The Salone del Mobile, the annual design fair that opens in Milan on Tuesday, has its finger on the pulse of the way we live now. It’s the show that struts the sexiest, most fashion-forward furniture and reveals the technical advances and eco-solutions of the hour (until next Sunday; salonemilano.it).
This year, the hot topic is... the workplace. Not the most electrifying subject, perhaps, but Workplace3.0, at the Rho fairgrounds, reflects a social change that is affecting many of us: the way boundaries between work and home have blurred, with the shift towards careers constructed from various jobs, often pursued from home, and the rise of offices that look like domestic interiors, with furniture designed to serve as both workstation and comfort zone.
Brands such as Fritz Hansen and Vitra, hitherto known for robust, high-use furniture for commercial projects, have plumped up their cushions and altered their palettes to embrace softer hues, materials and finishes, fit for a domestic — or faux-residential — environment, a phenomenon known as “resimmercial” design. Among the stars of Salone will be Vitra’s Soft Work system, by Barber & Osgerby, modular sofas that incorporate pull-up desktops and side tables.
As workstations creep into our dwellings, should we be concerned about our “always on” lives or congratulating ourselves for successfully integrating work and home? The designer and illustrator Emily Coxhead, founder of The Happy News newspaper (“for all the good things we don’t always hear about”), created a living room/home office for John Lewis last month.
Home-based since she left university and set up her own brand, which specialises in stationery and gifts, she emphasises the importance of an upbeat home office, crammed with colour and mementos that boost creativity: “I have family photographs and a little scrapbook of all the things that have happened with Happy News. I collect all sorts of things — things I have picked up on holiday or things people have sent me when they think of me.
“I’d recommend all of the colours — don’t be afraid. Sometimes you think that colours aren’t going to work together, but a lot of the time, they do.”
Made.com’s Lomond modular desk, in mango wood and black powder-coated steel, is shown with Lomond modular wide shelves on the right, and skinny shelves from the same range on the left. Desk and wide shelving unit £449 each; made.com
Oliver Bonas’s range of decorative furniture for the multitasking home includes the Meghan mango-wood desk (£395). It’s shown with a Kinship rectangular pin board (£45) and a woven raffia bamboo table lamp (£68). oliverbonas.com
Part of a brilliant British collaboration between Matthew Hilton and Ercol, the Pero is an elegant oak writing table. The USB-powered 90 Mini Mini desk light, in steel blue and grey, is by Anglepoise (£95; anglepoise.com). £1,500; ercol.co.uk
The sofa in this spacious study is perfectly placed to give laptoppers a view of the garden while they work. There’s generous storage by Neville Johnson and plenty of natural light. Fitted furniture from £3,600; nevillejohnson.co.uk
This Harold desk in walnut is by Luca Nichetto for De La Espada (£3,864); the tan Cross Leg chair is by Magnus Long (£1,395). Ornaments by Alexander Girard for Vitra. conranshop.co.uk
Muted walls make for a calm space. The panels are in Clocktower 17; the Ikea table, radiator and skirting are in Snow White 1 (Chalky Interior Matt). £47.50 for 2.5 litres; mandlpaints.com
Designed by Matthew Hilton for Ercol, the Treviso oak desk is an angular gem, paired here with an Originals Butterfly chair (£589). For a similar look, consider investing in a London table lamp (£489; originalbtc.com). £1,507; heals.com