Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Milan Furniture Show is fantastico!

On my bucket list is an adventurous trip to Italy in time for Milan's Furniture Show.

Just as car buffs anxious to see the imagination of automotive designers unleashed gravitate to Detroit's North American International Auto Show, those with a passion for home furnishings and accessories travel to Milan, Italy, for what has to be one of the biggest furniture shows of the year.

This year's event, which ran April 12-17, marked the 50th anniversary of the six-day furniture fair that spills out from the spacious 5.7 million-square-foot convention center into the city's galleries, boutiques, university campuses and just about any other open space available.

It started out as a showcase for Italy's furniture makers, but now attracts designers from all over the world. 

The folks at DuPont Corian and Disney teamed up to commission a high-tech and futuristic hideout inspired by the imaginative world that appears in the film, "Tron Legacy." 

"The furnishings -- in keeping with the safe house inhabited by Jeff Bridges' video game developer in the 2010 film -- are gleaming white. For consistency, the conceptualized safe house includes the sleek, elongated wall-unit bookshelf seen in the movie, but the bedroom, entertainment area, outdoor patio, bath and kitchen are all new," according to a story by the Associated Press. 

The show's out-of-this-world kitchen featured an undulating island with a six-burner stove capped by an arching hood that looks more like a work of art than a kitchen appliance. Illuminating the gleaming white cabinetry and countertops were rectangles of glowing blue light.

It was all concepts, but Italian designer Ergian Alberg, who designed the kitchen with partner Laura Aquili, said the kitchen could easily be realized, provided one could shell out around $100,000 euros or $142,100 Yankee bucks.

Still, a more affordable version of the concepts could, in the near future, show up at one of your favorite furniture stores.

Speaking of the future, one of the designs created by an art student, which I can see being replicated by manufacturers in North America, is a birdhouse complex. The piece on display at the show featured a wall of various size square and rectangular birdhouses connected to each other. It's designed to house up to 33 species and, who knows, if our feathered friends can live in the same forest, why not a community of birdhouses?

The six-day event in Milan, which ended Sunday, was full of experiment and whimsy. Shown below are a few of the designs that captured the attention of visitors.

AP Photos by Luca Bruno

People tree
There were signs on some of the displays that said look but don't touch. This outdoor seating creation called "Driade" by French architect and designer Philippe Starck and Spanish designer Eugeni Quitllet said relax and imagine the possibilities.

Now that's a hot seat
Designers from all over the world showed off their creations at Milan's Furniture Fair. Check out these funky chairs with lamps dubbed, "Alice" by Italian designer Icopo Foggini. They’re hot to look at but cool to sit on. A transparent chair by Italian furniture giant Kartell was fitted with an MP3player and gnome side tables.

Among the futuristic pieces inspired by the movie "Tron: Legacy" was this gleaming white Jacuzzi tub display by Italian designer Marco Piva and this bed by the Capo D'Opera company.


Imagination speaks
Whimsical and notional describe the work of German designer Ingo Maurer, above, whose collection of fanciful pieces included this amazing lamp. It's as if time is standing still.

Paper ingenuity
The "Air Vase" by Japanese Torafu Architects consists of a paper bowl with the ability to change its shape freely by molding it: the thin and lightweight paper gains tension and strength when pulled out. It was created exclusively as a limited edition piece for a museum of contemporary art in Japan.

No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation – Fran Lebowitz