“Inspiration gives no warnings,” said Gabriel Garcìa Marquez. And if the new seating and upholstered furniture collections presented at Milan Design Week 2021 are any indication, it can also come from anywhere: nature, history, art, food, and wine. So many of the designs on show were linked by the common thread of creating flexibility, warmth, and comfort in the home. O
When Calia Italia set out to create its new collection of upholstered furniture, it wanted to convey the ideas of cocoa and the melty creaminess of chocolate. Gourmandise was therefore a fitting name. It’s as if you’re welcoming your guests with a full tray of gianduiotti, chocolate creams, dragées, gianduia, and pralines. And these different chocolate styles were, in fact, the inspiration for the cushions, armrests, and backrests of the sofas, armchairs, and ottomans, which, although different sizes, are all linked by the same shapes. The collection was designed by Saverio Calia, creative director of Calia Italia, who based his design on the earlier Gianduiotto sofa. Gianduiotto Jr is its direct descendant, a deconstructed sofa whose base represents the chocolate tray. Available in various colors, the shape of its cushions is based on the famous chocolate of the same name from Turin. The Dragées version has higher back rests but the same shape. Cremino is a celebration of the popular chocolate cream, with its squared shapes representing layers of gianduia and hazelnut. It’s a deconstructed sofa par excellence, with its colors inspired by different flavors. The backrests are just as distinctive, which, together with the cushions, are based on the shapes of all the chocolates in the collection. The seats can be joined by ottomans to create a corner sofa or complemented with tables.
Besides the Gourmandise collection, Calia Italia also presented the MadameG armchair at Supersalone. An evolution of the Giuggiola and the iconic U Strozz ottoman – which, in the dialect spoken in Matera, means “rags” – this is an eco-sustainable ottoman made from production scraps. Artisan produced, no two ottomans are identical. This is therefore a unique piece, but also, and in particular, a very green product.
Poetry, humanism, the Mediterranean, Italy and its traditions, corals, sponges, and deep blue shells have all been brought together in Natuzzi’s new upholstered furniture range, the product of the creative minds of a series of designers. Like a flash of lightning, the collection pays homage to the beauty of nature, while also being respectful to the need for its conservation through the use of the latest technologies. Named Circle of Harmony, the collection features the work of eight designers: Lorenza Bozzoli, Massimo Iosa Ghini, Sabine Marcelis, Marco Piva, Elena Salmistraro, Patrick Norguet, Formafantasma, and Marcel Wanders.
Take a cubic meter of foam rubber. Compress it and shape it into layers. And, hey presto, an armchair. This isn’t a design from some magic book but a reality thanks to collaboration between Horm, award-winning designer Dror Benshetrit, and the Novacolor brand. It began when the firm’s co-owner and creative director, Renato Zamberlan, had the idea to give a shape to our influence on the environment and nature: “When Dror said he wanted to create a product that could express the enormous pressure that humans put on the environment and its resources, and knowing that awareness of this is the first step towards change, our collaboration with Novacolor and its research laboratories was a done deal.” The result is Mass Pressure, an exclusive armchair presented at Supersalone in its single-seat version. A true work of art, it’s destined to take its place in galleries and museums.
Innovative and enveloping, although with almost contorted corners, the shape of the seat is given by its painted tubular metal frame. The entire surface of the chair is also painted, after being treated by hand, with either an oxidized liquid copper or concrete effect. The result is an armchair that’s soft and comfortable, as light as a feather and as heavy as a rock – an oxymoron captured in the iconic nature of the piece.
A guardian of tradition that’s also an innovator in step with the needs of a new, increasingly international generation, Turri turned to the flair of major international designers for its new indoor furniture collection, in so doing, capturing the stylistic rebirth that’s unfolding today. Music, its notes, its scores, its rhythms, and its ability to arouse deep emotions and create a connection between our soul and the world around us all served as the inspiration for Giuseppe Viganò to design the Soul sofa and armchair, and the Harp small armchair. Soul is a modular seating system that includes corner seats, chaise lounges, and table modules with a wooden base and marble top. A distinctive element of the line is the fine leather inserts on the edges of the armrests. Also inspired by music, the Harp small armchair has a tapered, light solid walnut base that recalls the shape of the instrument. It supports a padded, concave seat that surrounds your body in a delicate embrace.
Designer Andrea Bonini has again collaborated with Turri to create the Blossom sofa and armchair, whose lines are reminiscent of the sepals and petals of a flower. Their design is defined by parabolic arches that delicately meet at the corners, which are embellished by metal details.
Art, fashion, nature, the colors of the sea, sand, a starry sky in the desert, a high cliff, and a city seen from the air – a crosspollination between all these elements served as the inspiration for Baxter’s new 2021 collection. The firm’s goal was to create home spaces that are casual but never banal, with bold combinations of colors and styles but without overlooking harmony and functionality. From an almost decomposed vision, these sofas, armchairs, rugs, and loungeroom accessories have been recomposed in the name of modularity and home hospitality.
There’s one series in particular from this new – and vast – collection that’s iconic and representative of the entire Baxter mood. Designed by Christophe Delcourt, these pieces are all about decomposing traditional furniture elements, with every element modular, from sofas to armchairs, ottomans, and tables. Clara, for example, is a sofa that’s made up of numerous elements that can be arranged in numerous ways, according to needs and tastes. A mixture of curving lines, concave and convex shapes, and full and empty spaces for creating all kinds of different settings, from linear to spacious, interlocking, corners, peninsulas with an ottoman close to hand, or even small islands for relaxation. Besides an artistic glass table, the Delcourt line includes Keren, a paired armchair and ottoman again characterized by their interlocking lines, clearly visible in the profile of the first, with a backrest that wraps its way around the seat. Its shape is reminiscent of a shoe with a low heel and a sophisticated design, as is the upper part of the ottoman, where the sections lock together – two symmetrical and one contrasting. Beki is an ottoman that might remind you of an irregularly shaped stone. The piece can be used with a companion or on its own.
Baxter has collaborated with other designers, too, including Draga&Aurel for the 1970s-style Barret armchair and the Brigitte sofa, now available in leather, with its increasingly vintage looks. Federico Peri worked with the firm on a range of home office accessories, while Paola Navone worked on the evolution of the Milano line, first released in 2020, whose sofa and armchair now feature increasingly enveloping lines in a design that’s as soft as the clouds.
Beauty lies in diversity which, in turn, stems from curiosity. This is in the DNA of Arrmet, which, again with the new collections it presented in Milan, set out to meld the best ideas from around the world into an increasingly Mediterranean and local style. Besides the Strike Relax bergère armchair and the Dam St XL stool, both designed inhouse by ArrmetLab, the Kiyumi Lounge armchair by Tomoya Tabuchi is a new addition to the catalog and was showcased in Tokyo by its designer October 18–21. A union of Japanese style and contemporary design, the piece has simple lines and is ideal for both the domestic and contract markets. The seat and backrest can be either upholstered or varnished multilayer ash, while the legs are painted thin steel tubes.
As for Dam St XL, this new swivel chair is the latest addition to the Dam upholstered seating range. The backrest, composed of three bands of different lengths and heights, takes centerstage in the design thanks to its enveloping shape. The base, on the other hand, has four solid ash legs and a black painted steel footrest.
Frigerio has put aesthetic and formal experimentation into the piece that has come to best reflect the latest needs of living spaces, houses, and apartments: the sofa. This is the philosophy behind its new collection for the living room, which it presented at both Supersalone and Fuorisalone. Its aim is to enhance the characteristics of the sofa so as to make it – along with the armchairs, tables, bookcases, and beds in the collection – as flexible and as adaptable to every situation as possible.
Committed since day one to achieving the maximum dynamism with its designs, the firm traditionally focuses on collaborating with a range of designers in the interests of keeping abreast of the demands of the everchanging present. Their names range from long-term collaborators, such as Umberto Asnago and Gianfranco Frigerio, to more recent arrivals, such as Federica Biasi and Christophe Pillet. And it was Pillet who designed the most iconic piece in the 2021 collection, the Horizon modular sofa, which is equally suitable for entertaining, relaxation, work, drinks, or a quick lunch. Its large, linear shape makes it the ideal place for escaping the chaos of the day. But the structure can be easily adjusted to create angled, asymmetrical, or even curved trapezoidal shapes and achieve different seating depths. One of its best features is the feeling of lightness created by the way the seat and base seem to float above the floor. The backrests and armrests, available in fabric or leather, are poised above.
Federica Biasi was the designer behind the Huli lounge chair, with its structure in solid walnut and ash. Other seats presented include the Arianna and Amanda armchairs, designed by Umberto Asnago, and, finally, the Arnè sofa and the Jonas ottoman, both the work of Gianfranco Frigerio. The simple lines, and prism and cube shapes of this last piece mean that it will be perfectly at home in any room of the house.
At the heart of the latest collection from this newly formed Veneto-based company are innovative, elegant designs that perfectly integrate into their surroundings. They reflect the changing tastes of its customer base, who are increasingly interested in the cosmopolitan look. This can be seen, for example, in the wide range of materials used in every piece, from solid wood to American walnut, polished oak, ceramics, metal, Rosso Carpzi marble, and, finally, transparent, bronze, and smoked glass. On top of this, all raw materials are chosen for their quality and sourced locally. The same applies to the seating products, particularly as far as the upholstery and padding are concerned. So, along with leather, eco-leather, and hide, the new collections feature raw linen, raw cotton, matelassé with a slight padded effect, and a soft chenille that underscores the brilliance of the fabrics used.
The chairs in the new collection include Joy, Miss Joy, and Joy Too, all designed by Spazioameno and all distinguished by their timeless designs and quality tailoring. The Mida, Miss Mida, and Mida Too series, designed by Gino Carollo, symbolizes quality. Inspired by the legendary Midas, who transformed everything he touched into gold, it includes three elegant armchairs for living areas and stools that would look perfectly at home in a chic piano bar. Finally, there are the Way and Miss My Way chairs, design by Bonaldo Lab itself. The central element here is the backrest, which wraps itself around the seat as if it were made up of several circular elements that intersect and embrace the body.
Three new sofas are included in the 2021 collection, all of them with wide seats and, in some cases, asymmetrical and unpredictable shapes. This is certainly the case with Peanut BX. Designed by Mauro Lipparini, who also designed Banaldo’s booth at Supersalone, this versatile sofa can be combined with existing modular elements from the catalog and can easily be adapted to equally irregularly shaped living areas. It can be seen as the union of two relaxation islands with different shapes, one trapezoidal, with greater seat depth thanks to a semi-corner piece, and one linear. An ottoman and customizable armrests are also available. Lovy, by designer Sergio Bicego, is another modular sofa, in this case with the seat forming a semi-oval, a shape that’s also reflected in the backrest with its curved top. Bicego also designed the Aliante, a modular corner sofa marked by its extremely light appearance. The frame has fabric upholstery, creating a continuity with the backrest, armrests, and cushions.
The Belt & Cross collection comprises a series of ottomans, designed by Alain Gilles, like brothers with different personalities.
An icon from the 1950s, which traveled as far as Manhattan, has been brought back to life in Flight D.154.5, designed for Supersalone by Molteni&C. But Ron Gilad swept away its 67 years with a thoroughly contemporary and hi-tech reinterpretation. In fact, he’s created a piece that symbolizes the yearning for world travel. Designed by Gio Ponti in 1954, the famous Round D.154 armchair, whose name derived from the spatial character of its rounded lines, has been re-released by the firm in collaboration with the Gio Ponti Archives in the form of a cutting-edge project that’s equipped with a QR code that leads to information on sitting. This reflects the spirit of innovation, creativity, and cultural exchange that’s behind the firm’s entire new collection, which it first presented at its flagship store in Milan. From Nicola Galliza to Marta Ferri, Molteni has collaborated with numerous designers. The standout for me, however, is the Marteen sofa designed by Vincent Van Duysen. Although modular and freely configurable, this furniture system never loses its balance between solids and voids, and between more and less solid volumes. With simple corner pieces, innovative islands, tables, and ottomans available, a wide range of configurations is possible.
“Marteen is more than the sum of its parts,” says Van Duysen. “It’s modularity clashing with dynamism. It’s a symbol of a new way of thinking and offering infinite sofa configurations, from the single seat of the ottomans to the more classic two-seater, and the 360° perspective of the island. It’s a system that forms the heart of the living area.” (Vincent Van Duysen)
Here’s an adventure. An experiment with design, production, and materials. A chameleon-like product that can completely change its appearance, depending on the wood finishes (walnut or ash) and how they’re combined with fabrics. T-Bone is a new, highly charismatic armchair from Ceccotti Collezioni that readily combines with the Àrbol side table. Designed by Jaime Hayon, both have a marked transformative character, imparted by color variations and different finishes for different moods. “T-Bone and Árbol are like new citizens of the world, suitable for any domestic or community setting. From every perspective, they’re new design icons,” says Franco Ceccotti. And the armchair really can harmonize with many settings, with its American walnut and ash timbers available in a range of finishes, including shellacked. Depending on which fabrics are chosen, T-Bone can radically change its appearance. As can its paired table. The table’s name, Árbol, conjures up the image of the tree, as does its structure, with its central element comprising three branches, each supporting a small tabletop.
“It’s a sculptural and iconic piece that simultaneously expresses lightness and dynamism through the way its details interact, which also makes it unique. Each of its elements is like a letter from some language; each of its parts, a word in a poem. Like a dancer who moves in space, T-Bone has its own intrinsic formal balance, a perceptible grace in the way its elements interact and make up the whole.” (Jaime Hayon).
The idea was to create an island that could be dropped into the middle of the sea of the home, with its increasingly fluid and dynamic spaces. The result was Vesper, the new sofa system from Giorgetti designed by Roberto Lazzeroni. The designer revisited an idea he’d had a few years ago that was then ahead of the times. Today, however, he believes the time is ripe. The more eclectic nature of today’s living spaces is reproduced visually in the curving lines of the seat and its accompanying elements, from the backrest to the cushions, simultaneously accentuating the design’s elegance and sophistication. The structure is quite simple, comprising a leather or fabric platform that sits on the floor and supports the seat cushions and the padded backrests, also available in leather or fabric. Including a modular ottoman and a combined right-left element with a different backrest, the system is easy to move according to your tastes and needs. The colors can be customized, with a monochrome version in fabric or leather and a two-tone version that combines leather and fabric available.
The enveloping backrest of the chaise lounge and corner element, as well as the lines of the system itself, are like a double embrace.
Francesco Meda and David Lopez Quincoces’s passion for history and traditional narratives could be defined as a kind of design archive. The two, who are the creative directors of Acerbis, which merged with the Mdf Italia group, have designed the new Remasters collection, the result of a revival of designs from the past that still appear strikingly fresh today. “These are pieces that narrate a story of real intrinsic value for anyone who understands the narrative quality of design,” explain the two. “This is why we set out to update them to reflect the way the home is lived in today, with new proportions, materials, and colors.” Life is a modular sofa designed by Roberto Monsani that reflects traditional modular designs, underscored by the addition of modular ottomans, a range of seating modules, and an innovative elongated plexiglass structure in dark stained walnut and black ash.
Mdf also presented the natural evolution of the Neil chair, designed by Jean Marie Massaud in 2018. Previously updated during the two years after its release, it’s now evolved into the Neil Leather. The heart of the new design is its leather details, but the designer has also prioritized its proportions and comfort. The black chromed steel supporting structure is light and simple, while the extra-thick full-grain leather upholstery creates an inviting piece of furniture. Sartorial details, such as the thick stitching and dyed edges, enhance the exclusive quality of the leather and its workmanship. The design brings modernity, classicism, and innovation together in one piece.
(Re)new together. It’s time to start again, together, and do it using comfortable furniture – seating in particular – as the heart of entertaining your guests. Arper knows this well, with the collections it unveiled at Supersalone offering a new vision of how we can entertain in our homes. Besides the Kinesit Met, Mixu, Adell, and Aston Club, the firm presented its first lounge chair made of solid wood, the Kata. Resembling a traditional piece made of wood and woven straw, the chair has been reinterpreted using modern, sustainable processes. The design is warm and has a graphic purity created by a juxtaposition of its material presence and minimalist lines. The fabric, the product of a hi-tech process, perfectly fits the frame and is manufactured to reduce waste materials to a minimum. It’s available as a 3D knit with a graphic pattern and internal micro-padding in the natural tones of linen, wheat, and charcoal, and as a 3D knit with a striped pattern, in shades of water, wheat, and charcoal. From the outset, circular sustainability has been a key part of the collection, as shown by the choice of a 3D knit that contributes to the sustainability of the product at different levels.
Photos are courtesy of Calia Italia, Natuzzi, Horm, Bonaldo, Baxter, Arrmet, Frigerio, Molteni, Turri, Ceccotti Collezioni, Giorgetti, Mdf, Arper