The meteoric rise of home working, and the pressures on interior space, demand multi-functional, flexible furniture—and Salone is full of it. A combined kitchen, work desk and dining table piece from Linea Quattro shows the possibilities of hybrid designs. Campeggi—a company known for its convertible designs, including the coolest sofa beds you’ve ever seen—shows an orange bench that transforms into a minimal desk (designed by Sakura Adachi) and a bed that turns into two high-backed chairs (by Matali Crasset.)
Embracing flexibility also means modularity, which is also widespread at the show. In the special SaloneSatellite exhibition—dedicated to emerging designers under 35, and this year under the theme “Designing for our future selves” —Daniel Niklovski presents his delightfully simple yet effective modular furniture range, comprising rounded vertical segments that can adjoin to create chairs or sofas of various lengths. Also at SaloneSatellite, Ntaiana Charalampous’ modular kitchen design for Dedàleo takes an all-in-one, flexible kit-of-parts approach to suit different needs and spaces. Finally, mobile furniture is also on the rise— from tables on wheels (Alpes Inox) to portable, rechargeable battery-powered lamps (Foster and Partners for Artemide.)
Waste-full, not wasteful
Although design with waste is not new, this year Salone champions it with even greater gusto. There’s a sense we’re inching closer to a future in which circular-economy interiors are more commonplace, reflecting Salone president Maria Porro’s statement: “We have a duty to move even faster in the direction of design, production, and distribution solutions that are as sustainable as possible.” Italian architect Mario Cucinella has put together a major installation, Design with Nature, which takes visitors through sustainable material innovations already in production while calling for a “revolution” in which design no longer depends on oil and other extractivism. Cucinella showcases textiles and interior surfaces made from waste plastic, recycled paper, food scraps, and upcycled fabrics, as well as byproducts from industrial processes.
It’s an approach seen elsewhere at the show, with one highlight being Newblue, a project by Jaipur-based young designer Disharee Mathur. Harnessing recycled sanitary ware, Mathur has partnered with local researchers and artisans to create a new ceramic material, crafted into sculptural white interior pieces. Meanwhile, Nani Marquina’s Re-Rug project—brought to life with an installation of multicolored mounds of discarded wool—creates new rugs from suppliers’ leftovers.
There’s no shortage of somber tones and minimalist designs on display at Salone—the mid-century Scandi aesthetic certainly endures—but more notable is the embrace of fun. Why shouldn’t our refrigerator, or our desk, bring us joy? The intensely patterned, colorful kitchen appliances from the Smeg x Dolce & Gabbana collaboration are on show, celebrating Sicilian style (it gives a taste of what’s to come from the fashion brand’s new homeware arm, bringing maximalism in all its glory to living spaces.)
Elsewhere, there are plenty of playful deployments of color and form, including Patricia Urquiola’s cartoon cloud-like rugs for cc-tapis, Tekla Evelina Severin’s faux-apartment installation for Sancal (think a fully orange dining room, and electric blue chairs on oversized terrazzo), and India Mahdavi’s new block-color Loop furniture range for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna. With a world in perpetual crisis, we need to create our own pockets of joy—and home interiors are a good place to start.