As Salone del Mobile comes to a close on Sunday, Milan can rest easy in the knowledge that its status as the world’s pre-eminent design destination remains intact after a couple of subdued years. Almost 2,000 exhibitors competed for the attention of hundreds of thousands of visitors, who had come seeking inspiration and to explore new developments in furniture, lighting and textiles. (In case you were wondering, no, creamy-white bouclé sofas and armchairs aren’t going out of style and, yes, minimalist, warm-toned lighting remains a good investment.)
An industry that has been insistent on getting in on the action this year is fashion. Italian and global luxury houses have swarmed Milan’s palazzos and courtyards throughout the week for Fuorisalone (the satellite events taking place away from the trade halls) to showcase their latest homeware collections, attracting a certain sunglasses-at-night crowd. Spain’s Loewe displayed a collection of whimsical, raffia-heavy chairs at Palazzo Isimbardi, while Hermès showcased rugs, chairs and lamps at La Pelota in Brera (pictured).
The convergence of fashion and design shouldn’t be surprising, given the aesthetic interests of both fields. And it makes a lot of sense in Milan, which is one of the world’s fashion capitals alongside Paris and New York. The luxury brands have brought some extra glamour to the proceedings and some of the hottest aperitivo events were hosted by the likes of Louis Vuitton and Hermès – though walking through the throngs outside the Bottega Veneta shop at Via Montenapoleone was not for the fainthearted.
There has been some concern that exhibitions by large fashion houses could overshadow young designers trying to launch their careers or smaller, craft-led studios – but the prestige they have brought has only enhanced Salone’s reputation. And, yes, there might have been a few of us from Monocle sipping frizzante wines at their events but I promise that our sunglasses always come off as soon as the sun sets.
Grace Charlton is a Monocle writer and researcher. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe today.