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Home Front: Green Tones, Exotic Wood 

Milan Furnishes Modern Inspiration

Italy is a world capital for fashion, and it's no accident that it's also a destination for devotees of modern furniture. "Fashion comes first, then it trickles down to modern [furniture] and then eventually to traditional," says Sarah Paxton, vice president of La Différence.

Visiting Milan's annual International Furniture Fair is a holy pilgrimage for those in the world of contemporary furniture, and Paxton recently returned from scouting new trends there.

Exotic woods like teak, ebony and zebrawood were in abundance, Paxton says. Much of this wood is now farm-raised, and the striated grains and rich tones were showing up everywhere: warming up stainless-steel kitchen displays and even showing up as a bathroom sink basin.

The prevalent colors were "green in every way you can imagine," Paxton says, and there was a renewed emphasis on black and white. The two-tone trend was most striking when painted or silk-screened onto glass, she says.

"They would take traditional motifs, like a floral damask pattern, and silk-screen [it] in black and white," giving the historic pattern a modern edge, she says. The silk-screen trend extends to tabletops, sliding doors and dresser fronts.

And after spending time in Italy, who can resist a fashion prediction? "Boots," Paxton says. "Pointy toes, flat heels."



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