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The furniture’s bright, the furniture’s orange…

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Ian Martin takes a trip to Milan Furniture Fair’s smart periphery

Bit blurry after my annual tour of the Milan Furniture Fair’s smart periphery. I never want to see another amuse-bouche in my life, even if it is a latticed quail microhub designed by eminent artist-engineer Santiago Calatrava.

Oh, and spare me the chippy jealousy. Like you wouldn’t hang out behind the scenes with some of the world’s top ‘furnauteurs’ looking at really good beta stuff that’s not even on the internet yet.

Not everyone can afford a £4,000 chair. But some people can. That’s why international salons are so tiresome and vulgar. And why I prefer to stay far from the madding crowd, flopping about in private, socialising with mercurial furniture creators on their mercurial furniture. To wit …

THE PEEPELDOKKER. Not so much a ‘sofa for living in’ as an entirely new way of ‘living in a sofa’. Crafted from a wood and textile melange devised by New Sofist wunderkind Shep Witters for high-end sofa wranglers DFS Lenin, the Peepeldokker pushes at the boundaries of extendable sedentary environments with notions such as ‘proximal TV’ and ‘informally planal dining interventions’. Where does sofa end and life begin? Perhaps it’s easier to ask ‘where does sofa begin?’ It begins here. At either end.

WHIMCLOUD. Created by radical collective The Chaise Longuepigs for furnifacturer Bangi, this ‘post-urban sitting opportunity’ will be the talk of next season. The version I saw, though not entirely safe to sit on, was a marvel of theory, material and process.

Moulded from ultralight opaque monosodium carbonate, it resembles a giant prawn cracker. Most importantly – in contrast to traditional furniture – the Whimcloud encourages the user to question their surroundings. ‘There doesn’t seem too much happening here, apart from this giant prawn cracker. Where am I? How is it even floating in the air? How do I get on it? Will it collapse?’ And so on. Exquisite.

SITUATION COMEDY. The thinking behind this reimagining of the chair, by legendary ‘digital hermit’ Klaus 72 for Hairy Father Spatials, is deceptively simple. Turn an ordinary chair upside down. Much more interesting, suddenly. Now find a way of plausibly seating someone on it. Put the upside down chair on another chair the right way up and add a cushion.

‘Yes, a solution, but a solipsistic one …’ Klaus insists. ‘One chair alone is a social abomination. Several upside-down chairs together, however, may form a nodular cluster, all facing in different directions.

‘Twenty years ago people all stared into the corner of the room at the TV screen. Ha ha ha, idiots. These days everyone’s doing something different, though admittedly probably all looking at a tiny screen in their hand, so with SitUation COMedy you could maybe have the chairs above and below one another to bring people more into one another’s eyeline, or maybe a miniature Ferris wheel, any of that cocaine left?’

COLLABYRINTH. This is more of a project than a product, which makes it hugely desirable in the context of a furniture showcase. If indeed the pure energy of furniture may theoretically be contained by ANY case, however accomplished the theoretical joinery.

Collabyrinth brings together 30 of the industry’s hottest young designers, each contributing a thought to the notional furnituristic narrative and then passing it on.

Thus a simple beanbag-with-a-twist mutates, evolving into a complex ‘resting matrix’. As one of the very few non-furniturians to have been vouchsafed a glimpse of what animateur Bib Funnel is calling ‘dialectic consequences in serial, stuffed form’, I urge you to secure your own glimpse as soon as possible. Assuming you have, like me, VIP access to this kind of thing. Otherwise, I think there’s a documentary on one of the Living channels later this year.

RISING STAIR. By MC Shroomblagger for upscale furniturologists Stannah & Sisters. Wow. This is so far beyond furniture, it’s as if furniture has travelled through some kind of furniture wormhole, to emerge into another galaxy of possibilities. Welcome to a world of brutal taxonomy and meta-furnitural backspin. Imagine an environment where you’re permanently going upstairs, yet stationary. Exactly. Wow.

DIE NACHTREKLEINE. Perhaps my favourite future furniture, caught in that inspirational gleam between thought and word. Although still very much at the pre-conceptual stage, I’m confident that someone somewhere will be about to think of an industrial form, digitally milled, with a soft overlay and organic colours.

Here’s to the futurniture!


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