The 2003 edition of the Milan Furniture Fair could hardly have opened at a gloomier time (Iraq War, Sars epidemic, economic downturn). Even so, a few days before it ended, the organisers, Cosmit were calling it “The Turnaround Fair”, encouraged by the number of trade visitors, the interest of the Media and the originality of the design trends on display.
What was immediately striking was the invasion of Colour that swept through the stands and the products on display. Examples included the rainbow tinted stand created by Ferruccio Lariani for Kartell; the Moroso showroom with its playful blend of the traditional and the strip-cartoonish in colour scheme and design; the Edra stand, as colourful as ever, or even more so.
Cappellini focused on the experimental use of materials, as did B&B Italia, which introduced the new technology of thermoformed leather for its “Mart” seating series. Weightlessness was the key to the “Frametable” collection designed by Alberto Meda for Alias, while Molteni took this opportunity to show the public further developments in the design strategy introduced by its “Frammenti di Casa” exhibition (see A&D no. 138).
So, not just new furniture, but new ways of using the home. That latter theme was investigated, with considerable originality, by a whole new batch of young designers, such as the Permafrost Group, Codice 21, Jerzey Seymour and Lorenzo Damiani.
So there was plenty of excitement and a real desire to do things differently on display, but also evidence of discontent among the young designers on the Fringe Show stands. And for all the usual reasons: firms are not investing; too much reliance on famous names and on foreign designers.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 140