At its most basic, furniture is made to support gatherings large or small. One very large gathering, anticipated by furniture designers, dealers, and industry professionals worldwide, is Salone del Mobile, which has convened annually in Milan, Italy since 1961 — with the exception of the last two years, due to COVID-19.
Attending what is regarded as the global furniture event has always been important to Studio Como, providing the opportunity to revel in great design and reconnect with partners and colleagues in a shared environment. Along with more than 260,000 other guests from 173 countries, Studio Como founder and president Brad Fentress and design director Laura Folgoni made the trip this June with extra excitement after the exhibition’s hiatus.
For Laura, a native of Milan, the trip was a homecoming in more ways than one: a return to both her home city and the epicenter of Italian furniture design. “I was curious to see if anything special had been prepared for the opening after a two-year absence. I was looking for new concepts, new technologies, new trends,” she explains. “I was really looking forward to being back in the capital city of design and exploring our newest brands.”
In addition to visiting Studio Como’s established brands—like Minotti, B&B Italia, Poliform, Flexform, Cassina, Paola Lenti, Riva 1920, and Poltrona Frau—Brad and Laura were keen to spend time with brands that are new to the studio’s roster, like Noorth, an Italian bathroom furnishings line. Laura explains that the addition of Noorth will further Studio Como’s ability to provide clients with a diverse and complete portfolio. “By adding a bathroom line that follows European aesthetics, Studio Como can really be a one-stop-shop,” she says.
Laura is particularly enthusiastic about sharing Baxter Made in Italy’s new products, which were displayed in “an atmosphere that was surreal, inviting, and completely different from anyone else’s,” with Studio Como clients. “Baxter will be a nice surprise for many in our market who love comfortable pieces. Their line is fun and eclectic—sometimes their designs feel like art pieces turned into furniture,” she explains.
Similarly, a visit to Paola Lenti in her home factory in Meda was, Laura says, “a magical experience.” Thoughtfully placed in Lenti’s personally cultivated garden, all of Lenti’s pieces, even those that are not new, were integrated in the environment in surprising compositions and contexts. “I completely fell in love with her design sensibility. Everyone should experience this in life—it’s the apex of creativity,” Laura remarks. “The color combination was, as usual, stunning. Even though I love neutrals, outdoor spaces can be bolder. Color, when used properly, can really uplift the mood—and after a long pandemic, we all need a bit of that.”
The character of these displays, with their indoor-outdoor integration, signaled to Laura a greater shift. “The clear division between indoor and outdoor spaces is getting fainter,” she says, “the two are now becoming one. Outdoor furniture is just as beautiful, elegant, and luxurious as its interior counterpart.” She attributes these pieces’ expanded capacity to material innovations, in particular the new PET (recycled plastic) technology cushion filling that is as soft as down but is nonetheless appropriate for outdoor environments. “Minotti and Flexform both launched new sofas that are versatile and adaptable to many environments,” she says. “Easy living, easy-care, comfort.”
The only thing rivaling the design at Salone del Mobile 2022 was the embodied energy of the regathered community. “The best part of this event is always connecting with people in the industry, talking about what we’re passionate about, and finding creative minds that share the same love,” Laura says. “This is what drives us dealers to share the story with our clients, pass on the enthusiasm, and keep us motivated in the following months. It was great to be there and realize that nothing has really changed—the energy and the creativity is still in Milan.”