For interiors and product designers, there is no better place to unveil their latest collections than at Salone del Mobile, the Milanese highlight for the global design community. Every year, the Italian capital plays host to the biggest, boldest, even brashest names in design as it sets the charter for the latest design trends. This year was no exception.
Dubai-based interior designer Pallavi Dean was there, soaking in a power-packed roster of designers of note and fabulous things to see. Here she presents her pick of top ten trends we are going to see a lot in the coming years.
Very often, the most chic of homes lose their cool quotient the minute kids come into the picture. The young family’s needs were central to this year’s edition as many designers presented slick new ways of incorporating kid’s furniture into an adult environment. From haute high chairs to smartly concealed toys storage, Marcel Wanders presented the whimsical Parents Collection in collaboration with child mobility brand Cybex, while Kartell’s multi-designer acrylic products – aimed specifically at a younger audience – offered smart options to typically kitsch kids products.
Marriage of materials
The juxtaposition of materials and textures is a timeless trend. This year in particular, there were several pieces that played off nature with synthetic, angular with organic and harsh with smooth. The end result is an intersection that appeals to both sides of our brain.
The Italian brand Alcarol stayed ahead of the curve, employing experimental processes to preserve the raw material exactly as it appear in its original habitat, giving it a new life before it goes to waste. Their Fungi Console was the star of their presentation and indeed this trend. Made of a single wood plank obtained from an abandoned beech log with its native populations of fungi intact, the plank was cut into two parts with a very thin blade and then joined such that the fungal woodgrain matched perfectly like a single bent piece. Then, through a special process, a resin was integrated into the gap to create a singular piece without any distinctions between horizontal and vertical resin edges.
Ode of Craftsmanship
In a world that is fast being populated by 3D printing and robotics, handmade pieces and traditional techniques were a breath of fresh air. Traditional techniques like leather upholstery and weaving took centre stage at this year’s fair. By using the limitless weft and warp potentials of new materials, Nodo, from the Cassano d’Adda region in the eastern parts of Italy is giving a fresh new look and feel to classical furniture. A brilliant reinterpretation of a timeless tradition.
The best way to bring colour, and light into our interiors is an investment into some of the stunning iridescent pieces on show in Milan. From big furniture brands like Glas Italia to the Amsterdam based industrial designer Elise Luttik who is well known for her explorations into 3D printing and acrylic forms, creating colour and light prisms through use of modern materials and angular geometries was a huge trend. Furniture kaleidoscopes that interact with space can add the perfect futuristic accent; put them against a stark white or black wall and let the magic unfold.
We live in a world where multi-tasking is a given – why should our furniture be any different? Singular design pieces that integrate a diverse range of functions – think coat hangers that double as light pieces or lamps that come with USB charging portals – are responding to modern day living.
It was easy to spot the heavy graphic influence in this year’s collections as strong geometric shapes informed fabrics, materials, object designs and even 3D printed furniture. The lines between graphic design, interiors and furniture design were indeed blurred. This year’s show was a full throttle celebration of three-dimensional pattern play that is bound to inform our interior choices in the years to come. In collaboration with Moooi, Sacha Walckhoff, creative director at Maison Christian Lacroix presented a new collection of carpets inspired from the fashion house’s use of bright floral prints and hypnotising patterns to inject a touch of graphic glamour to the piece.
Engaging the senses
What is design’s greatest calling if not eliciting an emotional response from those who experience it. From large scale public installations like COS and Japanese super architect Sou Fujimoto’s collaboration, Forest of light that engages you holistically, to furniture that appeals to all our senses, haptic design was a consistent theme seen through the fair and temporary installations. The result? Tactile and visually stimulating works that go beyond basic function and appeal to the onlooker at a very humane level.
A fresh take on classic material and shapes that are reminiscent of a bygone era has been a trend that refuses to budge. Each year designers find new aspects of the past to bring to light, adding new layers to this beloved trend. This was prominent at flagship stores such as Baxter and also at the Salone Satellite which focusses on up-and-coming designers. Beijing-based designer Frank Cho’s modern take on art deco and traditional Chinese forms was a huge hit. But the prize for this year’s most loved take on retro goes to the British posterchild of handicrafts revival, Lee Broom. Broom presented the Optic Lights – stunning in the round – in a travelling installation of a van as his automobile with bespoke period interiors whizzed through the streets of Milan.
Zaha Hadid may be gone but she will never be forgotten. Brands that had the good fortune of collaborating with Hadid celebrated the loss of an icon with presentations of her new works that brought to the fore her undying love for the future. Much like Hadid’s architecture, her product design philosophy also centred on sculptural and emotive forms – a prime example was the new bookshelf design that Citco unveiled at the show.
Nadja Swarovski marked the opening of the Atelier Swarovski Home boutique with a stunning crystal and metal centrepiece by the late designer. In her life, Hadid birthed iconic buildings and design pieces that were sculptural, one of a kind, controversial even. In her death, her works are now collectors’ pieces.
In today’s very urban and connected environment, occasionally we all need a place to hide. Be it for the outdoors or an office environment, designers focus on our need to disconnect and find haven, even for a few minutes. Cue furniture pieces that are a direct result of this human craving for solitude. Hooded tops, high backs, enclosed sides – cocoon like designs promise a warm embrace.
- Pratyush Sarup is design manager at one of the UAE’s premium interiors firms.