Design thinking

Milan Design Week 2018

Bryce Booth & Yui Komatsu

This spring, we ventured to Salone del Mobile Milan, also known as Milan Design Week. The world’s largest design fair showcases furniture and products from today’s brightest brands, designers and innovators. This year’s show occupied nearly 2.5 million square feet of space and included 2,500 companies, along with 350,000 attendees from more than 150 countries.

Throughout the week, we compiled the various trends and themes presented within exhibits spread across the city. The next few paragraphs include our observations and outline what’s on the horizon for this year and beyond. We hope this virtual journey leaves you just as inspired as we are. Enjoy!

Perspective play

Many exhibits explored playing with perspective, evident through the use of material dividers, extreme lighting effects and mirrored surfaces creating a “selfie-friendly” space.

The design world is undergoing a transformation toward experience. As a result, designers intentionally puzzled us with unexpected aesthetics.


Evoking the Five Senses

The Lexus space contained lights, illuminated objects and complementary sounds. A table filled with handmade lollipops brought in the element of taste, which accompanied a series of unique scents being released throughout.

Our current culture craves connection through unique experiences that create memories across all five senses. More and more, brands are leveraging senses beyond touch and sight to build memorable brand experiences.




Modularity continues to trend upward as people increasingly demand customizable solutions and companies seek portfolios with strong economies of scale.

Modular solutions were seen across furniture, but were especially prevalent in lighting as designers played with varying combinations, sizes and complexities.

Flos with Sarfatti

Softened Tech

Brands are making tech more tactile. We saw the convergence of traditional manufacturing and digital technology in more digestible forms. Brands are drawing users into their world by creating an ideal environment that humanizes their products and showcases their skills. The flexible sheet is bent flexibly, dry and hard tile turned soft and moist, the house air filter is formed into sculptural art. Making the impossible possible.



Experiment X

Design allows us to challenge tradition. Once again, reinvention
was prevalent throughout Milan – spanning fashion, tech and

Designers were more keen than ever to showcase their process
to perfection as they exhibited unconstrained creativity.
They designed provocative and joyful installations, adding additional
layers of thought-provoking complexity onto otherwise modern
minimal design.

Fondazione Prada

Sustainability en Vogue

Sustainable design was at the forefront of many exhibits in Milan. Designers tackled pollution, recyclability and air purification with creative and aesthetically driven solutions. Sculptural air filters, architectural pollution absorbers, sustainable living solutions and recycled plastic furniture were all the rage.


Maximal vs Minimal

Last year, Milan was chock full of maximalist design. This year, minimalism faced a minimalist revival. Making things even more complicated, otherwise minimal brands like Hay showed off their relatively minimal furniture in a maximal way, covering simple tables with countless items stacked on top of one another.