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Milan furniture fair 2011: Early looks from the show

April 13, 2011 |  6:50 am

The Milan furniture fair officially opened Tuesday, and so far I've seen only a fraction of the world's most important showcase for new furniture design. It's also the largest: Imagine walking a maze of furniture inside all four exhibition halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center, then walking it again. And again. We’re talking 2,265,803 square feet of furniture displays, a space larger than 39 football fields or 482 pro basketball courts. I'd calculate how many CB2 stores that might be, but I'm too tired.

The show continues through Sunday, but here are some early headlines: The free-spirited patterns that were a trend last year -- florals, geometics and free-form abstracts -- have disappeared almost entirely, replaced with a striking barrage of solid hues, as though manufacturers expect consumers to approach decorating as an exercise in color-blocking. In white, the Ploum sofa pictured above, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for manufacturer Ligne Roset, does indeed feel like you're sitting on a cloud. In solid red, it has a completely different effect, like a piece of Pop art.

Edra-LR-Grinza02 Designers continue to invoke new technology, using advanced materials and fabrications to create silhouettes that are thin and light yet structurally sound. Others, including Fernando and Humberto Campana, have done the opposite by premiering over-scaled chairs and sofas covered in upholstery that has been bunched up or crinkled to an extreme. It's a rumpled look that is sheer torture for the tidy minimalist. For example, there's the Campanas' new Grinza chair, right, at the Edra booth.

For me, the surprise of day 1 was the collection from the Italian firm Porro, which had a dynamite design from the Swedish studio Front. It's so new that Porro had not yet photographed the chest of drawers and cabinet, both with stunning geometric inlays in four earthy shades of oak. I'll be making the rounds with a photographer on Thursday, so we'll have images soon. In meantime, keep reading for more first impressions ...


At the Moroso stand, the crowds seemed enamored with Tokujin Yoshioka's Moon chair, above, but I was more drawn to ...


... Biknit, the "big knit" chair from Patricia Urquiola. The exaggerated weave is made of a UV-resistant fabric called Plastitex, set atop a wooden frame.


This year's show is loaded with new looks for the outdoors. The Lama chair is new from Zanotta.

Stay tuned for much more, here on this blog and on Twitter: @cnakano

-- Craig Nakano in Milan, Italy

Photos credits: From top, Ligne Roset, Edra, Moroso, Moroso and Zanotta


Milan furniture fair 2011 highlights in pictures


Molo's Hobo bag

Konstantin Grcic's Cape

Jarrod Lim's Koi chair