Under the ash plumes in Milan.

Despite the horror stories of being stranded in Italy under a veil of volcano debris, I’m still incredibly jealous of the DWR group who just returned from the Salone Internazionale del Mobile. Fortunately, our outdoor buyer Ben was kind enough to share his photos with me, and now I’m inviting you to share in this virtual journey to Milan.

The foliage-studded exterior of the Hedgehog (left), and it’s interior as seen when looking up at the sky (right).

During the Salone, the beautiful courtyard of the Università Statale di Milano was transformed into the “Think Tank” exhibit, which included a foliage-studded tower called the Hedgehog or il porcospino. Standing eight meters tall, the Hedgehog is the work of Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who describes the project as a “vegetable and meditative space meant to lighten city surroundings.” Um, vegetable? Personally, I find it strangely evocative of an erupting volcano. And something about it reminds me of the car park he designed in Lyon, France – a stunning, and perhaps even meditative, space for automobiles.

Lyon Auto Park by Wilmotte & Associates.

Back to Ben’s fabulous trip Milan. Naturally, DWR product was everywhere, including the Chester Lit Sofa, which looked especially chic in front of a restaurant in Milan, and not at all like a sofa that ate too much in Milan. Who knew that it would look so sculptural and cool in a real-life setting?

Our Chester Lit Sofa being enjoyed at a restaurant in Milan.

Ben (far right) with two of our partners in creating the Chester Collection, Pieter Aiello and Marco Serralunga.

Another product enjoyed by people at the Salone was the Hug, which we recently brought into our assortment. I have to admit that when I first saw the Hug, it didn’t grab me (but it looked like it literally could), so when I saw this photo of DWR sales wizard Caitlin sitting in it, I was surprised at how comfortable she looks. (And, it’s worth noting that I confirmed, via her husband, that indeed she was truly comfortable.)

Caitlin kicking back in the Hug in Milan. At right, the “Smart Grid Gallery” by Jaime Hayon.

Ben’s pretty photo of the “Smart Grid Gallery” by Jaime Hayon is even more special when you get that these Bosa vases are spinning, and the entire installation is solar and wind powered. Hayon’s concept for this work was to take the complexity out of smart grid technology, and make it easier for people to understand. In emphasizing the greater need for grids that can draw energy generated from water, sun and wind (how else are you going to spin your vases?), Hayon brings attention to his project’s sponsor, Enel, a company that believes “smart grids will make it possible for everyone to interact and exchange energy…just like the Internet has done for information.”

And speaking of powerful sources of energy, I had to include this photo of our CEO, COO and Ben, knocking the foosball socks off (but ultimately losing to) our friends Renato Preti and Massimiliano Moschini of Skitsch.

Clockwise, from top: DWR’s John McPhee, John Edelman and Ben Gaffney playing Renato Preti and Massimiliano Moschini.

This foosball table was designed by Borek Šípek for Skitsch and it comes with a glass top so you can turn it into a regular table after a fully exhausting foosball finale. What do you think, should we add it to the assortment?

Gwendolyn Horton