Design shows are always such an adventure to attend and Milan’s Salone, which just wrapped up its 60th year, is one of my absolute favorites. In the middle of several creative projects back at my studio in California, I wasn’t able to travel to the iconic show this year. The buzz, though, is that this year’s exhibition was literally full of refreshing and innovative products pointing to a new awareness in luxury design. The shift is taking luxury from consumerism to a new perspective inclusive of beauty, nature and well-being. Someone called it a humanistic experiential evolution taking design and architecture into the future. From what I have seen, this is an apt description.
The new collections and lifestyle concepts were innovative and supportive of the earth, the human body, mind and spirit. …. Let’s take a closer look!
If you love design, you probably already know that Salone del Mobile is always a highlight of the design world calendar. This year’s edition was no exception. With a strong focus on wellness and nature-inspired designs, there was a nurturing, inspiring and positive tone to the exhibits and product presentations. The show, which is the largest of its kind in the world, showcases new products from designers from all over the world with a focus this year on both innovation and well-being. The show is known for being the leading venue to display new products by designers of furniture, lighting and other home furnishings.
According to the spokespeople for Salone, this year’s event showed that “design is capable of engendering conditions and spaces for wellness, refuge and inclusion.” Much of the discussion at the show was about looking forward and not the past and how design and architecture can support social and ecological needs going into the future. Presentations during the show highlighted human beings, the planet, beauty and design. Sustainability and well-being were at the forefront.
The centerpiece of the show this year was undoubtedly the immersive Design with Nature exhibit created by architect Mario Cucinella where visitors could personally experience how design can promote physical and mental well-being. The 1400 square foot curvilinear installation showcased an ecosystem that represented the future of home and city living and was surrounded by fruit trees and plants. The display transformed the exhibition space into a landscape and refuge for gatherings, resting, reflecting and reading. Cucinella designed it as an example of a piazza, an integral space in an Italian city, including a bar, places to sit, a library and a conference area with a focus on the nurturing aspects of nature.
Everything in the exhibit was made using recycled or repurposed elements, showcasing 20 materials already on the market. The textiles were made of orange skins, the leather made from mango skin, the panels came from the skin of fish, carpet from recycled fishing nets and wallpaper from banana leaves. The exhibit was a positive message showing that there are new ways to do things that are both beautiful and work in support of the environment.
One of Cucinella’s themes he calls “the city as a mine” meaning that cities can become resource reserves where materials can be reused for construction, rather than stripping the Earth and using costly industrial processing for building materials by “mining” the steel, aluminum, concrete block, etc. which is already there. An interesting note is that he has done mapping and discovered that the mass of the human built environment on the earth exceeds the organic plants, animals and everything else on the planet.
Johns Hopkins University is also paying attention to the well-being factors in design and presented an installation at the show called “A Space for Being.” Susan Magsamen, the founder of Johns Hopkins Arts & Mind Lab, designed this multi-room exhibit which showcased design using neuroaesthetic principles – including light, sound, scent and texture – to explore how our biology changes in different environments.
See my article on “Are neuroscientists the New Architects?”
A myriad of trending wellness products made their debut at the show. These were a major theme and promise to rebalance, calms, energize the human psyche and body, through a variety of designs and therapies.
Effe presented a series of Italian designed sensory showers, relaxation pods and saunas complete with comfort chaises and a range of products dedicated to the sensory and olfactory dimensions. Multi-sensory is starting to be a hot subject in design and architecture.
Dorbacht launched personalized water therapy treatments which combine water, light and fragrance elements bring one into the present moment for multi-sensory shower experiences.
Gesso created outdoor wellness products which invite consumers to “fully experience the sensations that only an outdoor space can provide.” Technology and nature intersect with these contemporary fixtures made for the open outdoors.
Almar showcased their new Velvet Collection. The name itself sounds luscious! They promise that this “elevates the concept of shower, converting it to a soft and (100) enveloping experience, joining elegance, ecology and well-being.”
Giorgetti presented Amazonia a floor standing sculpture “designed to create a domestic forest.” It is composed of white glazed ceramic modules with an adjustable internal metal core and available in two different heights. It is designed to allow the combination of multiple stems to create a ceramic forest in your living room!
Their Hug chair was also presented. Designed by Rossela Pugliatti for Giorgetti, the chair is made of softly shaped u-holsters. It promises to envelop you with a comfy soft hug!
The company Starpool presented a new series of holistic wellness tools and environments. Serious about scientific back up, this company has established an internal research department to conduct studies to better serve its goal of understanding connections between product design and prevention, relaxation, wellness and stress management for their clients.
They have drawn from ancient wellness traditions and reinterpreted them to fit modern design and lifestyle perspectives with a mission for helping people live better for longer. In addition to an array of wonderfully designed products, they offer wellness consulting.
If you missed attending, be sure to check the Salone website for more information on all of the designers and products that were featured at this year’s show. And keep an eye out for these wellness-focused trends in the coming year!
The focus on nurturing, nature-inspired and ecological designs at Salone 2022 show a strong trend line for this coming time period. Well-being, harmony, and peaceful states of being were high on everyone’s priority lists after years of pandemic and other negative global conditions. They say social change starts with each individual. And if that’s the case, then the strong reception of these design principles is a good sign for the future. Look forward to seeing more beautiful, sustainable, and life-affirming designs in the years to come!