17.–23.01.2022 #immcologne

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Rethinking interior design

Modern Italian design demonstrates the spirit of innovation

It is the land of some of the finest leather and the first piano: Italy is famous not just for its high-quality materials, but also for its inventiveness. This spirit of invention is clearly in evidence in innovative furniture. Alongside unusual shapes, new materials and mechanisms are playing an increasingly important role. Here we present innovative design ideas from Italy – from hidden furniture handles to smart features and novel materials.

'Reflex' bathtub in new material Cristalmood by Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A

The Reflex bathtub by Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A is made from the newly developed material Cristalmood. (Photo: Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A)

Unique furniture made with new materials

The desire for durability, individuality and sustainability is continuing to drive the interiors industry. Using recycled materials to create innovative furniture or making furniture to measure are just two examples of the direction that current trends are moving in. New materials and high-quality production processes are allowing designers to rethink classic furniture in an entirely new way, but without changing its shape.

One example of this is the patented material Cristalmood . Developed by Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A, it serves as the foundation for unique bathroom furniture. The liquid synthetic resin is poured together with colour pigments into a mould. Once it has hardened, it is sanded and polished. Tiny air bubbles and different colour gradients, sizes and strengths make each piece of bathroom furniture produced in this way utterly unique. Yet Cristalmood is also an extremely robust and easy-care material that can withstand aggressive cleaning agents and cosmetic products, as well as being light-resistant. Bathtubs and washbasins made from this new material meet the desire for individual design and high quality.

'Reflex' bathtub in new material Cristalmood by Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A

The Cristalmood material in the Reflex bathtub by Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A is extremely robust and easy-care. (Photo: Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A)

Invisible furniture handles as an eye-catching feature

From kitchen units and drawers to sideboards and under-bed storage boxes, handless furniture with push-to-open operation has been on-trend for several years now due to its minimalist design. Italian designers are taking the concept in a new direction, transforming hidden furniture handles into design objects in their own right. For instance, cabinet fronts such as those by calligaris have small, sculpted protrusions on their lower edge. With their curved shapes, they create excitement while also serving as practical handles. The organically shaped protrusion lends the home a natural charm, is pleasant to hold, and protects children’s hands from being trapped.

Leaving gaps in cabinet doors is another popular alternative to traditional handles. The design of these features is simple, nothing can get caught on them – and they cannot fall off. However, they immediately catch the eye on white furniture. Italian designers are making furniture handles invisible and giving smooth cabinet fronts a three-dimensional appearance with elaborate patterns and mystical colours – take the BS4 Aquamarine Getsby or S2 Amazon Forest sideboards by Furny, for instance. It is hard to say whether form follows function or vice versa in these Italian designs.

Handleless shelf S2 Amazon Forest by Furny Sia

The elaborate patterns on the S2 Amazon Forest sideboard by Furny SIA make the handle virtually invisible. (Photo: Furny Sia)

Smart design – without technology

There is no stopping the advance of digitalisation in the furniture industry. Start-ups are leading the way in creating individual customer experiences and extremely efficient manufacturing processes with online configurators, 3D measuring technology and augmented reality. But new technologies are also playing an increasingly important role in the furnishings themselves, as smart furniture and the connected home demonstrate.

But innovative furniture does not necessarily have to be digital, and the latest multifunctional furniture is stunning proof of this. Designer Pietro Russo, for instance, makes use of trusty, old mechanics, employing a mechanism that resembles a revolving door in his Hide&Seek sideboard. The cylindrical compartments can be closed and opened as required using the rotating mechanism – without any cabinet doors protruding into the room and taking up space. The lightweight, multifunctional piece of furniture doubles as a room divider because the compartments can be opened at both the front and the rear. Just the thing for micro apartments and co-working spaces!

Sideboard Hide & Seek by Galotti & Radice

The cylindrical compartments in the Hide&Seek sideboard by Gallotti&Radice can be opened and closed as required using the rotating mechanism. (Photo: Matteo Imbriani)

Italian design: strikingly inventive

New materials, hidden furniture handles and smart mechanisms – modern Italian design is impressing yet again with its fresh ideas and meets many of the market’s needs and wants. The innovative furniture, mechanisms and materials developed by Italian designers demonstrate in highly impressive style how beautifully aesthetics, individuality, multifunctionality and durability can be combined. Discover more trends from Italy and much more besides in the imm cologne magazine !