The number of visitors has increased by 10% to 343,600 compared with the same fair from two years ago. It was also evident out in the city where it was crowded with queues of people but - just a wonderful atmosphere! The fair has also grown geographically. This year there were many good exhibitions and events, both centrally located and in the outskirts of Milan. So, it took a long time (several days) to get to see everything.
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A photographer presents the Milan Furniture Fair

The number of visitors has increased by 10% to 343,600 compared with the same fair from two years ago. It was also evident out in the city where it was crowded with queues of people but - just a wonderful atmosphere! The fair has also grown geographically. This year there were many good exhibitions and events, both centrally located and in the outskirts of Milan. So, it took a long time (several days) to get to see everything.

Out in Fiera Rho there were three parallel exhibitions: Salone di Mobile (Furniture Fair), Euroluce (lighting fair) and the Salone Ufficio (workplaces). The latter gets thinner each time, and the workplaces theme should, in my opinion, be changed to something else. If you want to see good workplace items I recommend instead the Orgatec fair in Cologne in 2018. The furniture and lighting fairs, however, were great!
In this newsletter, I share with you a sample of what I saw and experienced during this year’s design week. If you want to see all the details, click on the pictures and they will open in a larger size.


30 seconds later ...

At the final station in Fiera Rho everyone is in a hurry to get out, only to be stuck in the next crowd.

Paola Lenti moved to a new haven

For several years, Paola Lenti’s exhibition at the Santa Maria della Pace has been a must see on the list. This year, it has moved farther south to Via Orobia 15, a few steps from the Fondazione Prada (see below) and it was just as amazing! There are a couple of exhibitions in town that can create a special mood and a much-needed calm compared to the fair’s high pulse and tempo, and Paola Lenti is definitely one of the those. The indoor part was held in a large barn where the outdoor furniture was displayed in a jungle like environment.

Fondazione Prada lifts Lago Isarco.

Fondazione Prada is an institution dedicated to contemporary art and culture. On May 9 last year, a new permanent showroom opened at Lake Isarco 2 in southern Milan.

Architectural firm OMA, led by Rem Koolhaas, has converted the former distillery dating from 1910. Seven existing buildings were retained and three new ones were designed (Podium, Bio and Torre). The natural landmark, “Haunted House”, is an existing building dressed entirely in 24 carat gold leaf that sticks out above an unremarkable facade. After it became clear that Prada
wanted to establish themselves in the run-down and neglected area, prices of land shot through the roof. In a few years, we should see another new and vibrant neighborhood in Milan.

Bar Luce is also located in Fondazione Prada and it is well worth a visit. The designs by film director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel, etc.) recreated the atmosphere of a typical Milanese café, with the aesthetics of Italian popular culture during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

As usual

A large part of the fair’s exhibitors are immune to trends. A group of manufacturers with large booths require that customers have a lot of space and a small fortune, and that they like colors like beige, gray and brown. One example was Porada’s booth where the beautiful modular sofa, Kirk, was presented.


Moroso not only follows, but also creates trends. This year, their booth was quite trendy with a grid/mesh that separated the different rooms. Moroso is also known to think outside the box, but had, like many others, a toned down design this year. (Read: a bit more sellable)
The chair with the stool on the right is called Ottoman with design by Scholten & Baijings.

Armani Casa did it!

Last year Armani took over De Padova’s showroom on four floors at Corso Venezia 14, and painted the whole space white, and exhibited some mediocre furniture and declared that everything would be ready for this year. And so, it was, with a vengeance! The entire building, except the marble floor is covered with a wood panel with a perfect finish. The room alone is worth a detour. A number of trend-setting manufacturers at the fair also had wood paneling in their booths.

On two floors, they showed their collection of textiles and wallpaper that were new last year. The other two floors featured a completely new series of kitchen and bathroom designs. In the last few years, several strong luxury brands, particularly cars like Bentley and others, have extended their brand with furniture. The finish has always been impressive, but not the design that feels turgid and nouveau riche. Armani also has a luxury feel but with a minimalist elegance that does not look so remarkable from a distance. But, once you are there, up close, it just feels just right.

Poltrona Frau meets Ferrari

Poltrona Frau has long been a supplier to Ferrari and done interiors for their cars. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Ferrari factory in Maranello, the two companies have jointly created the work chair - Cockpit. It has a body of carbon fiber with the same shape as the vehicle seats, and a synchronic tilting mechanism where the controls are hidden inside the seat. Dressed in leather and, as always, with a Ferrari badge on the front.

It usually feels contrived when car brands become furniture, but in this case it is a really successful combination. If you can’t afford the car, you can still get a Ferrari feeling in front of your desk. 

Easy and difficult to see

On Driade’s new shelf, Venus by Fabio Novembre, it is easy to see the twist of the recessed sculpture in marble. But why show a traditional bar stool, also in the stone-dead finish copper!? The cool thing about Arik Levy’s bar stool for Desalto is revealed by the name Endless. Inside in the body, the tube is placed inside a long loop without joints. Really neat if you’re nerdy about structure.

Useful tips to collect your thoughts

At the end of each exhibition hall at Rho Fiera is a café, like a mini Autogrill. In front are a couple of tables with chairs and some standing tables. If you take the escalator close to the café, you will find a large area with a few benches. It is quiet and often there is room to quietly enjoy an espresso, or just collect your thoughts.

Beyond wall-to-wall carpeting

Allowing carpets to be continued up on the walls came into focus several years ago. Swedish Bolon’s cooperation with manufacturers who dress their furniture with their plastic mats premiered last year, but the idea still feels innovative and under development.

From left: Guest chair from Swedese and Nera from Zonat, both designed by Monica Förster. The tuffet is Bolon’s own design and to the right is Paper Planes by Doshi Levien for Moroso.


Shops are out, experiences are in

“The shop sector is stuck in the last century. Shops are out, experiences are in,” says Li Edelkoort, one of the world’s most respected predictors of future trends. With this as a manifest, Elle created the Decor Concept Store in Palazzo Brava, with several different environments and themes for greeting customers in a new way in the shop.

The picture above is from the room “Smaka” (Taste). You tell the staff what kind of coffee you like or get tips on the new varieties to try. The order is then placed on the conveyor belt with your name, like in some Japanese sushi restaurants.

Crafts for real

Many have done it before. Having someone from the factory demonstrate the art of upholstery at the fair. This year it was Carl Hansen & Son, who showed us how the classic Y-chair is manufactured. Next time you order a larger number of seats, think about how the work is done.

As long as you want

The Padova booth was trendy, with exactly the right amount of plants. This year there were just a few, regardless of size. The long table N.E.T. (Never Ending Table) by Søren Ulrik Petersen is from the Danish company MA/U Studio that since January of this year is part of the Boffi Group along with De Padova. Width of the table is 90 cm and length is according to what you have room for. The top is from Dinesen, specialist in solid wood floor with long lengths, so you won’t see any seams in the middle.

Galleria Rossana Orlandi

For those of you who have not met this personality, she is the lady with the glasses. After working for over 20 years in fashion and design for, among others, Giorgio Armani and Donna Karan, she opened the Galleria Rossana Orlandi in 2002 in a former tie factory in Magenta. The gallery is an eclectic mix of café, showroom, exhibitions, shop, office and an inner courtyard for events and meetings. Everything melts together in some strange way with no boundaries between the different areas. If you want to be as cool as this lady, you can buy her iconic glasses in the shop.

If you are planning a visit, be sure to give yourself plenty of time at the fair, so that you can see and enjoy everything. A small sample of gadgets are available below. (Glasses from Busoli Eyeware are made in real marble.)


Additional window with live view

One the exhibitors at the Rossana Orlandi gallery was Anotherview with a virtual window showing films on a 4K- screen. Showing Venice (like in the picture) when being in Milan, seems wrong, but had it shown a scene from the same city, it would have tricked me. With an app, you can sync the time so that the film follows the light during the day.

Moooi goes hospitality

A new trend I think we’ll see more of is when strong brands in the furniture and lighting industry lend their trademark to other products. In connection with their investment in hotels, Moooi launched their own line of beauty products made by Luxury Hotel Cosmetics. And this year they have started a collaboration with eye glass manufacturer Gentle Monster. However, it is not enough to be big, you must be cool, like Moooi. Therefore, it will probably take time before we see Kinnarps glasses.

The circular ring on the podium in the foreground is Moooi’s new rocking chair/armchair “O-rocker”. If you’re wondering, there are 161 fixtures in the giant chandelier behind.

What did Moooi’s booth look like? Click here and you can take a virtual walk and see for yourself.


Lighting that moves

With FLOS Smart Control you can remotely control, move, and direct the respective spot light in its rail. The technology is intended primarily for professional applications where the light sources are placed high, or in inaccessible areas. Perfect when you want to illuminate various scenarios or if you rearrange your furniture often.


It is important not to miss the opportunity, seems to be what the Italian taxi companies were thinking as they went on strike for four hours on Wednesday. Whereupon Uber, with their free pricing, charged “uber prices”. The picture above shows the long wait for a taxi at the central station.

The fair’s smallest news

For a few years, many classics like Miguel Milás Cesta for Santa & Cole have updated with LED lighting. Now it comes as Cestita Batería, with battery-powered LED that keeps the lamp lit for a day.

And then I saw an exciting prototype on the same theme, also in Santa & Cloes’ booth, with an LED diode attached directly to a 1.5 V battery.


One of four fixtures in a series collectively called Limbo, from Kenneth Cobonpue.
The frame for this decorative lighting is made of brass wire hand woven into a mesh.

Arrividerci Milan!

When you order a single espresso you expect the usual. But with Paola Lenti you get their own design, served by impeccably dressed waiters in white gloves. So neat, and so good!

Is there anything more to show? Yes, a lot, but there is not room for everything. I hope that this newsletter helped those of you who were there to remember, and that those of you who haven’t visited have gotten a sense of how Milan is when the city is as its best, crammed with design.

The next furniture fair in Milan will be held April 17-22, 2018 See you then!
Lasse Olsson Photo photographs interiors, architecture and lighting. My newsletter is published 6-8 times a year. It presents photographed projects and reports from furniture fairs in Milan and Stockholm.