The hustle and bustle of Milan Design week saw a number of emerging and passing trends, all battling for our attention in an instagrammer’s paradise. It’s probably safe to say we’ve reached ‘peak marble and velvet’ (the cynic in me is alive and well). In addition there is a growing focus on the design and production process, the use of sustainable materials or the re-purposing of unsustainable waste. And don’t forget the battle of the bags. Everyone wants to give you their own branded bag.
Amongst the noise, prosecco, parties and brash backdrop of Salone del Mobile, an oasis of Scandinavian quiet calm was also to be found. Crisp chair silhouettes in oak, plywood or ash; clear or black lacquered.
British designer Jasper Morissen once coined the phrase ‘super normal’ when asked to describe his understated furniture designs; shying away from passing trends. This toned-down purist design style was also in abundance.
Alongside key designers such as the Bouroullecs, TAF Studio, Konstantin Grcic and Cecilie Manz, traditional wood craft specialists including the Hansens (Carl and Fritz), Nikari, Artek, and Fredericia have responded to recent New Nordic market gains with calm, considered maturity.
This type of purist furniture resembles the elegant swan (the bird not the chair); clunky feet flapping and working hard under the surface, unseen to the eye. The clean and uncomplicated lines make it all look so simple. But each joint and structural element has been carefully considered, borne of craftsmanship, produced by those dedicating their lives to mastering woodworking traditions passed down through generations.
Aside from Scandi flavours, there is a widening of the design gene-pool with Asian contributors such as Nendo and Neri and Hu. Silent nods of respect are exchanged between brands and designers. This purist design movement quietly grows, without loud fanfare or fireworks. You just have to shut out all the background noise to hear it.