Milan Design Week 2016 Blog Series – Part One

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to visit Europe for 19 days on a journey that included Design Week in Milan, three days hosted by Blum in Austria and three days hosted by Cosentino in Spain. This was book-ended by two days in Zurich at the beginning and Barcelona at the end.

Design Week is a huge part of Milan’s annual event calendar. The main events take place at Rho Fiera, the enormous exhibition centre on the outskirts of Milan. Founded in 1961, Salone del Mobile is the furniture fair held annually in Milan and is the largest trade fair of its kind in the world. The exhibition showcases the latest in furniture and design from countries around the world.

Salone del mobile milano

Created in 1974, the International Kitchen Furniture Exhibition runs concurrently with the International Bathroom Exhibition in the broader context of the Salone del Mobile Milano during even years. Since 1974, EuroCucina has showcased the latest in the realm of high quality kitchens.

I also visited the design areas of Milan, such as Brera, where there were a number of satellite design exhibitions and Via Savona where we saw an exhibition by Moooi. Moooi is available in New Zealand through ECC Furniture.

The centre of this year’s Moooi presentation was the new collection: 22 new pieces presented in beautiful compositions on pedestals and carefully placed inside a mysteriously dark and seductive ballroom. Radiating from this nucleus, numerous side passages lead to 14 luxuriously captivating, and elegantly styled home settings, which embody the rebellious spirit of today’s creative community. This surreal and imaginary world is integrated with 21 new Signature Carpets and 22 new broadloom wall-to-wall creations. Here are a few photo highlights:

Source – photo by Nicola Manning

Source – photo by Nicola Manning

Source – photo by Nicola Manning

Source – photo by Nicola Manning

Another highlight in Milan was our visit to the Henge Furniture atelier in via Della Spiga. Henge has created a stunning apartment showcasing the gorgeous Henge furniture, lighting and accessories. Henge furniture is handcrafted using the most stunning timbers, metals, leathers, stone and fabrics. Henge furniture is stocked in New Zealand by David Shaw Furniture.

Source – photo by Nicola Manning

Another Milan highlight was a cocktail party we were invited to held in a historic building by Caesarstone and Tom Dixon, showcasing the collaboration between the two companies called The Restaurant, a series of extraordinary sculptural kitchens http://www.tomdixon.net/uk/the-restaurant.htm

Source – photo by Nicola Manning

Source – www.tomdixon.com

Source – photo by Nicola Manning

Blum, a world leading manufacturer of cabinetry hinges, drawer runners and lift systems, hosted us on a tour of its head office and factories in Western Austria. Blum has a wonderful family culture for such a large successful company and prides itself on quality, innovation and leading edge technology. It was an amazing experience to see the assembly lines and distribution centres. The sheer scale of the Blum operation is hard to comprehend.

Blum was an incredibly generous host and treated us to lunch at Lake Constance, which borders Austria, Germany and Switzerland and dinner in a castle, also over looking Lake Constance. We saw a house that was over 400 years old with 1.8 metre high ceilings, very cosy!! Observations include prevalent use of timber from the surrounding forests, including small, shaped timber shingles used as cladding, small windows with shutters, no indoor-outdoor flow and in the higher mountain areas there were no gardens around the houses, a function of the harsh winter weather conditions. Window box gardens were common to add colour in the spring and summer.

Cosentino, the world’s largest manufacturer of quartz-based solid surfaces (Silestone and Dekton) hosted the final part of our trip, in the South of Spain. We visited a quarry to see marble being mined and also the Cosentino head office showroom and factories to see how Silestone and Dekton are manufactured and view the latest colours and designs.