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Top 4 Highlights from Salone del Mobile’s “Supersalone”

A design tour through the 2021 furniture fair in Milan features product showcases, installations, and more.

By Rachel Gallaher

woman photographed in front of mural at furniture fairMilan SuperSalone

The much-anticipated Supersalone— a special 2021 event under the banner of the Salone del Mobile.Milano—opened this week in Milan.

Curated by architect Stefano Boeri in the format of a design library come to life, the annual furniture fair (which is usually held in April) showcases the new products and creations brought out by companies over the last 18 months. A smaller version of its usual form, Supersalone is the first large international design fair to open its doors since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the world, but it is no less impressive. After walking to floor over the past few days, GRAY has rounded up some top highlights from the show.

Salone del Mobile.Milano’s First Female President

A group of masked executives at ribbon cutting Milan SuperSalone

Salone del Mobile.Milano Maria Porro (center) opens the fair.

Just a couple of months before the fair, Salone del Mobile.Milano announced that they had appointed Maria Porro its new president, making her the first woman to hold the role. The former president of Assarredo, the Italian trade association for furniture manufacturers (she was also the first female president), Porro brings a fresh energy and strong focus to the role.

“I grew up with the Salone del Mobile,” she says in a press release. “When I was a kid, my grandfather Carlo used to take me along to the pavilions at the old venue. I followed when the Fair moved to its new site in Rho, and I was thrilled to be able to attend the Shanghai Furniture Fair. Today, I am honored to take on this role at such a vital and transformative time.”

A Forested Welcome

outdoor architecture installation landscape exhibit Milan SuperSalone

The Forestami installation at the entrance of the fair.

Welcoming visitors to the east gate at the Rho, Milan Fairgrounds, where Supersalone is being held, are more than 100 trees that make up an immersive, pop-up forest. The result of a partnership between the Salone del Mobile.Milano and Forestami—a project that involves the planting of 3 million trees in the metropolitan Milan area by 2030, to clean the air, improve living conditions, and counter the effects of climate change. The “forest” winds its way through the fair and into the heart of the exhibition space where another hundred trees provide rest areas, bring energy to the space, and bring attention to large issues of sustainability. After the show, the trees will be planted in and around Milan.

The Lost Graduation Show

Colorful wood chairs and tables concrete floor art wall Chiaki Yoshihara Milan SuperSalone

Seam of skin by Chiaki Yoshihara

The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on everyone over the past year and a half, but for students—particularly those in graduating classes—the lack the usual festivities (graduation ceremonies, project presentations, etc.) left many feeling dispirited and detached. A special exhibition at Supersalone, The Lost Graduation Show, curated by Anniina Koivu, is giving select students a chance to present their work on the international stage. Showcasing 170 projects by students who graduated between 2020 and 2021 from 48 design schools in 22 different countries, the exhibition touches on all sectors of design including furniture and product, mobility, inclusive, medical and sports design, materials research, and design sustainability. Learn more about the projects on display through the Instagram account @thelostgraduationshow.

Products, Products, Products

table lamp furniture vignette faceted globe light Kartell Milan Supersalone

A table lamp at the Kartell booth at Supersalone.

The beating heart of Supersalone is the new products displayed in every aisle. Italian designers dominated the show floor, displaying everything from lighting, furniture, accessories, kitchen and bath products, surfaces, textiles, and more. Top-name designers including Patricia Urquiola, Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid, and Nani Marquina were seen presenting their work and walking the show floor. Bold colors, minimal lines, and simple forms seem to be popping up everywhere—designers are announcing their returns in an eye-catching fashion. Keep your eyes out for GRAY's product highlight post next week.

Supersalone runs through September 10.


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