10 Design Trends Spotted During Milan Design Week
1/10 Style: Retro Moods
A sense of nostalgia was palpable at the 58th edition of the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan. Rounded forms, velvet upholstery and the exuberant use of jewel tones added to the retro feel of the collections. “We’ll see a lot of curves this year and a lot of nostalgic accents,” observes Jean Wee, COO of Marquis Furniture Gallery. “There is a lot of multi-functional furniture; such as tables that can be used for all different corners of the sofa.”
Italian brands such as Lema, Meridiani, Minotti and Zanotta incorporated the Mid-Century Modern palette with streamlined pieces in rich tones of emerald, violet, royal blue, terracotta and mustard.
2/10 Colour: Seeing Red
The crimson hue took the interior world by storm this year. The most popular application of the colour: the use of burgundy upholstery fabrics, which turned minimalist seats into statement pieces. A brighter, fiery tone was also applied onto accent pieces such as side tables and stools; an easy way to bring a touch of this trend into your home.
3/10 Shape: The Bauhaus Effect
With the centenary celebrations of the Bauhaus movement in full swing this year, it’s easy to see why this school of thought continues to be hugely influential. Its functionalist approach has inspired the light, minimalist silhouettes of several collections on show, with pieces distilled to pure forms. These geometric shapes have also been incorporated into patterns used on upholstery fabrics, rugs, decorative vases and other objets d’art.
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4/10 Material: Fashionable Twist
Upholstery textiles can instantly change the look of your furniture; a detail that’s much evident at Salone del Mobile. “In Milan recently, furniture is having a fashion moment with more frills, bold patterns; wall panelling is really bold,” says Jennifer Murray, creative director of The I.D. Dept. “There’s a lot more play with textures and bolder colours.” Chairs and sofas were dressed in a plethora of fabrics that took cues from the fashion runways: these include the use of boucle, tweed, horsehair and animal prints on stylish seats spotted throughout the fair.
5/10 Style: Outdoors In
With the blurring of boundaries between indoors and out, it seemed only natural that outdoor furnishings should complement the design scheme within. Flexform debuted its first outdoor collection at the fair; top picks include the Vulcano seating system designed by Antonio Citterio. Citterio also created the Ribes outdoor collection for B&B Italia, which features sofas, armchairs and daybeds in a variety of shapes and sizes; the stripe upholstery fabric adds to its relaxed look.
Minotti also continued to grow its outdoor selection, which has been designed to be used for luxury yachts and hotels as well as in residential settings. New pieces include tables, seats and accessories added to the Quadrado modular system by Marcio Kogan of Studio mk27. First launched in 2018, the system is distinguished by its teak duckboard design; a feature that draws influence from the boating world.
6/10 Finish: Raw Textures
The juxtaposition between man-made features and natural elements continue to intrigue; this is manifested in the popularity of rugged surfaces on furniture which add a tactile touch to each design.
Technological advancements have also created the ability to replicate the qualities of natural materials; pieces made with ceramic and engineered wood feature unconventional shapes and concrete-like finishes. This can be seen in myriad collections showcased at the fair, including the Nativ range authored by Raphael Navot for Roche Bobois. The Primordial bookcase (seen above) is a key example of the collection’s preoccupation with organic shapes and hand-carved details; its oblong, sculptural form is made of moulded polyurethane with a rock-like finish.
7/10 Material: Plastic Fantastic
The eco-conscious use of plastics continues as furniture makers and designers respond to climate change while minimising wastage. These include the Emeco On and On collection by Barber Osgerby; 70 per cent of each seat is made of recycled PET bottles while the other 30 per cent comprises of non-toxic pigment and glass.
Another eco-conscious highlight is the Kartell A.I. chair. French architect Philippe Starck worked with software company Autodesk to create a chair designed by artificial intelligence—the machine was instructed to design a durable chair that uses as little material as possible, while employing creative thinking and design input from both Starck and Kartell.
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8/10 Material: Precious Things
Marble has long been the preferred choice for luxurious table tops, with varieties such as the Calacatta marble and Statuario marble being perennial favourites. This year, brands such as Visionnaire incorporated a wide range of natural stone in its collections; a design detail that draws influence from the glamorous shine of jewellery pieces. These include the use of onyx, applied on the Kylo dining table as well as decorative lighting pieces such as the Moon-eye lamp.
9/10 Form: New Division
Spaces and furniture are becoming more multifunctional to adapt to the limited square footage in urban homes. In response to this, furniture manufacturers have created ingenious, space-optimising solutions that are mindful of these limitations while utilising their unique expertise. These include the Gliss master wardrobe system designed by Vincent Van Duysen for Molteni&C, which now features the Sistema 7 opening mechanism; a patented system comprising horizontally folding doors that can be moved to the side of each compartment. These doors enable the wardrobe system to function as a partition between spaces; it can also be used as a self-enclosed unit within a master bedroom.
Manufacturers such as Boffi also showcased new interior solutions, in the form of partition doors and wall systems that improve spatial flow within modern homes. The Quadra collection created by Massimo Luca for ADL—a manufacturer that’s part of the Boffi Group—features pivoting or sliding doors in extruded aluminum alloy with a central tempered glass frame; these can function as doors or moveable walls.
For smaller spaces, the Arflex Vela screen is a top pick, now available in more shapes and colourways.
10/10 Material: Wood Works
In response to the human desire to reconnect with nature, designers have increasingly incorporated natural materials such as wood in interior furnishings. The new collections presented during Milan Design Week were no exception. These inventive designs feature geometric detailing and slim profiles that also highlight the beauty of the unique grain pattern found on each piece.
Conscious of the limitations of our natural resources, furniture manufacturers have also harnessed modern techniques to minimise material wastage. These include the Kartell Smart Wood collection, which features new pieces such as the Kingwood armchair and ottoman. It pairs a plywood frame in ash or striped rosewood; the seat can be upholstered in fabric or leather.
The 58th edition of Salone del Mobile Milano and the Fuorisalone satellite events were held from 9-14 April during Milan Design Week; visit salonemilano.it for more information.
See also: Furniture Pieces By Virgil Abloh On Show In Venice During The City's Art Biennale