For the past five years that I’ve attended the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, I’ve made a habit of beelining straight to the MIO booth primarily because, well, I pretty much know what to expect (or desire, rather): “Beautiful, Affordable, Sustainable” home furnishings and accessories from a Philadelphia-based design firm and consultancy where a serious — even methodical — emphasis is placed on the use of recycled/recyclable materials and local manufacturing.
The Colombia-born brothers behind MIO, Jaime and Isaac Salm, revolve their business around a naturally occurring phenomenon that they refer to as “Green Desire.” This founding principle, explained: "Green Desire occurs when consumers actually crave products that are sustainable and responsible. This natural demand could ultimately drive the cultural shift necessary to align consumer desires with what is good for the environment."
For their ICFF 2013 showing, the Salm brothers have taken a slightly more understated route than in past years when new offerings included a gussied up retooling of their signature Naked modular cabinetry line (2012) and a series of baroque tack boards made from pre-consumer recycled cork (2011). This year's edition of ICFF was also a big one for MIO as it marked a decade of "Green Design for Everyone" for the 10-year-old firm, a firm that was doing green design and doing it right long before sustainability became a buzzword.
Front and center among this year's new releases was a dramatic and hyper-versatile addition to the MIO lighting collection dubbed the Shade Lamp, described thusly:
Shade Lamps are over-sized modular lampshades that can be arranged in over 36 different configurations, including as pendant, floor and table lamps. The configurations range in size from two feet to four feet tall. A single Shade Lamp makes for a great table centerpiece, while double shades can fill out large areas with beautiful diffused light. The lampshades are made of a durable paper and the connectors and legs are powder-coated steel. The lamps textile covered cords are available in white, silver and orange matching the powder-coated components of the lamp.
Although Shade Lamps — and a new M.C. Escher-inspired Paperform 3D wallpaper tile made from post-consumer recycled waste paper dubbed Cube — visually dominated the MIO booth at ICFF, I was perhaps most drawn to a new take on an older MIO design: the Sling Stool. The versatile indoor/outdoor seat now comes with a reversible seat pad made from water-repellent cotton canvas that can be easily removed for “washing, replacement, and recycling.” Customization is key here as the domestically manufactured seat pads come in a range of two-tone color combinations and the recycled steel frame itself is available in red, gray or black.
Good stuff all around and, as expected, I walked away with an overwhelming sense of “Green Desire" (and a lovely new Pensprout).
Shade Lamps (starting at $175), Sling Stools ($250), and Pensprouts ($3) along with Cube PaperForm modular wall tiles ($54 for a 12-pack) are all available for pre-order via the MIO website.