Designer Furniture: Inspired Ideas from Salone del Mobile Milan

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Elissa Morgante, AIA
Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson

Jun 28, 2019 - 5 min read

Designer Furniture:  Inspired Ideas from Salone del Mobile Milan

Furniture design is constantly evolving, a fact made abundantly clear at this year’s Salone del Mobile Milan in Milan, Italy. An annual showcase of new furniture designs from around the world, Fred and I were invited to the show as guests of the Italian Trade Commission. It was an amazing, inspiring trip. Here are photos of some of the designer furniture pieces we fell in love with – taken from my cell phone, so please go easy on me! Still, you’ll be able to see what makes these furniture pieces so very special.

Clear themes emerged at the designer furniture show, including texture, material mixing, and versatility. These chairs are a great example. They feature canvas straps wrapped around bentwood frames, with a very, very thin cushion – and, the seat is curved! You can see a real tension here with the mix of textures and materials – these chairs go way beyond your typical marriage of wood and upholstered cushion. They’re beautifully appointed, artisan quality chairs – and perhaps most amazing of all, they stack! That’s pretty remarkable.

These chairs are made of paper-thin, hyper-strong plastic with very beautiful wood legs. Their slats create texture plus shadows, which you can see on the floor – an added bonus! This is pretty sophisticated furniture, made of very commonplace materials. What an interesting mix.

The duality of this coffee table is especially interesting. Half white, half black, it’s made of painted, textured resin. It sits on a rug with a typically linear shape that suddenly veers into a curve; one edge is fringed, the rest are not. There’s a lot happening here, but the colors are subtle and everything just works.

Louis Vuitton did a number of concept pieces that blew us away. The first is this colorful resin chair that goes far beyond the iconic egg chair you’ve likely seen before. It’s almost like a vine that both encloses and exposes you, thanks to its laser-cut, coddling shape.

Another of Louis Vuitton’s fantastical furniture designs is this organically-shaped yellow chair. Is it a flower? An artichoke? We’re not sure – but we do know it’s entirely upholstered, with leaves that seem to layer on top of one another and loose cushions that further plump the whole thing. The shape and color are both incredibly striking.

This design, also by Louis Vuitton, is like a sculpture. It’s not quite a chair; not quite a chaise. A white resin play on Victorian tete-a-tete seating, it’s upholstered in a soft, nubby chenille fabric. It would make a beautiful statement piece in a room, or even an outdoor landscape.

Trust me when I tell you this chair was so gorgeous, so sumptuous, it almost defies description. Its bentwood frame is covered in diamond-quilted glove leather. It’s a stunning example of craftsmanship – which shouldn’t come as a surprise given that it’s another of Louis Vuitton’s creations.

This console demonstrates the type of innovation on display in so much of the furniture we saw. Entirely clad in real stone cut so thinly it acted as a veneer, it features pattern-matched veining. See the way the veins on the top seem to fold over the edge and carry over to the door fronts? It was truly remarkable. Just as impressive, the doors operated as easily as you’d expect console doors to – a real feat of engineering. Brass hardware and metal legs complete the piece.

Particularly interesting in terms of the juxtaposition between its thin, rigid frame and its pillowy, marshmallow-like suede cushion, we loved the textural aspect of this sofa. Plus, it’s just plain fun! It manages to be very elegant, yet very inviting. That can be tough to achieve.

The show’s massive size was enthralling – and a bit exhausting. What we saw made our heads spin – and our creative juices flow. Check out our website to see some of that creativity on display!

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson