Diaries of the Milan Furniture Fair 2013

Here Peter Joehnk & Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk of JOI-Design and Fabienne O’Neill from Sleep talk about their highlights from the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair.

Diary No.1 Written by Peter Joehnk & Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk of JOI-Design

We attend the Milan Furniture Fair each year to be inspired by the latest ideas in furniture and lighting design. As in previous years, we saw an eclectic mix of ideas including several design classics, like the Bestlite Collection by Robert Dudley Best, now re- interpreted by lighting manufacturers Gubi; a handful of curiosities – and many great new ideas to make a designer’s heart leap with delight!


ClassiCon                                                        Vitra                                                Gispen

Karim Rashid also took to the stage alongside some feature light bulbs, although this was probably more down to coincidence than clever positioning!


Vibia presented a great lamp with a very clean, graphic structure incorporating the traditional light bulb theme. The structures are formed by thin rods with LED terminals for illumination at each end, continuing the visual fluidity of the lines.


“Wireflow” by Arik Levy for VIBIA

Another strong theme was ceramic combined with wood, and we saw examples of this in lighting and furniture.  It’s a wonderful combination of two very different materials which we think has great potential, as in this atmospheric lighting arrangement by Marset and tables by Sancal:


Copper was also very prevalent at Milan this year.  We saw this in lamps, tables, decorative objects and even bathroom fittings – but we can’t imagine how it will look with daily use.  Sadly, good design ideas are not always functional in real life!  However, here are some examples of copper objects that are both beautiful and functional by Tom Dixon:


As always, there were some impressive light installations. This suspension drop of blown glass took centre stage.  It has lights in the top and bottom which illuminate the installation in various colours – and was a beautiful distraction for both young and old guests at the Salone.

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And finally, here are some examples of “takeaway” furniture which caught our eye at the Fair, small tables and poufs in modern interpretations as well as in classic and regionally influenced designs:

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Tables by MoooiEstelOffecct

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An intriguing pouf by Moroso: could you imagine sitting on it?

(All images courtesy of JOI-Design)

Diary No. 2 Written by Fabienne O’Neill, Sleep

I went to Milan with the intention to discover the new and edgiest designers gracing the industry with perfectly crafted products and cutting edge design. I came away with many ‘golden nuggets’.

For the first day and a half in Milan I spent my time at the Salone del Mobile exhibition. What a colossal space – there is no chance one person is ever going to walk all 20 halls. I concentrated on those that I was advised were most suited to my needs. What magnificent creations. Hundreds of stands as large as a buildings and the imagination behind some of the designs & products was awe-inspiring. A few of my favourites included;

Vitra’s miniature train with miniscule Vitra furniture


Cassina’s new edition of the Tre Pezzi Lounge chair (it’s SO soft!!)


Moroso’s Chinese tamgram puzzle inspired stand & the pastel colours of their Binkini Landscape by Werner Aisslinger


Kartell’s Twist Lamp


Lasvit’s webbed stand design


Lots of ideas left the Fair with me that day!

On the Tuesday evening my colleague and I made our way to the Kartell/Laufen party for the launch of their new line – ‘Kartell by Laufen’. On arrival to Kartell’s flagship store in the centre of Milan I was taken aback by the sheer number of people piling into the show room…evidence below!


Barely able to squeeze through the dense crowd I managed a few glasses of champagne and a quick wiz around to see the new line. Years of research and development have enabled Laufen to produce saphirkeramik – a revolutionary material seen first here. The compound is made up of ceramic and plastic meaning it weighs half of what it would have done previously if created from traditional materials. Plus its extraordinary durability means it withstands the impact of chemical agents (such as bleach/detergents) and scratches. I look forward to our long standing supporter, Laufen, bringing the new collection to Sleep 2013.


Set in a disused warehouse The Magazzini was an exciting collaboration between Heineken and emerging designers showcased by Designersblock. Situated within Milan’s Tortona this really engulfed edgy urban design and was an absolute must see at this year’s Milan Design Week.


Wednesday I limited my time in the Fair spending my morning in Euroluce and then heading into town to see what design treats were on offer. My first visit was to MOST. The challenge to designers here was the idea of ‘Disrupting Design’ be it through innovation, technology or ingenuity. With its prime instigator being Tom Dixon, you knew you were in for a treat. Incredibly crafted products could be seen throughout, with the use of intriguing materials ranging from Jake Phipps’s coconut fibre pendant lights through to Frederic Morans composite materials reinforced with linen fibres.


Not only were there beautifully crafted products but there was also a wonderfully executed hotel mock-up (both in terms of design and build). The brainchild of Colin Graham – Bloc by Boxbuild is a perfect fusion of function meets luxury design and finishes. With contributions from the likes of Roca with their Armani brass ware & Bolon’s intricately woven Missoni-designed carpets, the rooms ooze elegance even though they’re incredibly compact.


The collaboration between Fab, Quinze & Milan and The Andy Warhol Foundation for visual Arts proved a roaring success. This only increases my excitement about this year’s Sleep Hotel – WATCH THIS SPACE!


With so much more to see I spent the rest of my time running around like a blue arsed fly popping from show to show, district to district, meeting to meeting. I could go on however I think this is a nice little round up for my highlights from Milan. All in all a very invigorating, worthwhile and inspiring trip!