The Best of the 2023 Salone Del Mobile — Part I
Much ado has been made about the death of monoculture in other areas like television or music, but to be honest, I’d never thought about it in terms of design until I was in Milan for the 61st annual Salone del Mobile last week. Design has long been a discipline of ever-spiraling-outward niches, but, reliably, the Milan Furniture Fair was where you could go to see it all in one place. But while Milan has often felt too sprawling for one person to take in, this was the year it seemed to fracture entirely. Scrolling through other people’s Instagram Stories, seeing exhibitions that hadn’t even made it onto my radar, much less my extensive Google doc, made me stop and wonder: “Are we even at the same fair?” You could compare notes with friends about which exhibitions were your favorites, but the overlaps were few and far between.
It’s hard to know how to feel about this. For some, the sheer amount of talent on view can act as a catalyst for inspiration, and you can walk away feeling as if you’ve filled your cup for the year. It can also be encouraging that there’s room for so many people to celebrate their work. But Milan also functions as a reflection of the inherent excesses of our industry — which become harder to ignore the larger that industry becomes, no matter how many talks on sustainability we put on. It’s also a reminder that, in many cases, there’s only room for a certain type of person. We rolled our eyes on Instagram as the invitations came in from some of the big brands, promoting the same circle of white men that have been lifted up throughout the history of design. But between that and the inclusion of actually racist motifs in one exhibition this year, it’s clear that there’s still so much work to be done.
Looking through our favorites from the week (we sound grumpy, but we did have some!), it’s hard to discern actual trends — though we’ll sneak a few mini ones onto IG — but we can see that our eye often alighted on the sorts of projects that allude to a promising future. There were so many talented women whose work was on view this week, including Audrey Large at Nilufar, Katrin Greiling for Tecta, and Grace Prince at Oxilia Gallery; could some of them be promoted to even larger projects?! And the fair itself is aware of its sustainability problem, this year hiring Formafantasma to develop modular, recyclable structures for Euroluce that can be dismantled and reused after the fair has ended.
The exhibition we loved the most — and heard uniformly wonderful things about this week — was by Objects of Common Interest, who developed their experiments in opalescent resin into a full-fledged collection for Nilufar Depot, so we’ll kick off our Milan recaps with that! Come back all this week for more.
© Ruy Teixeira
Objects of Common Interest © Ambra Crociani
Lucia Massari © Francesco Allegretto
Osvaldo Borsani & Michael Anastassiades © Filippo Pincolini.
Audrey Large © Filippo Pincolini
Khaled El Mays © Walid El Mays
Filippo Carandini © Filippo Pincolini
Vincenzo Di Cotiis
© Joachim Wichmann
Bar Flora at Palinurobar by In Common With + Sophie Lou Jacobsen
© William Jess Laird
© Michele Foti; Art Direction by Motel 409
Bethan Laura Wood
Objects of Common Interest
Germans Ermics © Mattia Greghi
Rugs by Pierre Charpin
© Maxime Verret
© George Baggaley
Marco Campardo + Laura de Cesare, curated by AMO © Natasha Stanglmeyer
Temporanea Galleria by Studioutte
© Andy Massaccesi
Michael Anastassiades © Piergiorgio Sorgetti
Marimekko x Sabine Finkenauer
© Claudia Zalla
Muller Van Severen for Kvadrat
© Casper Sejersen
Sabine Marcelis for Solidnature
© Marco Cappelletti
Tableau / Funct Feast
Living installation by Lily Kwong; netting by Michele de Lucchi © Silvia Rivoltella
New Tendency at Spazio Maiocchi