Global Brands Muscling (Poorly) into Furniture @ Salone Milan 2012

Global Brands Muscling (Poorly) into Furniture @ Salone Milan 2012

Milan is a city of contradictions – grey, conservative, and traditional, yet it embraces new and challenging ideas in fashion and furnishings. The fusion between fashion and design has never been as strong as it is today.

Once again, global fashion labels used the Salone’s 300,000 visitors to extend their reach from clothes to the living spaces, debuting new collections and pieces and again highlighted the strong creative synergy between these two universes.

To balance wobbly consumer spending in Europe and other regions, the design world, like the fashion one, is increasingly reaching out to emerging markets. And designers are taking notes: Those regions are hungry for the essence of the brands and the lifestyles they communicate.

No group is more mobilized than the city’s reigning fashion contingent – partnering with designers, architects and furniture producers, A-List fashion labels are trying hard to muscle in on the Furniture industry’s party.

A sensibility for materials, compositions, colours, patterns, proportions and shapes are all familiar to the Grand fashion and Automobile houses. However they have a long way to go before they gain a fuller understanding of the needs of the customer when it comes to furniture.

We have considerable reservations as to quite how deeply the two industries can interact, given that they operate at very different paces.

Fashion espouses the short-lived and readily replaced. Furniture on the other hand – sometimes responding to R&D into innovative processes, materials and construction – makes products to give decades of use, or even longer still through its increasing use of new technologies.

The global reach of fashion brands makes them well placed to speak to consumers for whom the label is more important than the design content.

To date , most of the furniture developed by these global brands have owed their development more to brand extension theory rather than by “compelling design”.

To see what the Global brands released at the Salone please continue on here

While homeware collections have long been a brand spin-off for fashion’s big names – with the likes of John Rocha, Nicole Farhi, Jasper Conran and, this year, Diane von Furstenberg and French Connection in the market – increasingly global fashion housesis entering the more complex world of complete furniture lines

Home collections have been among the bright spots in the recession-plagued fashion and luxury goods worlds, so it’s no surprise that global luxury brands brands were keen to piggyback on the Salone del Mobile fair this year in the hopes of luring consumers to buy more fashion, not just furniture.

The fashion world cannot stay away from events or partnerships that show their own ability to present home decors or design objects bearing their own signature

Last year saw Acne, Giuliano Fujiwara , Bottega Veneta, Jean Paul Gaultier and Hermès launch furniture collections.

This year designers like Armani, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Moschino, Blumarine, Mila Schön, Marni, Fendi, Coveri, Tommy Hilfiger, Gherardini, Dolce and Gabbana and Missoni are some of the brands that presented their collections at he Salone. Include also Trussardi, Prada, Emilio Pucci, Etro, Ermenegildo Zegna, Kenzo, and Borsalino and you can see how the fashion industry is scrambling for attention.

The fashion-brand invasion of the furniture world may be a good thing – for its introduction of good design to those who may not otherwise have considered it.

Even given relatively poor resources, furniture brands may have missed a trick in not raising their profiles more proactively, especially since there is a growing overlap of their customer bases and younger, fashion and brand-conscious shoppers are set to become increasingly important.

The design industry has a lot of work to do in communications. It’s going to be increasingly important to show a brand story and highlight the people behind a design company and its individual products to combat the power of Versace or Armani et al

It is not just customers that are overlapping: so too are trends, as the design industry increasingly takes its cues from the fashion world.

Design has to take a lesson from fashion’s responsiveness to how people look, live and choose to present themselves..

After all, the fashion industry is very forward-thinking in terms of its research into trends, research that the furniture industry can tap into: to take a textile development and reproduce that in some way in upholstery, for example. And if you want to know where colour is going next, whatever the industry, you need to look to fashion.

We certainly look at fashion in terms of its line on colour, pattern and texture  – Furniture can certainly be inspired by fashion in a way that it wasn’t perhaps a decade ago.

Fashion House Collections 2012

“There is a return to brand identity and products that are very recognizable,” said Versace, poured into a black and gold dress that blended with the pattern of the sofa she was sitting on. “There is too much uniformity around.”

Donatella Versace is one of Milan’s hometown heroes …. “I think this is our ultimate home collection since it’s the perfect blend of fashion and design. It’s pure fashion in 3D! I wanted to make my outfits live in the homes of people and I think I finally succeeded. I love it because it is so direct and powerful that people will have no doubts when they see it: they’ll know it’s Versace.”

Donatella Versace’s collection was a joyful trip through her colorful, iconic patterns, framed by the brand’s Greek frieze — all marking a strong return to her brother’s original Baroque sensibility

The Versace home collection draws on baroque, vestal and aquatic themes, for brightly colored furniture that mixes and matches fabrics and prints. The Milanese fashion house presented its new home collection dominated by a lot of fashionable features. The new furniture lines reflect the leitmotifs of the brand: Vanitas, Greek Key and Baroque. These themes have long been a part of the Versace design lexicon, dating back to Gianni Versace’s days

It’s hard to imagine who else would combine leopard print, gold, heraldic crests, and crowns—on a single chair.

If there’s no mistaking Versace, it’d be hard to mistake Maison Martin Margiela, either: the Maison has once again created a temporary apartment at the fair to showcase its furniture, produced by Cerruti Baleri.

Maison Martin Margiela unveiled objects in sync with the philosophy of the house, combining comfort, creativity and resourcefulness

For Marni’s installation, spearheaded by designer Consuelo Castiglioni’s daughter, Carolina, the label collaborated with a group of ex-prisoners in Colombia to create 100 woven chairs that will travel worldwide to Marni stores.

As part of the L’Arte del Rittratto (art of the portrait) charity project, the Italian label has brought out a limited edition collection of 100 pop-inspired chairs. Designed in Columbia by former prison inmates on a reintegration program, each one is based around a chic, brightly colored metal structure

“The result is great. They are really 100 special pieces. We also wished to support an Italian project, or more precisely a Milanese one. We found the institute ICAM, that allows mothers in prison to live with their children, up to 6 years old, in a family environment.” said Carolina Castiglioni

The project, however, does not mark the brand’s entrée into furniture.

“At the moment we have no plans to create furniture collections,” Castiglioni added. “This special project is linked to the Salone del Mobile 2012. It is part of the Marni approach to bring together different projects and realities.”

Roberto Cavalli chose the Salone to launch Roberto Cavalli Home, the designer’s first interiors collection, which takes the Roberto Cavalli look into the home with the signature animal print seen in recent collections.

It isn’t surprising then that Roberto Cavalli’s first home collection included zebra-print armchairs and the “Jaguar” spotted rug.

“I don’t know if you can furnish the whole house with these pieces,” conceded Cavalli, “but I love it, I’m really happy. I take ideas from my fashion, and the home line complements that. I want it sexy. I love color not only in fashion but also in furniture. When I see those minimal, Japanese-style, very rigid designs, I don’t like them.”

The designer signed a slew of licensing agreements for the collection, including with Industrie Emiliana Parati for wallpaper and Caleffi Group for bedding.

With a circular bed and bedside tables in hand-sewn leather and suede, velvet and silk cushions hand-embroidered in gold, silk hand-woven rugs, and sphere lamps in Murano glass, this collection is wall-to-wall luxe

Bottega Veneta presented its latest range including a new line of seating made in collaboration with Poltrona Frau.

On the other end of the colour spectrum, the Italian fashion company famous for its discretion, quality and craftsmanship introduced monochrome furniture designs with the usual standard of luxury.

Salvatore Ferragamo and Molteni&C have joined forces to present the work of the Parisian designer Constance Guisset, winner of the Paris Grand Prix du Design, who created the wooden MO lamp and SOL rocking chair that will be installed at Ferragamo’s Via Montenapoleone boutique.

To mark the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Salvatore Ferragamo has teamed up with artist Constance Guisset and design house Molteni & C to create the unique Mo & Sol collection. Presented as a pop-up show, the collection comprises a soft, sculptural lamp and a natural wood rocking chair. As a bonus, the house has even released a limited edition handbag, Mini Sofia.

A flurry of rose and mimosa patterns embellished Blumarine’s lilac and pink sofas, testimony to designer Anna Molinari’s passion for buds.

Featuring a similar look to its ready-to-wear line, Blumarine presents a collection of furniture in purples and pinks. Sofas, tables and armchairs in fluorescent colors are available in floral prints, for a home that pops with color.

The new home collection distinguishes itself clearly by using prints of the maison with particular attention paid to floral patterns, appearing in various colours and combined with animal prints. Beds, sofas, chairs, tables, seats and soft furnishings have been designed with clean and classic lines with modern materials, keeping with the true Blumarine style. Unique details in diamanté, studding and lace underline the exclusivity of each piece, carefully produced in Italy.

Walter Ragazzi, chief executive of Idea SpA, which produces Blumarine furniture, said the line, now in its third season, has doubled sales over the second season. He attributed the gains to the fact that the collection is “very much personalized. One of its strengths is that it is recognizable, with the designs that characterize the Blumarine brand.” Ragazzi said that customers in China, Russia and the Middle East buy into the “general concept,” and customize their houses with a whole “project,” not necessarily single pieces.

Hermès unveiled Model H, its new line of modular architectural elements to serve as both wall decor and partitions, designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban

Antonio Marras teamed up with Milan-based design retailer Rossana Orlandi to launch Milly, his first home collection. “I started from fabrics, for which I have a great affinity,” said Marras. “This collection represents a sort of ideal continuation of the last runway show. It’s a kind of patchwork of the fabrics I used for my fall collection.”

The collection particularly fits the requests coming from emerging markets, including Asia, Russia, Brazil and India. “They don’t buy single pieces, but they look for complete stylistic solutions, and they also look for established names that reassure clients.

Moschino teamed up with design label Altreforme to create a collection inspired by the Harlequin masks of the Commedia dell’Arte.

Having created waves in the fashion world with the launch of the Maison Moschino hotel in 2010, the brand has now taken the next step, bringing their wild and wonderful furniture designs to homes.

For ten years now, Armani/Casa has been producing refined, minimalist homeware. For its latest collection, the label draws on the myth of l’age d’or, for a series of pieces with matt bronze finishing, gold plating, marbling and high-shine strips. Go for gold!

Giorgio Armani’s Oriental touch and workmanship, such as a French technique from the Twenties and Thirties that employs straw, was entirely in line with the designer’s sensibility and aesthetics.

“The Oriental way of thinking is not characterized by one single logic but is the result of thousands of influences and overlappings that express themselves through different symbols and decorations,” said Armani. “I have re-elaborated them according to my taste for linearity and for the essence of things, trying to maintain the incredible richness of signs, which enchants me.”

Darker and Dustier tones were evident at Missoni Home this year.  A continued evolution from the designer fashion brand Missoni, which continues the traditional Missoni pattern styles, including designs of stripes & abstract floral motif produced in a varied mix of multi bright colours.

Issey Miyaké traces back to his origins and proposes Japanese paper lamps, stylish and poetic at Artemide.

Moncler, the king of down, also proposes for the first time a down-feathered sofa, signed by Gilles & Boissier.

Moncler showed its fun side when it teamed up with interior designers Gilles & Boissier to work on a reinterpretation of the label’s classic padded coat in sofa form. The surprising result is the Sit on my doudoune sofa, bringing together geometric lines and soft stuffing, for maximum comfort

Dolce & Gabbana creative directors Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana took a free-wheeling approach to the Salone del Mobile, designing a leopard skin pushbike for long bike rides in the countryside

Lapo Elkann’s Italia Independent presented a special limited edition of the Smeg fridge covered with a stain-resistant and waterproof denim.

Certainly Paul Smith’s joke at the launch of his Cappellini chair – “If  designer Tom Dixon came to me and said he was designing clothes, I’d think, ‘What do you know about it?'” – makes a point that almost a decade on seems much less relevant.

Indeed, the fashion furniture market keeps drawing new players: high-street name Esprit, for example, has just launched a kitchen furnishings line. And fashion brands are not the only ones getting in on the act.

Automobile Furniture Collections 2012

The Automobile Industry is also making their moves into furniture

Global fashion and automobile brands exploit their brand power, convincing ‘victim’ consumers to go beyond the clothes and cars and adopt a whole lifestyle – it’s furniture as an expression of status, for the new wealthy in particular.

Fashion and Car brands are selling a point of view that some people want to buy into as much as possible

Aston Martin introduced a furniture range this spring

Mercedes-Benz released a furniture line for the first time at the Salone.

Lamborghini not to be left out – presented furniture pieces as well

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