In Discussion with Merlino | Milan Furniture Fair, Mood Boarding & Current Interior Trends

In Partnership With: Merlino

Style Sourcebook Profile: Merlino

Have you ever wanted to step behind the scenes of a luxurious wholesale furniture company? Or maybe you want to discover what it’s like to be a Creative Director? Or, is the Milan Furniture Fair on your bucket list? If you said “yes!” to any and all of these questions, you’re in for a treat. We’re sitting down with Leah Merlino O’Brien from Merlino Furniture to chat about everything from their incredible brand story to how mood boarding fits into their day-to-day and the latest trends observed at the Milan Furniture Fair.

Hi Leah, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Merlino has so many gorgeous pieces, can you tell us your global sourcing process? 

At Merlino, we take pride in presenting a wide array of genuine, luxury furniture sourced from Europe's top-tier brands, emphasising Italian artistry. Alongside our European collection, we carefully select pieces from various global sources for our Merlino line. These selections echo our dedication to excellence and elegance, offering accessible options without sacrificing craftsmanship or design integrity.

Our dedication to quality and luxury is deeply rooted in our Italian heritage, as evidenced by our annual travel to Milan for the renowned Furniture Fair. In Milan, we immerse ourselves in the opulent showcases of exclusive luxury brands, drawing inspiration from on-trend exhibitions that serve as our compass for the upcoming year's design direction.

Our commitment extends beyond aesthetics. We recognise the importance of sustainability in today's world and strive to uphold this principle in our practices. We believe that true sustainability lies in creating furniture that transcends generations, both in terms of style and durability. We meticulously vet all our suppliers to ensure that they adhere to sustainable processes, thus guaranteeing that each piece in our collection is not only a testament to timeless beauty but also a conscientious choice for the future.

“My top priority is always leading with creativity, passion, and strategic vision to propel our brand forward and ensure our clients and customers have the most exceptional experiences possible, with their spaces perfectly adorned with our furniture.”

Leah Merlino O’Brien | Creative Director

Can you tell us a little bit about the brands at Merlino?

At Merlino, our mission is simple: to infuse our showroom with the essence of Italian elegance, and our handpicked selection of brands embodies just that ethos. As exclusive wholesale suppliers for some of Italy's leading names, such as Bonaldo, Alf Da Fre, and Natisa Srl, we're committed to delivering unparalleled craftsmanship and unique designs crafted by world-renowned designers. 

Now, let's talk about our Saporini Italian leather lounges. They're the definition of Italian luxury. Mixing classic style with modern design, each one is made right in Matera, Southern Italy. With over thirty years in the game, Saporini has turned furniture-making into an art form. It's like bringing a piece of Italy straight into your living room!

Our Merlino collection also keeps growing, offering contemporary pieces at a more accessible price point. We're all about making Italian design inclusive, without compromising on style or quality. And our Merlino pieces can be customised to fit your space perfectly.

Take us through your day as the Creative Director of Merlino. 

Being the Creative Director at Merlino is a whirlwind of excitement and variety! Whether I'm conducting showroom consultations with clients, reviewing furniture ranges, or jetting off to Milan to catch the latest trends, each day brings its own unique challenges and adventures. Balancing the demands of work and family life can be a bit of a juggle, but having the opportunity to work alongside my family makes it incredibly rewarding. My top priority is always leading with creativity, passion, and strategic vision to propel our brand forward and ensure our clients and customers have the most exceptional experiences possible, with their spaces perfectly adorned with our furniture.

Contemporary Dining Room mood board made on Style Sourcebook.

How does the Merlino team use mood boarding within their interior design process?

At Merlino, mood boarding is essential not only for our interior styling process but also for our clients, especially with our mood board tool on our site from Style Source. We use mood boards in so many different ways on a day-to-day basis, including:

Inspiration Curation: We gather inspiration from various places, including online platforms and travel, which is then transferred onto our mood boards in the form of relevant styles, palettes, and textures.
Theme Development: We distill ideas into cohesive themes, refining the desired look and feel for the space.
Visual Communication: Mood boards convey our design concepts effectively to clients, collaborators, and team members, creating discussions and feedback.
Material and Colour Exploration: Mood boards help us explore materials, finishes, and colour schemes in context, assessing their contribution to the desired atmosphere.
Client Collaboration: Clients are involved in the process and are able to reflect their preferences and vision.
Design Refinement: Mood boards serve as dynamic tools for iteration, allowing continuous updates and revisions based on feedback to align with project objectives.

What furniture trends have you noticed lately?

Upon returning from Milan for the Furniture Fair, I observed several trends:

  • Curvaceous designs will continue to dominate.
  • The 1970s are making a resurgence with bold shapes, colours, and slinky designs, such as overstuffed couches, rattan sets, and conversation pits.
  • Sustainable materials are a priority, with a focus on eco-friendly options like paper pulp.
  • Bold and vibrant colours are taking centre stage, injecting personality and energy into living spaces.
  • A resurgence of elegant and timeless materials like marble and ceramic.
  • Large-scale artwork is becoming a focal point in interior design, injecting personality into spaces.
  • Tone-on-tone palettes are being employed for subtle yet sophisticated contrasts.
  • Texture plays a significant role in enhancing the depth and tactile appeal of furnishings and decor elements.

Are there any other services you offer apart from supplying furniture? 

We provide comprehensive interior design consultancy services, collaborating with Interior Stylists to create spaces that reflect client’s individual tastes and functional requirements. Whether it's furniture for revitalising a vibrant café, orchestrating a complete hotel makeover, or crafting a standout piece for a residential property, our four-step process—Image, Plan, Create, Transform—ensures a seamless journey from concept to reality. Our approach integrates designers every step of the way, ensuring their involvement throughout the process.


Discover the full range of furniture from Merlino, or create your dream space using our mood board tool, which also features their extensive range of contemporary luxury pieces.