Art appreciation

Milan’s Salone Del Mobile catches the attention of Indians

As the world’s premier design fair, the Salone del Mobile is a popular event. This year’s edition saw strong Indian participation, acting as a possible precursor to greater Indian participation in the future.

Just as moviegoers and fashionistas are glued to the cover of the Cannes Film Festival, design aficionados everywhere have eyes only for the living room mobile, the iconic design fair held in Milan. This event sets the world benchmark for the best in furniture and accessories. Its last edition, which also marked its 60e milestone, took place in June after a two-year hiatus and multiple postponements, at the Rho Fiera Milano exhibition centre. A design-hungry clientele from all over the world flocked there, ensuring a resounding success for the event. Attendance at this year’s Salone, as it is colloquially known, went way beyond expectations. More than 2,62,000 people from 173 countries attended the show and 2,175 brands, of which at least 27% were international, enthusiastically participated. Although Chinese and Russian participation was noticeably absent, Indian participants numbered over 4,000, making India the 7e highest country in terms of participation.

This is not surprising as Italy has always been the highest benchmark for exceptional design. According to His Excellency, the Italian Ambassador to India, Vincenzo de Luca, this is due to the “natural sense of aesthetics that permeates Italian artistic culture. In addition, innovation and respect for the highest quality of materials ensure that Italian design remains up to date with changing times and trend demands. Last but not least, the work of generations of Italian designers, when put together, creates an exceptional blend of aesthetics, artistic expression, quality and functionality fully represented by our user-friendly products.

Milans Salone Del Mobile attracts Indian attention

Clear and contemporary certainly define the Italian design aesthetic, but how do Indian ideas fit into it? According to the Ambassador, there are many similarities between the design practices of our countries. “Italy and India have always inspired each other. There are several stories of Italian designers inspired by Indian experiences, such as that of Italian architect Ettore Sottsass whose work was inspired by the architecture and colors of South India. Many Indian designers look to the world of Italian design as a benchmark,” he says.

Milans Salone Del Mobile attracts Indian attention

This is certainly the case with Orvi, a hand-crafted interior design and surfaces brand in Jaipur, Rajasthan, which was exhibited at Salone this year. They collaborated with Italian designer Matteo Cibic for a collection called Filo, which consisted of contemporary handcrafted home pieces and raw yarn-inspired surfaces. Drawing heavily on the principles of geometry, the designs in this collection used shades of cream, green, red and black, as well as gleaming brass in the centuries-old art of bas-relief, known for linking the traditional craftsmanship with modern aesthetics. The other top Indian brand exhibiting at Salone this year was Jaipur Rugs, which exhibited its collection of intricate rugs and carpets on this platform for the first time. Yogesh Chaudhury, the Director of Jaipur Rugs, expresses the brand’s elation at participating saying, “Our unique concept has been a major draw for buyers around the world as they have appreciated the fact that we are promoting the art of the regions rural areas of India which have its own uniqueness. We have received tremendous appreciation for our collections, especially Brahman, Wunderkammer, Sthir and ours Manshaha collection which has brought us laurels from all parts of the world. It was such a lovely feeling and we are honored to be recognized by such an esteemed gathering of design experts.

Milans Salone Del Mobile attracts Indian attention

FCML, one of India’s leading interior and lifestyle products companies, also participated. Abhinav Khandelwal, the firm’s chief executive, believes the huge appeal for Salone this time around was because European design firms have done extremely well during the pandemic. Since they were at the top, their investments must also have been generous. Naturally, most of the Indian participants belonged to the design fraternity of our country. Saba Kapoor of Delhi-based interiors brand Nivasa also participated for the first time. She candidly shares, “It was great to be surrounded by such incredible creativity and to learn about the latest trends in materials and finishes. As it was my first time here, I realized that the Indian brands back home were already doing a really good job. It was so nice to see that we are on par with global designs, and in some aspects, like the level of innovation we bring to our products, even ahead of others. I am sure that with a little more encouragement, Indian brands will not be outdone in the next editions of Salone.

Milans Salone Del Mobile attracts Indian attention

One aspect that Kapoor particularly liked was Salone’s overall sustainability theme. The Salone Satellite, the wing dedicated to presenting the work of young up-and-coming designers, was solely dedicated to this concept. One project that really stood out was ‘Design with Nature’, which explored the idea of ​​a circular economy positing cities as possible ‘reserves’ of raw materials for the future. Other projects have also used recycled or eco-friendly materials to create products that are usable and durable, yet beautiful. This resonated with Kapoor who also aims to achieve a higher level of sustainability through his work at Nivasa.

The event may be over and the glow of excitement may have dulled, but one thing is clear. Led by a generation of young visionaries who skillfully marry centuries of craftsmanship with contemporary needs, India’s increased participation in future editions of Salone del Mobile and other such events is certainly within reach.

Noor Anand Chawla writes lifestyle articles for various publications and his blog

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