Milan's esteemed Salone del Mobile – or Milan Design Week as is it otherwise known – returned with plenty of gusto for its 58th edition this year. More than 300,000 furniture designers, architects, journalists and industry experts descend on the northern Italian city to discover new home, furniture and architecture trends set by the industry's powerhouses including B & B Italia, Kartell and Cassina.
Standout design pieces fell into some mighty categories from sustainable practice to retro modernism and plenty of earthy tones for a nod to what the future looks like. This is an era of outdoor living pieces that look more like an invitation to dine indoors, where home decorating serves a cross functional purpose of abode meets career plotting while geometric shapes and prints inform the design ethos for 2020 and beyond.
The Artichoke Lamp
To celebrate the 125th birthday of Poul Henningsen's artichoke lamp in 1958, Louis Poulsen brings the iconic lamp back with a copper rose version for a limited time. It comes with Henningsen's signature engraving on the third row of blades, and creates a musky ambience for a nod to a bygone era. Made up of 72 leaves over six layers, this timeless design is proof what is old can be new again.
Craft lovers need only to look to Missoni's Creative Director Angela Missoni for proof that home is where vibrant colour, Aztec influences and Impressionist painting is as relevant as ever for 2020.
Here, couches get a knitted makeover in earthy stripes. There's jacquard print chairs and pillows, striped curtains for a fringe blowout and ideogramma typography thrown in the cross-cultural mix too.
Bar by Pietro Russo
The Italian Baxter brand continues to lead in design elegance with a satin brass bar – a timely reminder to kick back and drink to that.
"The mini bar is an example of Baxter's understated power," says Melbourne and Sydney-based architect Rob Mills.
"The way it was placed in a lounge room setting at Salone was discreet and you found it on your travels within the space. They're creative, unique and recreate a retro elegance without getting stuck there."
Italian powerhouse Minotti, under the guidance of creative director Rodolfo Dordoni, emerged from Salone with a new vision for the year to tie in with its 70th anniversary – collaborating with artists including Japan's Nendo [who was recently part of the Escher exhibition at the NGV].
His Tape Cord outdoor furniture adds a geometric smile to Italian ideology where chaise lounges and two-seaters get a Zen makeover in a Milanese paradise.
Garden of Eden
Speaking of gardens, the emphasis on plant life was real at Salone with every furniture designer in the halls using plant form to parade their wares. It's a reminder that creating a Garden of Eden within your four walls is as relevant as ever in an overworked world where humans rarely switch off.
"All the top companies showing at Salone had a garden as a centrepiece," says Kendra Pinkus, interior designer at Rob Mills Architects. Whether it was orange trees looming over couches, palm streets leaning over bedheads or cactus at Baxter for a Palm Springs comes to Italia vibe, it's all about thinking about our environment and getting back to it on occasion.
Finnish furniture brand Nikari channeled a calm Nordic energy with a cool collection of 12 Designs for Nature named after each month in the calendar year. The 100 per cent sustainable furniture is where soft curves inform its April tables that come with what appear paper-thin yet sturdy tabletops. The company uses ash, oak and birch wood to recreate the ultimate tree hug.
Paola Lenti Rugs
Nobody quite does colour like Paola Lenti who turns to embroidery and weaving using raw materials for her earth mission to land on your feet. The furniture designer who makes ottomans, couches and dining chairs using rope, turns to ancient and modern inspiration for these handicraft floor pieces – where colour and high tech yarns are designed to add depth to your standing space.
Studio Pepe by Baxter table
The design duo behind Studio Pepe create sculptural tables at Baxter this year – combining concrete with neon cues for a new voice in modernism within the home. The sculpture inspired round tables are informed by a study of shape and subtraction where mathematics and art find a totemic balance in their final vision of excellence. This is where raw and elegant works wonders.
Gucci Décor welcomes its first global pop-up store in Milan [which takes over the former Balenciaga building in Via San Spirito where home furnishings and accessories fill this Mad Hatter like Palazzo in the heart of luxury-centric Milan.
There's the controversial Lighten Up ashtrays for all things politically incorrect and kitsch while animal print, leopard, flannelette, silk and mohair blankets add to the lush offerings too. Gucci emblazoned vases (with handmade handles that take two days to perfect), a lounge with a price tag of approx $51,350 and incense burners to hide the sins of those '70s smoke rings.
The writer travelled to Milan as a guest of Rob Mills Architects.