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A Chicago Design Pro’s Picks from Milan’s Salone del Mobile

Haute Living owner Jeffrey Smith visited the the design world’s trend-setting trade show, and this is what caught his eye.

The new, transparent Uncle Jack sofa, by Philippe Starck—revealed at the recent Salone del Mobile.   Photo courtesy of Kartell

Earlier this month, one of the biggest design events in the world went down in Milan, Italy: Salone del Mobile. This annual trade fair is one, huge, sleek show-and-tell for the most innovative contemporary furniture manufacturers in the world.

The event drew about 350,000 visitors (up 13 percent from last year), and one of them was Jeffery Smith, owner of River North’s Haute Living, which offers a thoughtfully curated selection of cutting-edge yet liveable design. Smith’s team created a fantastic video about their trip, which I highly recommend watching, as much for a glimpse of what the Salone del Mobile looked and felt like, as for the great scenes of Milan (and the rockin’ soundtrack).

Smith also shared his thoughts about what impressed him at the hundreds of booths on display.

How long have you been going to Salone del Mobile?

I have been going to Salone each year since 2008.

Anything in particular stand out this year?

Over the past three or four editions of the Salone, there has been a continuous evolution toward warmer colors and metals, such as brass, copper, and bronze. There has also been a back-to-basics approach to lighting—I saw several large, unadorned blown-glass globes with parts made of raw metals. The look at Milan this year is a reflection of the times: a search for warmth, security, and familiarity in an uncertain world. 

What manufacturer’s new products wowed you?

The things in Milan that caught our eye include the new transparent Uncle Jack sofa and Uncle Jim wing back chair from Kartell, which is a technological feat as the largest single injection-molded furniture piece of its kind, which was not possible to produce in such a large size until recently. Other things: Arne Jacobsen’s re-edition of his famous Drop Dining Chair at Fritz Hansen, originally produced exclusively for the SAS Hotel in Copenhagen; we will be carrying them at the store. I was also impressed by the concrete Steininger kitchens at Eurocucina. 

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