Form follows… Material: The rise of Mono-material Furniture

In the realm of contemporary design, a significant trend that became particularly evident at this year’s Milan Design Week is the emphasis on mono-material furniture—pieces entirely conceived and crafted from a single material. This movement underscores both sustainability and aesthetic simplicity, with metal and wood emerging as preferred materials due to their functional advantages and unique artistic qualities.

At the event, the versatility of metal in mono-material pieces was on full display, ranging from sculptural lighting to sturdy seating. The Belgian studio MOTO, for example, presented their STACK aluminum shelves as part of Adorno’s Animism Exhibition at Alcova and the Baranzate Ateliers. Constructed entirely from raw aluminum without joints, this series exemplified the trend, leveraging aluminum for both its functional properties and visual appeal. Designers such as Tim Teven, Dirk Duif, and Thomas Serruys, primarily working with aluminum and stainless steel, also emphasized this shift towards sustainable practices; the durability of these metals supports the industry’s drive towards longer-lasting and easily recyclable products.

Concurrently, wood has retained its prominence in furniture design due to its enduring allure and adaptability. The natural warmth of wood and its sculptural flexibility make it a continual favorite for designers dedicated to mono-material projects. The challenge and fascination lie in the craftsmanship required, especially in works like Project 213a’s side table, sculpted from a single piece of wood, demanding advanced joinery skills.

Heilig Objects utilizes the inherent beauty of lively heartwood patterns to enhance their pieces uniquely. Their THRONE draws inspiration from the progressive gradients in the ceiling architecture of Carlo Scarpa’s Tomba Brion, reflecting the dynamic structures in its design of 36 oiled ash-canths.

Eero Moss, also featured at the Animism exhibition, is another designer who has dedicated his practice to this discipline of wood joining, adopting an intuitive approach, meticulously reading and understanding the wood before shaping and joining it into the final piece.

Adorno’s collection further showcases how metals like steel and aluminum are increasingly popular for creating minimalist mono-material furniture. For instance, Six Dots Design Studio in London exclusively uses aluminum, exploring innovative expressions of design, and Mati Sipiora‘s stunning stainless steel-work as seen in his Spektra and Cosmic chairs.

The ‘Animism’ exhibition featured designers such as Julia Chiaramonti with her Sedia 1 Stainless Steel Chair and LESORR’s smoothly rounded aluminum chair. One stand-out piece that shares qualities similar to wood-joinery, is Nicholas Erauw’s T-003 chair. With his signature technique of casting the wax he shapes like candles, he also joins the pieces with aluminum making it into a functional artwork.

Metal chairs and tables, known for their minimalist design and durable construction, align with contemporary interior trends, while wooden items connect us to the natural world, adding tranquility, texture, and timelessness to spaces.

The adoption of mono-material design simplifies the recycling process, as items made from a single material are more straightforward to repurpose or recycle. This approach fosters environmental sustainability and promotes a minimalist aesthetic, where the material’s intrinsic beauty is showcased. Moreover, it challenges designers to push the limits of creativity within the constraints of a single material. The ascent of mono-material design mirrors a wider shift in the design industry towards materials that are both visually appealing and environmentally considerate. As designers further explore the capabilities of materials like metal and wood, the future of furniture design appears increasingly inclined towards simplicity and ecological responsibility.

The deliberate use of a single material in furniture design responds to global calls for sustainability and a minimalist design ethos. As demonstrated in Milan and through Adorno’s carefully selected pieces, mono-material furniture made from metal and wood is establishing new benchmarks for future design, where the materials themselves are celebrated for their innovative applications, craftsmanship, and environmental respect.

Shop Adorno’s curated selection of Mono-Material Furniture

Related Articles


Subscribe and get 5% off
your first purchase