Salone del Mobile 2024: Big Tents, Pistachio Palettes, and Other Late-Breaking Milan Discoveries

I arrived on Sunday around noon and checked into my fab ’70s-inspired room at the new Max Brown Missori, just a skip away from one of my favorite buildings, the Torre Velasca by BBPR. First on the agenda was the design mecca Nilufar Depot, where Nina Yashar always has a colorful—and vast—mix of top-notch vintage and cutting-edge contemporary wares. I was excited to see new work from Studioutte, a young Milanese practice I have my eye on, and I stopped for a quick drool over a bamboo bed by Gabriella Crespi. My agenda has been packed but personal highlights have included Capsule, where I loved an exhibition of extruded aluminum designs made with Norwegian brand Hydro (Max Lamb deems it his latest material muse), and Gucci, where Spanish architect Guillermo Santomà created a lime green labyrinth to display iconic designs, selected by Sabato De Sarno and Michela Pelizzari, in the brand’s signature oxblood hue. A small Carlo Scarpa vase was to die for.

Three days and 30-some appointments in, it’s always a bit of a challenge to digest the iPhone reel, but one main takeaway has been: lots of silver metals (polished aluminum, stainless steel) which feels like a pendulum swing towards more industrial design. Another recurring theme? Tents—from the more fanciful variety, at Gohar World’s Alcova display and Arjumandsworld in 5vie, to Sam Chermayeff’s experimental “Tent Typologies” installation, a collaboration with Maharam, at Dropcity. Can’t wait to catch up with our global AD team at Marriott’s Excelsior Hotel Gallia for breakfast tomorrow morning to compare notes. And tonight, a chic gathering at Artemest’s L’Appartamento—the perfect end to a stylish day.

Madeline O’Malley, Market Director

Magnetic Midnight Maison at Alcova

Madeline O’Malley

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A party in full swing at the Ralph Lauren palazzo

Madeline O’Malley

The first few days in Milan are always powered by a combination of adrenaline and espresso. Upon arrival, I quickly checked into my hotel, laced up my trusty Italian sandals, and ventured to Villa Borsani for Alcova. I was delighted to see Lucia Echavarria of Magnetic Midnight Maison holding court on the ground floor with her cheerfully colorful woven furniture, created using traditional Colombian techniques. My next stop was the new Cabana shop on Via Borgospesso where I got to see all of my favorite things in one place: hand-painted Murano glass, fanciful plates, and splashy textiles. A few more espressos later and I found myself at Roche Bobois, where I met Jiang Qiong’er, who designed this season’s collection and confirmed my suspicion that pistachio is having a real moment. And if the sun could be “trending,” it was. From the 80-degree weather to La Double J’s Solar tabletop collection, I felt the cloudy weight of the last few weeks of New York City winter melt away. And it wouldn’t be Milan without a glitzy evening soiree—so I donned my jazziest Ralph Lauren outfit and headed to their palazzo to gossip under the stars and snack on pigs in a blanket with the who’s who of the design world. Ciao for now!

Sam Cochran, Global Features Director

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Color-gradient chairs by Massimiliano Locatelli

Sam Cochran

My first 48 hours in Milan have been a rich color story—from the bold hues of Bottega Veneta and Cassina’s woven-leather riffs on a Le Corbusier classic to Gucci’s oxblood update of a Gae Aulenti lamp (among other treasures). Local leading light Massimiliano Locatelli made his own rainbow, arranging a small army of his cult favorite chairs into a glorious gradient. Kohler and Samuel Ross, meanwhile, had us all seeing orange. And Hem debuted a cheerful yellow dining chair by Marco Campardo. (You’ll recognize them from Hem founder Petrus Palmér’s own dining room.) But where some zigged others zagged: Hermès erred on the side of chromatic understatement, forgoing its usual kaleidoscopic displays in favor of a poetic exploration of natural materials. One visitor aptly likened it to earth art. And Ralph Lauren Home delivered a pitch perfect paean to the automobile with its Modern Driver collection, a study in rich woods, burnished leather, and gleaming metal. At the brand’s cocktail party Monday evening, however, color hit design lovers’ lips in the form of aperol spritzes. Many more of those to come this week….

Sydney Gore, Senior Digital Design Editor

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Sema Topaloğlu’s “Non Conformist Garden”

Sydney Gore

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Kiki Goti’s installation at Alcova

Sydney Gore

It almost feels like I’m making my debut into society at Salone because it’s my first time attending, but I’ve never felt like I belong anywhere else more than I do here right now. My first day was seemingly all about tablescapes, starting with a reinvigorating lunch for We Are Ona at Fondazione Sozzani, followed by Beverly Nguyen and Clara Cornet’s “open house” for Boutique Homes (’twas the Marie Antoinette version of “girl dinner”). Somehow, in between the overflow of table talk, I also made it over to Capsule Plaza at Spazio Maiocchi, where I was immediately drawn to the squishy seating by Muller Van Severen in a delicious pistachio palette. I closed out the day with an absolute feast with Eames Institute at Trippa—I conserved just enough energy to enjoy a bowl of tiramisu before my entire body shut down and I scurried back to my hotel.

The next day, I spent my morning running around the pavilions at the fair in Rho. AD’s upcoming Seat Week is currently top of mind, so I swooned hard when I spotted a set of red coated Cesca chairs at Knoll, along with the sexy unveiling of the Catifa Carta chair by Arper and PaperShell. From there, I had the most enchanting afternoon in Varedo for Alcova’s exhibition, where I unexpectedly ran into my friend Kiki Goti, who had an installation there, before getting completely wrapped up in WKND Lab’s knotted candle sconces at Villa Borsani. (I was also delighted to see a room full of bows curated by Natalia Ortega of Worn Studio.) I only had about 15 minutes left to walk through all the rooms at Villa Bagatti Valsecchi before it closed, but the project I still can’t stop thinking about is Sema Topaloğlu’s “Non Conformist Garden.” (I’m a sucker for blown glass.) There’s still so much to see throughout the city, but I’m down to my last 24 hours—and intend to make every second count!

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