Italy's annual most anticipated trade fair attracted the who's who of the design world, making the competition fierce and setting expectations high. Salone del Mobile took place in Milan from April 17 to 22, with a futuristic design theme that could not have been more exciting. There was no shortage of furniture styles or innovative accessories at Salone 2012, but the real emphasis this year was on diversity of materials and attention to detail. Fabric houses such as Kvadrat and brands including Creazioni and Bottega Veneta experimented with an abundance of different textures, materials, surface designs, as well as colour.
The 15th edition of the Salone Satellite - the fair's hotspot for hundreds of young designers from all over the world - included pieces from the American University of Sharjah's College of Architecture, Art and Design, making it the first-ever institute from the Middle East to showcase works at Salone del Mobile. Eight of the furniture pieces displayed were designed and built by students who incorporated and experimented with two-dimensional graphics, form and typographic patterns.
"This world-class event is very competitive and producing a piece of furniture or accessory that is completely unique is difficult," says Peter Di Sabatino, Dean of College of Architecture, Art and Design, American University of Sharjah. "All of our eight pieces have a distinct quality about them and each one seemed to create an incredible energy among the visitors. Amal's Prayer Chair by Emirati student Sarah Alagroobi got particular attention because it was new to the creative world; the texture, quality, surface treatment and Arabic typology represented the Middle East in a way that has never been done before."
The Out Now exhibition was also dedicated to the next generation of design talent, showcasing conceptual designs from a young international team who studied at the Scuola Politecnica di Design - the first design school to be founded in Milan. This gave us an encouraging glimpse into the creative brains of the future forerunners of furniture, lighting and accessory design.
Regular Milan exhibitors, such as Versace Home, launched a furniture line that was more vibrant than ever. Our favourite was the Versace Wave dormeuse, which is available in electric blue and acid green, making it a definite statement piece. Selva's new furniture collection, Vendôme, fuses style, comfort and function, while its latest fabric range is made up of subtle earthy tones, playful floral patterns and velvet appliqués. There was plenty in store for those on the look out for creative contemporary design. Pianca's new seating collection, available in Dubai at Kart Furniture, is a good investment. We love the Isotta armchair - it's chic, stylish and timeless.
We also admired the striking Lightnest wall lamp that was the result of a collaboration between design firm Freedom of Creation and Dutch designer Frederik Roijé, which is available worldwide through its website.
Aside from the fabulous product launches and sophisticated accessories, the ultimate message from the world's most reputable design week was that texture, attention to detail and form are the biggest trends of all.