Besides the Matterhorn, a 740 km long border and a national language, Switzerland and Italy share a long tradition in the field of design that goes back to the 1940’s. This was when “Swiss Style” took off, through a fortuitous artistic exchange that occurred between Zurich and Milan.
The Italian city is now home to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the most important furniture and furnishings fair in the world and one of the best known for industrial design. The 55th edition of the festival, whose numerous events and exhibition areas involve the whole of Milan, ended just a few days ago after marking a record attendance.
Materials and surfaces have always featured strongly in the bold – sometimes even experimental – fair exhibits. A striking aspect in recent years is the tendency of designers to give increasingly important value to the sense of touch as a fundamental factor in the perceptual process associated with the experience of a product.
As tactile marketing expert Olaf Hartmann puts it, every day we are exposed to thousands of audiovisual messages and this onslaught reduces their effectiveness. Consequently we attach more value to what we recognise as “the sense of truth” which we consider more reliable because it presupposes a direct contact with the material.
Designers from around the world, and not just those from the furniture industry, are familiar with this principle and are increasingly focusing on tactile stimuli when creating their products.
This latest edition of the Salone was brimming with furnishing elements whose surfaces have been designed not only as stylistic details, but as essential and distinctive elements. There were numerous instances of working and finishing: there were those who had created three-dimensional geometric patterns, some who reproduced the irregular shapes of nature and others who played with the vacuum created by the absence of matter, giving shape to unexpected surfaces.