By Vanessa Ng

The Most Fashionable Highlights From Salone Del Mobile 2023

Craftsmanship was front and centre at this year's Milan Design Week

Evolving from a humble furniture fair to an international, week-long showcase on design, art and furniture, Salone Del Mobile is back and bigger than ever. Held annually in Milan, the design fair sees behemoths across art and luxury flocking to kick off discourses on the future of furnishing, around topics like innovation, sustainability, and craft. The city transforms into a landscape of parties, symposiums, exhibitions, pop-ups and more, with eager eyes set on the burgeoning “what’s what” in the lifestyle market. The RSVPs weren’t glossed over by fashion houses either—major leagues like Prada, Hermès, Loro Piana were sure to showboat their prowess in the field of artful lifestyle. As Salone begins on a high, glimpse the highlights below.

Loewe: Loewe Chairs

Loewe imparts the principle of unbridled decoration onto the simplest form of domestic—the humble chair. At this year’s Salone del Mobile, the Spanish fashion house is employing artisans to utilise craft techniques of weaving and embellishment to spruce up the “stick chair”. The “stick chair” models the simplicity of appearance and construction, as per its unfussy status and common presence in the household. Now, thirty of them are reinvented in a celebration of design, as affluent materials and artisanship see leathers, shearlings and metallics breathing new life into otherwise-overlooked seats. Each creation denotes inventive dialogue between artisans, their favourite medium, and the object, pinnacling in a tactile and textural protagonist in the shape of a four-legged seat.

Prada Frames: Materials In Flux

Prada explores the process of production, but in a high-glam, still-fashion way. For a brand informed by the implications of ethics and aesthetics, Prada’s contribution to Salone comes in the shape of a multidisciplinary symposium, Prada Frames. Succeeding last year’s theme On Forest is Materials In Flux, a homily on the concept of waste, production and the ecosphere of materials. Hosted in the grand Teatro Filodrammatici, one of Milan’s oldest theatres, renowned figures in sustainability, art, and anthropology took the stage to confer on the past, present and future of innovation in manipulating materials. Justin McGuirk, chief curator at the Design Museum and the director of Future Observatory, and Elvira Dyngani Ose, director of The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, were some of the notable speakers making their case at Prada’s symposium. In harmony with Salone’s overarching cues of design, vintage Azucena furnishings and lamps set the space, as designed by architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni in the late 1940s.

Bottega Veneta: Vieni A Vedere

Translating to “Come and See”, Bottega Veneta’s Vieni A Vedere sees design pioneer Gaetano Pesce inviting his identity into the brand’s prized practice of craftsmanship. In his seven-decade career, this marks the second collaboration between the multidisciplinary and the Milanese luxury house. Visions of Pesce’s life—in Intrecciato-coded mountains and prairies that reflect the landscapes of his homes through the years. The bags are glossy, airbrushed and reworked with meticulous crochet techniques, featuring seven shades of green calf and lamb leathers. Pesce’s creative carte blanche doesn’t stop there. The brand’s Montenapoleone store is also transformed into “a grotto” using resin and fabric. “I wanted a bag with an optimistic view. There is a capacity to realise anything at Bottega Veneta and this bag opens up a way to express future design. The design of the future has to be figurative and it has to communicate—such an object has to tell a story,” says the artist-designer-architect.

Loro Piana Interiors: Apacheta

For Salone 2023, Loro Piana Interiors is introducing Apacheta, a design collaboration with Argentinian designer Cristián Mohaded. Like an ode to Gaia, Loro Piana Interiors’s Apacheta installation draws upon the tradition of Andean travellers, who build piles of stones to mark paths and passes along the Andes trail as a tribute to Pachamama, or Mother Earth. With a shared reverence for design and craftsmanship, the collaboration yields a lounge-friendly and comfortable rendition of quality objects for the home, inspired by rocks but softened by the deft use of tactile materials. This homage to nature thus culminates in hand-carved pieces of furniture designed by Mohaded, covered with Loro Piana Interiors fabrics from old collections, giving discarded materials a second life. Situated inside the Cortile della Seta, at Loro Piana’s Milanese headquarters, a plush landscape awaits visitors. If you’re looking to adorn your home with one of these rocky replications, take note that Apacheta collection is available upon order only.

Photo: Courtesy of Loro Piana Interiors

Also read: Director Amanda Nell Eu Talks Tiger Stripes, Inclusivity, and Cannes Film Festival

Hermès: Collections for the Home

Hermès reverts to the simplicity of artisanship for this season’s creations for the home, to be launched in time for this year’s Milan Design Week. Minimalistic archaism is in focus, as the house’s spotlight on the fundamentals underscores their eminence in craft. “The Hermès creations for the home presented here assert strength through subtraction with effortless presence. This is the very essence of design, drawing inspiration from materials and expressed through skilled know-how,” read a press statement. True enough, the installation and all its domains reflects Hermès regard for technique and materials, enduring enough to be assembled into visually enticing pieces for the home. The result? Blown glass lamps, beautifully hand-embroidered rugs, equestrian-inspired porcelains created a muted, yet distinct, display at La Pelota, via Palermo 10.

Tod’s: The Art of Craftsmanship

Tapping onto the celebrity of respected photographer Tim Walker, Tod’s unleashes an image-based exhibition to underscore, well, the art of craftsmanship. Salone 2023 will have first looks at the spirited photojournalism campaign that tracks the house’s devotion to the objects and tools associated with the process of craft. Walker concocts a contemporary visual diary that rehashes the brand’s core values of exceptional construction and exalts the makers and techniques behind each object. The photo exhibition will run from 19-22 April, at the Cavallerizze of the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo Da Vinci, before making its way around the world.

Photo: Courtesy of Tod’s

Versace: Versace Home

Conceptualised as a black box, Versace Home presents a new collection of interiors in 500sqm at the Salone del Mobile fair, echoing a spirit of theatrical fun. Of course, the house recounts its codes of Classicism and mythology, as per the design cues of Donatella Versace and contemporary architects Roberto Palomba and Ludovica Serafini from ps+a studio. Created with Luxury Living Group, the Home collection further decodes the house’s FW23 collection, utilising Baroque and jacquard patterns and crocodile-embossed textures to create a cohesive vision a la Versace.

Dior: Dior by Starck

Another design collaboration for the books: following his creation of the Miss Dior chair in 2022, Philippe Starck teams up with Dior again. This time, he’s balancing the scales for the maison, via Monsieur Dior, a structured armchair fitted in countless colours, patterns and materials (yes, even the maison’s emblematic toile de Jouy is available). “After Miss Dior, it was natural to expand the family. The duo of creations, the Miss Dior Sweet chair and the Monsieur Dior armchair, are perfectly balanced through these essential, existential notions of gravity and lightness, of yin and yang. Miss Dior and Monsieur Dior, Catherine and Christian Dior, the sister and the brother, the chair and the armchair, is the story of a sublime complementary duality,” said Starck. The Monsieur Dior chairs will be available in selected boutiques from 2024, and to order at all Dior locations.

Ferragamo: Engineering Miracles

Ferragamo toes the line, literally, with a new vision of balance and engineered physics. The brand’s Milan storefronts will be receiving special Salone treatment, in the theme of Engineering Miracles. Unspooling the house’s foundational pillars of design and balance, the stores will be updated to centre architectural interactions between the SS23 creations and taut elastic ropes. The latter, which symbolises the core notion of balance, recalls Salvatore Ferragamo’s studies on anatomy, and the interactions between aesthetics and “graceful gaits”, as per a press statement.

Photo: Courtesy of Ferragamo

Also read: 7 Fashion Icons From 90s and 00s TV Shows That Influenced Our Styles