This year's Salone Internazionale del Mobile represented a "new starting point", a fresh start – if you will – as outlined in its first ever manifesto, which literally calls on the A&D community to embrace and champion innovation and sustainability.
Now in its 57th year, Milan is no doubt responding to an increasing awareness of our impact on the planet and how we can reuse, repurpose and recycle materials, furniture and products to tread more lightly and consider the environment in everything we do.
Plastic was a hot topic with many stands and exhibitions sharing innovative new ways to bring the material back to life and make it more sustainable for the future. Japanese designer Kodai Iwamoto, for instance, showcased his vases and vessels crafted through a technique of "plastic blowing", similar to what we expect from glass. While Trashplast caught our attention over at the Ventura Future exhibition. An innovative material, it claims to be made from 100% trash and its deep grey colour is apparently because that's what naturally happens when lots of different coloured rubbish is combined.
The theme of sustainability at Milan continued with a wealth of global brands. For example, an air-purifying installation by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma for Dassault Systèmes literally blew us away. Part of a Design in the Age of Experience exhibition, “Breath/ng” was made up of giant suspended coils wrapped in a special pollution-neutralising fabric.
Meanwhile, Panasonic marked its 100-year anniversary with Transitions, an immersive installation featuring innovative air purification technology. And Google teamed up with trend forecaster Li Edelkoort to host Softwear, a sensory show that looked at how we can make tech more tactile in future.
Animals were also considered – the ever-popular Moooi presented a Museum of Extinct Animals at this year's festival. Presumably, to highlight the need to protect near extinct species with its inspired collection of new fabrics, leathers, wallcovering and carpets that bring the "essence of some mysterious creatures back to life!"
While MINI Living (as pictured) looked at the future of urban living and how we'll cope when we have less space. Working in collaboration with Studiomama, the pieces of personalised built-in furniture, integrated with semi-transparent coloured "shells" formed "new model neighbourhoods focused not on permanence, but on perpetual change."
All in all, Milan 2018 certainly proved to consider the environment, the importance of sustainability and how the entire design community can continue to innovate.