Sustainability, Circular Design, New Material Research, Patterns and Colors! These Are the Biggest Trends from Milan’s Salone del Mobile 2019.
This year’s edition of Milan Design Week – the biggest event in the design calendar – took place across the Italian city from 8 to 14 April. Hundreds of designers and brands from around the world showcased their work, at the Salone del Mobile furniture fair, the Euroluce lighting show and all over the city.
We curated all the latest novelties emerging from among the shows and present you our Trend Report of Milan Design Week with the forecast of the upcoming design trends in interiors and design.
01 / NEW SUSTAINABILITY & CIRCULAR DESIGN
An increasing awareness of environmental catastrophe and the urgency to prevent it, is inspiring designers to rethink the lifecycle of products.
The concept of Sustainability is currently undergoing a reflection in our society as more eco-conscious consumers are awakened to the necessity of creating ethical solutions for objects of daily use and cut excess.
Brands are playing a decisive role in this change by using their resources and influence to find innovative ways to create products that are as desirable and functional as they are eco-friendly.
Rather than simply recycling materials, companies are looking at how they can be more ‘Circular’.
Circular design deals with the reuse and repurposing of a material to bring it new life and new meaning. A successful circular design cycle works to leave no waste throughout the process of creation and use.
Waste No More by Eileen Fisher
Eileen Fisher’s Waste No More installation at Galleria Rossana Orlandi demonstrates its zero-waste initiative by repurposing used clothing into works of art. Further into the gallery are works by designers exploring the ideas of plastic guilt and how humans can give life to used plastic, utilizing the material in endlessly transformative ways.
On and On Chair by Barber & Osgerby
Barber & Osgerby and Emeco go green with a recycled, and infinitely recyclable, plastic chair. The ‘On and On’ is both a lightweight and stacking chair made from a higher percentage of recycled bottles.
Emeco has spent the last 20 years working with recycled materials. It invested four years into developing a material with Coca-Cola, made out of fiberglass mixed with the brand’s discarded PET bottles. A chair was launched in 2010 as a result of the collaboration, but Buchbinder and his team have continued to work on the material, refining its consistency and making it stronger and greener. ‘It’s been a super challenging material to work with,’ says Buchbinder. ‘However, we learnt a lot from our mistakes and, over the course of almost a decade, managed to engineer it so that it can be continually recycled – we can now make new chairs from old chairs.’
02 / MATERIAL INNOVATION
While sustainability initiatives are increasingly popular and important for companies around the world, long-term commercial success relies on deriving economic as well as environmental value from new approaches. A creative and scientific approach in material science is under way as designers rethink materials, fusing them with dynamic new functionality and seeking to minimize environmental harm.
ExCinere by Formfantasma with Dzek
formafantasma presented a new architectural material with vast applications. In collaboration with Dzek they designed ExCinere, a refined collection of volcanic ash-glazed tiles made for both interior and exterior surfaces.
The designers explored the volcanic lava as a building material, proposing a unique and innovative use for it. The collection also highlights the connection between humans and powerful forces of nature such as volcanos.
“Although Volcanic ash and basalt rock may appear inert, their high metal oxide content makes them complex and unpredictable to work with,” the press materials reveal.
after three years of exploding and imploding the research materials, the designers achieved the “careful balance of porcelain body, ash glazes, firing temperature and method was achieved.” The colors were “achieved by mixing varying quantities, particle sizes and densities of volcanic matter, resulting in surfaces that are evocative of the dynamic landscape from which they come.”
A.I. Chair by Philippe Starck, Kartell and Autodesk
Philippe Starck, Kartell and Autodesk unveil the A.I. chair, the first chair in production created by artificial intelligence in collaboration with human beings.
Starck used Autodesk’s prototype software to create a strong, stable chair using minimal material, via a process that he described as “a lot like having a conversation”. “Kartell, Autodesk and I asked the artificial intelligence a question: do you know how we can rest our bodies using the least amount of material?” Starck said. Through inputs by Starck, the software went through a process of learning in order to create a chair that was comfortable, structurally sound, and adhered to both Kartell and Starck’s aesthetic preferences.
The chair is produced via injection moulding, a manufacturing technique that the software was taught about so it would take the constraints of the process into account when coming up with the design. Autodesk believes that advances in artificial intelligence and generative design tools will improve the work of designers.
03 / GLOBAL NOMADS
As people increasingly try to reduce their impact on the environment, off-grid living has become more popular than ever.
This year’s Salone del Mobile exhibitions are a contemporary manifesto for the modern nomad, because the spaces of the modern nomad are dictated by movement. This is what explains the objects presented distinguished most of all for their modular, transformable, and transportable nature.
Objets Nomads by Louis Vuitton
Since its creation in 2012, the Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades collection has invited renowned designers to imagine creative, functional and innovative furniture and objects. Each object is an encounter between a designer and Louis Vuitton’s creative artisans, a mixing of their different savoir- faires in an imaginative interpretation of the idea of travel.
Casa Ojalá by Beatrice Bonzanigo
Casa Ojalá is a prototype of a mobile home designed by Italian architect Beatrice Bonzanigo. The patented design is for a self-sufficient home that can be assembled in any location, in up to 20 different layouts.
04 / RETAIL EXPERIENCES
Brands are aware that consumers are increasingly valuing experiences rather than objects and changing their spending habits accordingly.
To gain customers attention back into stores, they’re adapting to offer 360-degree shoppable brand experiences.
Believing a relaxed customer is more likely to make a purchase, retailers are on a continual quest to make customers feel at home in their stores. Brands want customers to discover a different way of shopping, aiming to create an environment which is as close as possible to their homes.
The Manzoni by Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon caused a stir this year with the news that he would be setting down permanent roots in Milan, in the form of restaurant and showroom The Manzoni, allowing his brand to “forget being temporary and build something permanent” in the city.
Located at 5 Via Manzoni, close to Milan’s La Scala opera house, the venue will be fitted out with products designed by the Tom Dixon brand, including three ranges that will launch during design week: a series of upholstered chairs called Fat, the Spring series of pendant lamps, and Opal translucent globe lights.
Combining a showroom with a restaurant will create a more engaging environment for shoppers, said Dixon, who believes there’s “nothing dustier than a conventional lighting and furniture showroom”.
“Just like in London, we don’t think it’s enough to just have a showroom,” Dixon said.
Bar Baas by Maarten Baas
Dutch designer Maarten Baas has teamed up with furniture brand Lensvelt to transform their favourite restaurant into a bar, called Bar Baas, an irreverent take on the popular Milan drinking hole Bar Basso. Furnishings will include the pair’s latest collaboration, the Maarten Baas 101 chairs and stools. A limited edition of 100 pieces of the Maarten Baas 101 Chair, will be executed with a remarkable pink frame and pink upholstery, matching the colors of Ristorante Pizzeria Dinky. Lensvelt and Baas produced the Dinky Edition especially for the restaurant.
05 / WELLNESS INTERIORS
The trend for furniture that can improve your health, whether at home or at the office, looks likely to continue in Milan this year. The latest interior design philosophy is not about how a furniture piece makes your apartment look, but how it makes you feel.
Interiors innovators are designing furniture, interiors, and branded real estate focused on wellness with features and technologies that will enhance both the physical and emotional wellbeing of the homeowner.
Space for Being by Google
Google has teamed up with brain scientists to create an installation that looks at how different aesthetic experiences can impact human biology and wellbeing. Called A Space for Being, it will allow visitors to record their physiological responses to different environments.
With varying lighting, sounds, scents and textures, the rooms are intended to stimulate visitors’ senses in different ways. The aim is to show how good design can have a positive or negative impact of mental wellbeing.
Guests are given a custom-made wearable band and sent off to traverse and experience three rooms, sitting on the furniture, breathing in their scents. Meanwhile, the band measures their physical response, such as their heart rate and skin temperature. As the experience comes to an end, visitors receive a personalized analysis elucidating which room made them feel calm and at ease.
Bodies in Motion by Humanscale
Ergonomic design company Humanscale analyzes the structure of the human body to create health-conscious furniture that eases tension during long office hours. For this year’s Milan Design Week the company invited collaborator Todd Bracher to design an interactive installation that would speak to how our bodies operate in space. The piece, appropriately titled Bodies in Motion, mirrors the movements of its guests with 15 spotlights that swirl in tandem with users’ limbs.
06 / BIOPHILIA
Plants are certainly not a new interior design trend, but they are becoming more of a feature than ever before, as people realise the health benefits they offer.
The World Health Organization expects stress related illness to be the two largest contributors to disease by 2020. With a diminished connection to nature, the increasing pressure on urban space & the technological presence we have less opportunity to recuperate our mental and physical energy.
Biophilic design is a way of innovatively designing and incorporating the natural world into the places we live, work and learn.
Businesses at the vanguard of workplace design such as Apple, Google and Amazon are investing heavily in Biophilic Design elements. These principles are shown to improve worker concentration, engagement and cognitive ability.
Jil Sander Exhibition
The biggest example of this in Milan will be found in the headquarters of fashion brand Jil Sander, where Australian landscape artist Linda Tegg will create a living installation of wild plants, similar to the one she presented in Venice last year.
when the exhibition is said and done, some of the plants will return to where they were harvested. others will be reformed into a permanent piece to be nurtured as a living entity within jil sanders studios. ‘the plants will stay with us. Environmental issues seem, and need to be, more and more well rooted, rather than a trend,’ says lucie and luke meier. ‘we need to be ready to behave in different ways, even uncomfortable and inconvenient, to make a change. we need to find a way to coexist well with nature. the permanent installation of spontaneous plants will be a constant reminder, a catalyst for our awareness.’
Poltrona Frau showroom
Michele De Lucchi designed the showroom of Italian furniture brand Poltrona Frau for Milan Design Week. The architect and artist transformed the showroom into an “Earth Station”.
Named ‘Connecting Experiences’ the showroom works as an installation that comprises a series of spaces that encourage visitors to engage with a selection of Poltrona Frau products by working, relaxing and learning together.
07 / TACTILE & SENSORY SURFACES
The more we are in contact with plain cold screens, the more we will crave for haptic experiences with surfaces that are soft, raw, porous, and stimulate our senses when in touch.
We’re losing touch with touch. We’re desperately short on the textures, warmth, and imperfections that come from engaging with things in the tangible world — handcrafts, textiles, building materials, and each other.
Nilufar Depot and StudioPepe among others, are displaying raw, handcrafted sculptures and design objects consisting of materials like wood, ceramic, travertine, and marble.
Les Arcanistes by StudioPepe
In an abandoned factory, once used for manufacturing gold and metals, Studiopepe stages the ancestral relationship of man with matter.
The installation Les Arcanistes – The Future is Un/ Written, conceived in a former industrial space that processed metals, translates into a sequence of rooms that lead visitors along a gradual approach to the world of the arcana.
The installation encourages a direct relationship with the primal elements of the physical world – water, plants, materials and minerals. New design pieces conceived this year, bespoke and re-editions of historic pieces support the itinerary while analysing the relationship between matter, archetypes and symbols.
Nilufar Depot Exhibition
As part of Milan design week 2019, the milanese Nilufar Gallery has launched itself into a galaxy of emergent designers.
Projects converge that share an obsession with membranes, films, coatings and epidermises, or with forms developed through processes of almost geological stratification and layering. Pieces communicate in a direct, visceral way, interrogating our understanding of contemporary living and prompting discussions about the future: what does a chair look like? how is it made? what other functions does it have?
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