Salone del Mobile in Milan celebrates sustainable and innovative design


Each year the international design community meets in Milan for the Salone del Mobile, a showcase of the best furniture, materials, textiles and accessories in the industry.

Usually held in April and celebrating its 60th year in 2022, this year’s edition took place Sept. 5-10 and was dubbed the “supersalone” for its grand comeback from last year’s pandemic cancellation.

“Deciding to go ahead with this ‘supersalone’ took a good dose of courage and meant taking on a lot of responsibility – for the system, as a whole, and for the entire supply chain, which needed a physical and concrete occasion, not just symbolic and digital, to press the accelerator for a restart which, as we saw this week, is already in gear,” said Maria Porro, president of Salone del Mobile.Milano, in a statement at the close of the event.

More than 60,000 people attended the convention curated by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, which showcased 425 brands and focused on sustainability and the social and environmental value of design.

Tubes. Photo by David Ravier
Warli. Photo by Andrea Mariani
Lovato. Photo by Andrea Mariani
Reflex. Photo by Diego Ravier
Marzotto. Photo by Diego Ravier
Forestami partnership

In keeping with the theme of sustainability at the expo, Salone del Mobile.Milano partnered with the city’s Forestami project that aims to plant 3 million trees in the greater Milan area by 2030.

Visitors entered through a “forest” of trees with music from sound artist Federico Ortica and singer Marco Mengoni playing in the background, and could scan the QR code found on each tree to make a donation.

Photo by Diego Ravier
Photo by Diego Ravier
Take your seat

A special exhibition curated by Milanese architect Nina Bassoli, Take Your Seat explored the humble chair and its meaning within design.

The featured 30 winners of the Compasso d’Oro award and 100-plus honorable mentions from 1954 through the present depicted the way the chair has reflected and adapted to the culture, politics and needs of its time.

The materials, technology and aesthetics of each chair were linked to the society it was designed in throughout the timeline of chairs on view.

Photo by Diego Ravier
Photo by Diego Ravier
On the make

Curated by Mr. Boeri, the Makers Show highlighted the work of 39 independent designers.

Thanks to their pieces being self-produced instead of backed by a large company with the resources and factory space to make items on a large scale, the focus was on innovation and how the makers have come up with new products, new materials and new methods in their designs.

A reworking of old materials, use of recycled materials, 3D printing and ethically and handmade textiles all played a role in the many digital techniques merging with craft skills seen at the show.

Photo by Andrea Mariani
Photo by Andrea Mariani
Capping it all

A major highlight of the convention was the Lost Graduation Show, which showcased 170 projects from design students from all of the world who graduated in 2020 and 2021.

Curated by Anniina Koivu, a multi-hyphenate in the industry, the designs represented the future of design and used cutting-edge ideas, materials and manufacturing methods.

“The exhibition is an invitation to producers to believe in the value of young people, allowing them to try things out, experiment and make mistakes,” Ms. Koivu said in an interview with Francesca Esposito of Salon Del Mobile.Milano.

A jury of design leaders chose five winners that best represented the future of the industry: Robust Nest by Fabien Roy, an incubator for newborns to be used in underdeveloped areas; Regrowth by Simon Gehring, a table that uses computational design to eliminate wood waste; Fil Rouge by Pierre Murot, a new process for clay extrusion; Helix by Ithzel Ceròn and Daniel Lopez, a single material collapsible syringe; and Yolkkh, the Story of My People by Amna Yandarbin, a series of printed scarves tackling war, migration, feminism and independence.

Photo by Diego Ravier
Photo by Andrea Mariani

“We lit the fuse and sparked a chain reaction that has involved the entire international design community, the city of Milan and the sector as a whole,” Ms. Porro said in a statement.

“We are now looking to the future, with a renewed appreciation of the value and the history of this collective heritage, keen to embrace the new challenges by getting straight to work on the 60th of the Salone del Mobile.Milano,” she said.