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This is not just a lamp...AJ at the Milan Furniture fair

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James Pallister and Crystal Bennes report on the spectacular creations launched at this year’s annual Milan Furniture Fair

If you’re a furniture design enthusiast, or what the Italians call ‘una archistar’ with major-label creations to flog, then chances are you were in Milan last week for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile. This year’s Salone will be remembered for the travel chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano. It tuns out that the creativity of the design community extends to elaborate escape plans, and thousands made their way home by bus, bike and boat. But before the turmoil came design – and lots of it.

In Milan’s Triennale Design Museum, a black bamboo stand designed by Gijs Bakker displayed work by Yii, a Taiwanese group of designers and craft artists. Ikea chairs and lamps (see above) embellished with lacquer, porcelain and gold-plate were beautiful détournements of familiar objects.

1 The Stellar light by Tokujin Yoshioka is encrusted with Swarovski crystals and lit by LEDs

In the Tortona district, Slovenian designer Nika Zupanc’s Wind Pavilion used the Qbiss modular facade system by Trimo, decorated with dozens of tiny windmills (see image 4). In the Superstudio Più exhibition space, Jean Nouvel gave his name to the Hook wall- partitioning system by Methis, while British designer Tom Dixon’s team of boilersuited fabricators mass-produced lamps for sale at a bargain £100 each.

2 A stool and table from Nigel Coates’ Animalia collection for Fratelli Boffi


The fair continued outside the city centre in the Massimiliano Fuksas-designed Fiera di Milano exhibition hall. Big names such as Piero Lissoni for Cassina, Philippe Starck for Kartell and Karim Rashid for Della Rovere displayed their wares. UK designer Nigel Coates unveiled his Animalia collection (image 2) of furniture for Fratelli Boffi, upholstered with tweed, leather and tapestries of hunting scenes.


4 Nika Zupanc’s Wind Pavilion uses the Qbiss modular facade system by Trimo, decorated with little windmills

5 The Edge desk lamp by architect Amanda Levete for Established & Sons


 6 The Pulse music box by Swedish duo Modern Times is actually an iPod docking station

Part of the Fiera was given to a show for young designers, SaloneSatellite. A charming music box by Swedish duo Modern Times, an objet d’art-cum-iPod docking station (image 6), was one of many playful concepts from northern European designers. Perhaps next year’s Salone will see a spate of volcano-themed lava lamps and ash trays.

7 A wastepaper basket by Serbian designer Ana Kra

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