Italian Design Preview 2017 From Milan

Hi everyone, it's me Holly and I'm back from exciting adventures in Milan, Portofino and Genoa. I spent a week in Milan on assignment for Kvadrat to attend the wonderful Salone del Mobile. The Salone personally invited me as 1 of 100 journalists globally to attend as a special guest, too (Thank you Katie and Camron!). If that weren't enough, I was also invited by Milan's DDN Magazine to join a tour organized in collaboration with 11 major Italian design brands (listed below). The lovely Francesca Russo of DDN led us, a group of European design bloggers with cameras ready, through stands at Salone del Mobile - you can watch a video of it here (you can see me speaking at 9:10). The day was fast-paced and interesting, so I'll spare you the details and present you with some of my favorite things from a few of the brands that we visited throughout this post.

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Isola Shelving System from Gallotti&Radice which just won the Wallpaper design award

Okay so, because this is a blog and it's my space to say whatever I want, I have to be honest here... Before this tour I wasn't that thrilled to visit Italian home brands because few of them appealed to me - too over-the-top and ornate for my taste. I was reluctant to go on this tour, but my friend Desiree sort of convinced me and because she has great taste and I trusted her I figured WHY NOT? Plus, I wanted to hang out with her and my other friends Agata and Anastasia and going on this tour was a great excuse because they'd all be there!

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Cookie table from Gallotti&Radice

As I approached the fairgrounds, I thought that I really need to open up and stop being so stuck on Scandinavian design. This tour didn't have to ONLY be about being with Agata, Anastasia and Desiree and meeting the DDN team, it could also be so much more -- broadening my views in design,

I spent my teens and all of my twenties being positively addicted to French design and fashion and all of the interiors coming out of London. I nearly moved to Paris twice and London three times when I was single. I've only been big on Nordic design for a decade now, mostly since relocating to northern Germany where Nordic design was once considered boring but has sense grown to become the leading design style in the northern part of the country.

I love Scandi style, but I felt like I needed to branch out and get back to my roots of mixing and matching themes again to make my home feel more personal but also warmer and more sophisticated. Going on this tour, and to Italy in general, changed the game for me. I'm back to my roots again. I can rock Scandi while bringing in things from all over the world, including the beautiful pieces from Italian designers shown throughout this post.

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Sign Filo chairs in gold and copper from MDF

If there is one thing we ALL need to do more of, it's to pull out of our comfort zone and step wayyyy back and see everything we think we know, again. The last time I really LOOKED at Italian magazines was, well, too long to admit. I'd never been to Italy before last week. I obviously love Italian life and culture, half of my family in the states married into Italian families, my uncle is Italian and my mother remarried an Italian.... Some of my closest friends are Italian. What was my problem then with Italian design? Why did I only regard it as dated, stuffy and distasteful? I was so wrong and I'm glad my week in Milan gave me a brand new viewpoint because it was needed.

Oglof from JCP 

While some of the brands we visited didn't resonate with me, I was completely transformed not only by the presentation and design overall, but from visiting with the designers and hearing their perspective on what they'd created.

In fact, not only on the tour but also in the many design studios I'd visited throughout the city, the lighting brands, all of it - was really inspiring. And don't get me started on the Italian bathrooms and kitchens (Salvatori bathrooms left me speechless in Brera, and ask my friend Toni who assisted me on this trip, I am RARELY speechless), they were simply incredible.

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Cloud pouf from Gallotti&Radice

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Cozy sofa from MDF in pink (love!)

Papillon wall lights from Arflex

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Chair and pouf from Roberto Cavalli Home

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Corolle chairs from Arflex

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Kartell by Laufen mirrors and shelves

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Flow Color chairs from MDF

Here are the brands that we visited, linked below: JCP DesignGianfranco Ferrè HomeRoberto Cavalli HomeArflexAnnibale ColomboGallotti&RadicePoliformMDFNatuzziKartellArtemide

I'm still not completely sold on the over-the-top luxury brands that just drip with luxury and look better suited to a hotel or casino than my humble home, but just as German design has evolved over the years, and American styles too, Italian interiors are experiencing a metamorphosis as well. I could feel a rumble beneath the surface while in Milan that the smaller design communities there are making - the shift - and I feel Milan is only going to get better and better in the years to come - stronger and stronger. I'm curious to see where the years ahead will take the fair and Design Week in general and I'm definitely going back to Milan next year because that was truly the best interior design fair and citywide design event I'd ever visited - five stars!

-Holly