The shape of the Salone to come
Reportage by Elledecor.it for the Salone del Mobile.Milano. Reflections from the sidelines on the 60th edition of the world’s most important design fair
The City That Rises is an oil painting from 1910 by Umberto Boccioni. It depicts an industrious Milan (under construction) seen from the balcony of his house. The work is a celebration of the industrial growth of the Milanese suburbs. In the background rises a building nearing completion, surrounded by scaffolding, with the construction site, set within a lively and dynamic urban vision, telling us a great deal about the exaltation of technology and the new, the principal hallmarks of Futurist painting.
That eulogy of human labor (with modernity in a broad sense) has inspired Luca Privitera's photographic reportage. It presents shots of the exhibits being set up in the pavilions of the fair accompanying the reflections by which elledecor.it is launching its Live Special on the Salone del Mobile 2022 online on its digital platform (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok). Yes, because a few days after the official opening of what is universally recognized as the world’s most important design fair, preparations are underway in Rho to hoist in record time the parallel (and super analogical) city that from 7 to 12 June will stage the homes and furnishings of the years to come.
A cyclopean operation, returning to its original formula after a special, experimental edition, which broke the ice last September after the enforced stoppage caused by the global pandemic that immobilized the world in 2020. Expectations, as always, are running high. The reference here is not just to the special birthday (the 60 editions of the Salone) or the numbers (however important and we will count them at the end), but rather the contents. The question is: what kind of spaces will we live in and how will we furnish them? In the light of the renewed centrality of the theme of the home, and the acceleration triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic towards changes already underway, what part will design and objects play in our lives? How will we relate to them? How will they make spaces livable and habitable?
I get the impression that something changed after everyone spent more time than expected in homes that have become increasingly ultra-domestic, incorporating functions not previously contemplated in the domestic landscape. The gaze of each of us, in those long weeks, inevitably rested on every single piece of furniture in the home – which perhaps we moved several times – assessing its functionality (or performance?), its usefulness and, last but not least, its beauty.
The word flexibility comes to mind, a need that has long manifested itself in interiors, together with the different lifestyles that have become established in recent years: from changes to families to an increase in cohabiting, without neglecting the impact of digital technologies and immaterial connections, which have introduced a further reason for obsolescence into our homes, unless they are properly accessorized.
Then there are the socio-demographic changes and the environmental emergency. How can we fail to notice the emergence of processes that are disrupting a series of customary structures, as if the necessary change, towards which a certain resistance is usually manifested, did not present itself as the advent of something absolutely unprecedented, but a combination of known models and new models, or maybe models found through the memory of places? I’m thinking of the home-office, the return to the living spaces of activities that modern culture had expelled for at least a century from the home (store, workshop, office). But also of living on demand understood as a chosen and perhaps unrepeatable place, one more consistent with the desires that people can express, focused on individual well-being (both physical and mental) as well as the growing desire for sustainability, nature and greenery.
So is the furniture that furnishes our homes adequate to the new sensibility that is emerging? What is the point of view of companies and designers if, as Konstantin Grcic says, “making design means not just creating objects but above all a kind of thought: thought projected forward”? One wonders whether some form of change is already taking place. In recent years we have witnessed a shift in the meaning of the project, which has gradually moved from the design of furniture to the design of interiors, including finishes. As a result of this shift, sofas, chairs, tables, armchairs and lamps have become part of a whole capable of defining taste and lifestyle, a lifestyle that is also experiential, especially if related to the proposals made in Italy. For the furniture industry it was an important step that, in addition to having generated an interesting business at an international level, has created promising links between the dimension of architecture and that of design through the definition of interiors. That said, I would like the protagonists of the next Salone del Mobile.Milano to be the objects that give meaning to our actions, increasingly the subjects of our discourses and our desires. A forced closeness has made them less distant to us and we are now less distant from them. Whether this will really be the case we will soon know. The countdown has begun.
Article by Alessandro Valenti, director of elledecor.it. All photos by Luca Privitera.
The backstage reportage by elledecor.it for Salone del Mobile.Milano.