An innovative online concept store, e-side was launched by Alessia Civettini in November 2010. The focus is on eco and sustainable designer furniture, gifts and lifestyle products of the finest quality. Alessia is shaking up the general image of eco-design, commonly deemed as staid, utilitarian and hippy. She visited the last edition of Milan Furniture Fair; she shares her impressions and finds with Pirouette.

Alessia, tell us a bit more about you…

I grew up in a town in Northern Italy called Brescia near the amazing Garda Lake. I studied at university in the historical town of Verona and it was from here that I decided to move to France, where I first started my career in the fashion industry.

My specific interest in natural materials came from my particular involvement in organic apparel, which soon led me to explore how this was applied within everyday household objects and furnishings. This evolved quickly into a passion that eventually led me to set up a business that is completely and utterly devoted to this.

My work brought me to the UK at a later stage, and this has been my home for 8 years now.

How would you describe il Salone del Mobile in a few words?

Salone del Mobile is the place to be for any interior design addict, professional or otherwise. It’s a truly vibrant, bustling, international affair and the beauty of it is that the whole town comes alive. Everyone gets involved with lots of different events in the streets, and it’s welcome to all.

 What area do you visit when you go? What’s your favourite?

I specifically keep my eye out on exciting and emerging talents, so I visit all the events around Zona Tortona, Brera District, Lambrate-Ventura and Cascina Cuccagna.

E-Side is more about celebrating young designers rather than focusing on big and established brands. We like to discover new talent and, as a business, we are very supportive of them. E-Side has become almost an extended platform for new designers to showcase and sell their work.

My favourite location this year was Brera Districts. The elegant and culturally rich streets – the very heart of classical art and crafts – unearthed some great surprises in terms of interesting and innovative designs.

What did you particularly like this season?

I loved the Chinese exhibition “From Yuhang” showing chairs and lamps made out of paper and soft pastel colours (although I personally generally prefer strong block colours!).

I was also particularly impressed by a design collective from Madrid (which is a shop as well as a coffee bar) called

What products have you selected for e-side? 

Contrary to other trade fairs, Il Salone del Mobile is not a place where you typically seek out designs and then place your order. Rather, it’s an opportunity to identify design trends and scope out what other designers and brands are showcasing, viewing some interesting prototypes and looking at new projects.

It’s a very enriching experience, quite different from other trade fairs, and you come away after a visit feeling very inspired, and also more knowledgeable about where current design trends are generally heading.

Having said that, I did see a couple of products I might add to our collection but I haven’t decided on this yet.

What are your favourite finds for children?

I loved Estúdio Baobá ( Brazil, who showcased the Boró Car and Tereco Toy Car (see pictures). These are two quite traditional toys rehashed and modified for modern play. Its use of bright colours and tactile materials, like wood and rubber, work really well together to stimulate young minds and enhance sensory experiences as children interact with the toys.

Are you a mother yourself?

Yes, my son Matteo is nearly 4 years old. I have just got rid of the cot bed and changer and started working on the interior for his room. He asked for a yellow bed, and I am lucky because I love yellow and bright colours in general, as you might see from some of the products in our store!