Direct from Market: Macef, Milan, Italy
Caroline Kennedy -- Gifts and Dec, 10/8/2012 3:11:21 PM
Macef, the Italian International Home Show, took place September 6-9, at the Fieramilano complex in Rho, just outside of Milan, Italy. This 93rd edition drew some 81,000 attendees (according to show management) from across Europe and around the world, including a contingent from the U.S. Gifts and Decorative Accessories encountered a number of Americans known to us-rep agency principals Peter Schauben of Appelman & Schauben, Atlanta, and Jenny Hammons of Jenny Hammons Company, Healdsburg, CA and Seattle; retailers Mary Liz Curtin and Steven Scannell of Leon and Lulu, Clawson, MI, and vendor/retailers Edward Vanegas and Paul Chansingthong of SubUrban/Suburban Hill, Boulder, CO. They were in attendance to view the offerings of the more than 1,500 mostly Italian exhibitors offering furniture, home decor and accessories, tabletop and kitchenwares, gifts and fashion accessories.
The organization of the fair made it easy to navigate and shop. The "Via Maestra," a new feature of the layout of the show, was a well defined pathway that helped attendees navigate from hall to hall and within each hall, hitting the highlights of each area's exhibits but not deterring one to stray from the major path to explore the aisles between. Each hall was organized according to category: Kitchen & Tabletop; Bijoux: jewelry and fashion accessories; Gifts; and Furniture & Home Decor. The home décor exhibits, which make up the bulk of the fair, were further delineated by highlighting Classic and Traditional Italian design its own hall.
In a city renowned for style, the focus at Macef was on style-Italian style. The "Opera Italiana" section of the fair was a juried showcase of some of the best of Italian style. The exhibitors' products ranged from classic to contemporary in design, and included a wide representation of product categories: furniture, rugs, lighting, silver, leathergoods, ceramics and textiles. Several exhibitors in this section showed just how creatively the materials can be recycled, upcycled or repurposed into something new and fashionable. Where in the U.S. we have seen wine barrels recycled mostly into wall art and candle holders, San Patrignano recycled all parts of the oak casks into a range of contemporary furniture and accents, such as chairs, tables, porch swings, textile rack/room dividers, and even a rocking horse. IDI Studio displayed a selection of contemporary furniture pieces made of reclaimed wood with the weathered, aged wood and mixed layers of old paint creating an attractive design element. Even floor coverings were recycled into patchwork wall hangings by Tisca.
Villa Home Collection has taken the simple wooden drum shell and reinterpreted it into lamps and lighting, storage containers, side tables, trays and boxes and more, with a Scandinavian influence. Some of the trays featured delicate laser-cut designs. Ars Vivendi, which uses the ancient Cocciopesto technique (finely ground terracotta fragments combined with binders to form a hard ceramic surface) primarily for flooring, tabletops and decorative panels, introduced a small collection of jewelry pieces featuring the ceramic medium.Taking another direction were two companies that reimagined their material in new ways.
One very striking special exhibit in this section, entitled "When Silver Comes to Life," was presented by the DeVecchi Design Studio. It was part of the "AbitaMi lab" themed exhibits throughout the fair that show examples of product innovation, use of materials, manufacturing process and sales modes. This exhibit showed the evolution of the studio's products and organic design style. It really was a showcase of quality contemporary Italian silver design for which the studio is renowned.
Flowerssori Furniture, which produces wooden furniture for children. The pieces are atypical of children's furniture in its simplicity and sophisticated contemporary design. The pieces are constructed of veneered ash and beech wood that is sustainably harvested and coated in clear anti-bacterial finish. Other exhibiting designers/companies showcased creative use of recycled plastics, glass, PVC, bicycle inner tubes and tires, fibers and other materials.Another of the AbitaMi lab presentations was the "Stories of Sustainable Things," a grouping of product displays focusing on the creative and artistic use of sustainable and recycled materials, turning them into desirable home, gift and stationery accessories. In this group was
Other special exhibit areas, Creazioni, Creazioni Designer and Creazioni Lab, highlighted the artisan-artist-designer process. The exhibitors in these sections are small designer companies and up-and-coming designers who are perhaps the future of Italian design and artistry.
Chehoma may have had an answer to the question: Inside. It had a natural wooden cabinet that had an interior painted bright red. Another exhibitor, the Masoni Collection, answered differently; it really popped with fluorescents.Where has all the color gone? Overall the color palette in furniture and home accessories at Macef was decidedly neutral-black, white, cream and shades of gray and natural beiges reigned supreme. It didn't matter whether the look was contemporary or classic, the color palette (or lack thereof) was the same. There were some spots of color noted as accents, with muted reds and blue being the dominant ones. This especially since the American Stars and Stripes and British Union Jack motifs were a popular theme on chair upholstery, wall art, pillows and more. In some instances, the spots of color were more surprising.
Dialma Brown, whose stand was very creative structure created from shipping containers. The lifestyle presentations within were a mixture of vintage, industrial, repurposed and modern design elements, looks that were also interpreted by other large exhibitors such as Lorenzon Gift and Innova Living.Location and city-influenced themes were also noted. Items with iconic images of popular cities-New York, Paris, London-were shown on boxes, storage "suitcases," totes, wall art and a myriad of other items and handled in both contemporary and vintage ways. Some contemporary looks incorporated modern city images and typography in a Pop Art style. Vintage looks referenced postage stamps, post cards and flag imagery, which may be representative of a greater overall world traveler design look. This was particularly showcased at
In another approach to city style, Riverdale introduced its City Couture collection made up of two different lifestyle looks: Downtown Glamour and Uptown Chic. For an editor from New York, these collections were very relatable to Manhattan's Upper East Side and Soho area lifestyles, where different types of personalities gravitate to live.
In the Bijoux area, the jewelry made big bold statements. Earrings were very oversized. Necklaces featured waterfall layered looks, chunky chains and big beads. Notable were passementerie and fabric "chains" and fabric-wrapped wire creating free-form "weaves."
New, Notable and Fun
Villeroy & Boch tempted customers with a showing of a new home fragrancing line that it is introducing. The complete concept will be available in January and is comprised of six fragrances. There will be a diffuser bouquet, a room spray, a candle and scented ceramics.
The Italians are not beyond adding a little whimsy into their designs even adding a little bit to a classic design such as adding a candelabrum to an oversized ceramic dog figurine as we saw at Abhika Casa. Arti e Mestieri's stand had figural bookshelves climbing the walls. And from the French porcelain dinnerware company Medard de Noblat, a whimsical dessert set featuring dogs drew much interest.
Millefiore Milano introduced the Millefiori Milledy: a personal fragrancer that clips to a handbag for a little scent on the go. It comes in eight different fashion colors with or without a coordinating scarf.
Vinyluse presented a clever recycling of old LPs with its music clocks line. The company laser-cuts scenes and designs into the vinyl LP and adds a clock mechanism. The effect is both decorative and fun.
Macef is an excellent showcase of Italian design and style-from highly decorated and ornamented looks that define its classic style to the clean-lines and innovative styling that define its contemporary style. From bonbonnieres, silver and leather to Murano glass, ceramics and stylish furniture, Macef has plenty to offer. The next Macef is set for January 24-27, 2013.
We would love your feedback!