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The tenuous threshold

The tenuous threshold
By Cristina Morozzi -

The threshold has shifted – and not just metaphorically. The border between outside and in is becoming more and more tenuous. Nature comes indoors and indoors projects outwards. Drawing rooms are beginning to look like winter gardens full of plants whose daylight filters through glass skyscraper walls, crystal diaphragms betwixt out and in. Patios and terraces are furnished like drawing rooms with padded upholstery in the new textiles that withstand rain and UV rays. Paola Lenti, for example, has come up with two exclusive products to cover her chairs, “Rope” and “Aquatech”. The former is woven by hand or machine in modified polyolefinic yarn. The latter derives from a polyamidic thread that is processed to take on the appearance and consistency of natural straw.
There is growing hybridisation of categories. Garden furniture adorns kitchens and living rooms making all the gadgets and hardware look a touch weather-beaten; and out go the armchairs onto the terrace dressed in a floral pattern.
Greenery is snaking up façades (Musée des Arts premiers, quai Branly), clothing the walls of drawing rooms (Patrick Blanc’s vegetable walls). Woods have undergone an upwards shift (Boeri partners’ design for the Milan Isola district), trees poke from the top of buildings (Gaetano Pesce). Banished from the forests, flattened to make road networks or cornfields destined for biofuel, the plants are returning to town. They climb the walls and trail indoors: not potted, but as a new wall cladding - a living skin to dress and tend like the frailest epidermis that grows and ages akin to a body’s. Hence the mushrooming proposals for outdoor furniture which is no longer just destined for out of doors.
A growing number of firms are going in for this kind of multi-use product. The whole sector is burgeoning. Some are converting to outdoor furniture, away from their original calling, like Alias who presented three collections at the Milan Furniture Salon 2007, signed by...

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