For five days in April, the population of Milan, Italy, swelled by 20 percent, as over 270,000 people gathered from far and wide to see the offerings at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, aka the Milan Furniture Fair. Ensconced for the second year at the new fairgrounds—Fiera Milano at Rho, designed by Rome-based Massimiliano Fuksas—the show encompassed 24 football-field–sized halls under an undulating glass-and-steel canopy. Nearly 2,000 companies exhibited new furnishings and accessories in over 2.2 million square feet of space.

The new products featured the sleek lines and lush fabrics we have come to expect from modern European furniture, but another undeniable trend this year was the influence of nature. At every scale, images from land and sea were on display, be it in Edra's large lobby banquette that was formed by two sea stars on top of each other, with seats and armrests being defined by the various legs, or in nanimarquina's Little Field of Flowers area rug, which features freestanding small floral cutouts anchored to a mesh base. The organic was out in full force.

Also garnering a great deal of interest were the six out of 24 halls devoted to the Euroluce International Lighting Fair on display every two years, with this being the first year at the new fairgrounds. Attendance by both exhibiting companies and specifiers was markedly up, even after a record show in 2005. Euroluce showcases 463 manufacturers' new lighting fixtures, an increasing number of which are slated for application for UL listing, which would make them available in the United States. This year's exhibition focused on the relationship between man and light and featured lighting from all categories: indoor, outdoor, decorative, commercial, task, industrial, and theatrical, to name a few.

Not to be outdone, the historic city center of Milan served as a backdrop for a variety of lighting and art displays to celebrate the fair, from open houses at company showrooms, to outdoor parties and events, to weeklong lighting installations designed to catch the eye and intrigue the viewer to investigate new products and product options. On the following pages are just a few highlighted products on offer from companies at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile and Euroluce that should be making their way to the U.S. market in the coming months.