At this year's Milan Furniture Fair, the theme seemed to be "slow design". A number of brands, from Japan to France, showcased sustainable creations made with carefully selected and hand-crafted natural materials in sharp contrast to industrial manufacturing.
The Japan-based Ritzwell design company, for instance, uses solid walnut and oak, combined with thick leather and steel, according to an AFP report.
"We don't do mass production, all our furniture is finished by hand. Design and comfort are very important," Wataru Yano, Ritzwell's marketing director, told AFP. “Our products are timeless, they last a lifetime and are passed on to the next generation. They are a synthesis of Japanese tradition and contemporary design.”
Nature and sustainability are also the watchwords of Finnish wooden furniture designer Nikari, located in Finland's oldest machinery workshop, states the report. The workshop is powered entirely by water from a nearby river, the report states.
"We want to lower our customers' blood pressure and create a comfortable home where harmony and calm prevail," says CEO Johanna Vuorio.
The wood Nikari uses "comes from Finnish forests. The trees grow very slowly, some are over a thousand years old. Our tables and chairs can last for more than a century," Vuorio said.
One of the latest creations, a handmade "century-old" coffee table, sat at the entrance to the stand, its cracks a sign of its authenticity, adds the AFP report. "We are not looking to make easy money with cheap solutions. We produce at our own pace without rushing," she said.
Italy-based designer Francesco Meda also follows the sustainability model, says the AFP report.
"Instead of presenting, like in fashion, 20 or 30 new collections every year, and putting so many objects on the world market, it is better to make fewer, but beautiful and sustainable ones," he said.
Meda reinvents "iconic objects created by great masters who have marked the history of design" by giving them "a contemporary touch".
"A quality chair can last 150 years," he said.