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The furniture world was Italy's guest at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, the world's most important trade fair of the international furniture industry. From 12 to 17 April 2016 the show again made this northern Italian metropolis a furniture design hotspot. The trendsetting furniture, materials and furnishing event was held for the 55th time – this year together with EuroCucina, the kitchen furniture expo. Over 2,400 companies and brands, including just under a third from abroad, displayed their new products on a generous 270,000 square metres of space. This was a "must" for more than 372,000 visitors from all over the world – a pleasing increase of 4 per cent compared to the year before last. We had a look round the Salone del Mobile and came back with plenty of inspiration.
Materiality, Naturalness, Neutrality
Three key statements in furniture design – the quintessence of this year's Salone del Mobile.
A newcomer was the "industrial look", big on teamwork with natural-looking woods. Industrial basics such as square tube, wired glass, chequered sheet metal or wire mesh embody pure materiality as much as stone. No problem for the naturalness trend, which calmly holds its own: materials, all kinds of natural fibres and wood, for example opulently surrounded by genuine plant sceneries. The quiet language of neutrality is spoken by the still-fashionable uni colours grey, anthracite and black. The accented colours are somewhat louder, such as glaring yellow or coral red. Equally popular are blue and green, which correspond exactly with the Interprint trend colours "Mare" and "Olive". Conspicuous by its rarity was plain white. Colours and surfaces routinely like to exercise restraint, preferring a matt finish.
Elegance Creates Clarity
Things are getting more stylish: surfaces, woods or décors – rustic hints coupled with new elegance and clarity. Smoky glass, coloured glass and mirror surfaces play with the charm of reflections. Brass and other metals prefer to show themselves from their warm sides. The woods are in classical-natural tones, with oak and walnut as permanent front-runners, followed by ash and soft woods. The décors also like it elegant, such as the Interprint oak décor "Eureka" with its concise floral knotholes.
Beauty in Simplicity
The entire furniture style says, "Less rather than more". Clear architectural lines, slim, minimalist design, thin, elegant frame doors. Simplicity makes the furniture beautiful, hence the real eye-catchers at this fair. Novelties definitely included black smoky glass and wire glass in furniture fronts. One highlight was the innovative "Credenza Collection", a brilliantly successful symbiosis of furniture and graphic design.
Between Optimism and Euphoria
Things are looking up. After seven years of restraint, the Italian furniture industry is again looking towards the future with optimism. In 2015, it recorded a 3.4 per cent increase in domestic sales; abroad, sales even increased by over 6 per cent. The mood at the Salone del Mobile was correspondingly positive, even somewhat euphoric. This gives the industry every reason for optimism, even at global level, as Milan is the world's leading trade fair for furniture design.
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