The international furniture fair in Milan is one of the biggest and most influential design events of the year. During the design week, the entire city explodes with exhibitions, making it a fantastic and dynamic place for observing coming trends.
This year the event was as big as ever, but the effect of the recession was obvious. We saw many of the big brands displaying reinventions or color updates of old classics. Some focused on history and heritage by displaying only iconic legacy designs. Quite often the exhibitions were atmospheric with still-life installations, being the focal point itself rather than the furniture and objects themselves. Many exhibitors were focused on telling a story about the experience of their brand and digital, sometimes interactive, installations were used to enhance these experience stories.
The idea of exhibiting production and innovation methods and processes as ideas in themselves rather than just finished products was also prolific; this was a theme we saw emerging last year and becoming stronger this year. It is clear that consumers and retailers are more aware and that a design needs to be so much more than the final product. Brands need to show that they are sensitive to our individuality and tell clear and compelling stories to us in order to succeed.
Over the years, Milan design week has evolved to become much more than just furniture fair. The consumer electronics and car industries are two growing categories which are now very present. This year many brands had taken a conceptual and experiential approach to their exhibitions.
BMW and the Bourollec brothers showed a moving installation called “Quiet Motion”. The installation conveyed the experience of motion while being inside an electric vehicle without exhibiting the actual car.
Samsung shared their design philosophy through an exhibition called “What a wonderful world”. Visitors controlled the digital environment they walked through to create their own version of a wonderful fantasy world.
A trend toward objects in movement appeared in different forms. Among other things we saw moving light reflections, digital installations and revolving walls. Last year we saw the conceptual and moving surface tension soap bubble lamp for Booo by Front. This year we saw everything from small conceptual exhibitions to giants, like Moroso, using moving elements in their shows.
Patricia Urquiola, the designer of the “Revolving Room” for Moroso + Kvadrat, described the exhibition concept as ‘creating a hypnotically, circular and repetitious rhythm’. Ripple by Poetic Lab + Studio Shikai is a rotating lamp creating moving reflections resembling water in motion.
Warm beige, terracotta, earth tones.
Chalky pastel, pink, blue and yellow combined with black, metal and muted tones. Translucency and soft finishes.
Iridescence, shifting color, rainbow, dark flopping effects.
Decorative padding and upholstery: geometric, organic, small and large.
Organic, flowing, curved planes.
Soft bent tubes, powder coated, visible constructions.