“We advocate an idealistic agenda in design, as we deplore the obsession with the New for the sake of the New”, say designer Hella Jongerius and theorist Louise Schouwenberg, in the manifesto “Beyond the New”, published just a few days ago. “Cultural and historical awareness are woven into the DNA of any worthwhile product. Otherwise the designer is merely embracing newness for its own sake – an empty shell, which requires overblown rhetoric to fill it with meaning”.

The place to challenge these kinds of observations would definitely be the Milan Design Week in general, and Salone del Mobile in particular, considered the most important design event in the world. This is the place where all the furniture companies launch their new products, and where eventually the decision is made whether to leave the product in a prototype mode, or to take it to the next level of mass production.

Eames Plastic Chair Group for Vitra

Polder sofa by Hella Jongerius for Vitra

When in search for the new in this year’s Salone de Mobile, as in the last 2-3 years, “new” does not necessarily means new shapes or new products, alas it usually means new colors, sizes etc. For example, since the introduction of The Eames Plastic Chairs, created by Charles and Ray Eames, the average height of people has increased. Vitra, in consultation with the Eames Office, has raised the seat height of the chairs by 20 mm, and in addition, the range marked as “new” has been complemented with six new colours curated by Jongerius.

Another example: in 2005 Vitra first introduced the “Polder” Sofa by Jongerius. With its unusual shape and carefully crafted combination of colours, materials and textures, it made a mark on the typology of the contemporary sofa. Now, ten years later, the Polder Sofa is being updated with the new “Polder Compact” and some new combinations of colours and textures.

Kartell Installation in Salone del Mobile

Kartel launched “Kartell Fragrances” - a sub-brand dedicated to the innovative formula of combining home fragrances with home décor items, made from colorful plastic and designed by Ferruccio Laviani. Antonio Citterio has created for Kartel a versatile family of tables, Patricia Urquiola created a new bookshelf, Philippe Starck extended the “Aunts & Uncles” family with his latest table, Sir Gio, and Eugeni Quitllet put his name to a new chair, the “Dream’Air”, in which the main characteristic is the combination of diverse materials within a geometric base structure and an ethereal and transparent seat.

Kartell Fragrances by Ferruccio Laviani

Philippe Starck for Kartell

Patricia Urquiola for Kartell

Eugeni Quitllet for Kartell

At last, in order to mark 50 years since Le Corbusier passed away, Italian furniture brand Cassina asked the artist and designer Jaime Hayon to honour this great architect, by creating a set of accessories, such as ”The Bird”, a letter holder; “The Bird House”, which holds small objects such as a mobile phone or coins; and a range of wooden tables that resembles iconic buildings by Le Corbusier.

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Jaime Hayon for Cassina