Highlights of Milan Design Week

International style pundits have highlighted prominent trends from Milan Design Week, which took place from April 17 – 22, featured more than 2,000 exhibitors and was attended by almost 345,000 visitors from 165 countries.



The annual event, which incorporates the Salone del Mobile trade show, is considered to be the premier international Launchpad for high octane design and gauge for future trends and brings the galleries and showrooms of Milan alive with artistic installations, glamorous parties and generally fabulous features.


It is here that titanic brands such as Kartell, Vitra, Knoll, Arper and Poltrona Frau command thousands of square feet of exhibition space and create spectacular backdrops for their unique furniture creations.  Lighting brand FLOS (left) was singled out by Aileen as being one of the “best of the bunch”, featuring a series of new product releases from designers such as Michael Anastassiades, Konstantin Grcic, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.


This edition of the event also marked the 20th anniversary of SaloneSatellite, in which more than 650 designers and 16 design schools took part, further celebrated by a special exhibition at the Fabbrica del Vapore.



The first prize in this year’s SalonSatellite Awards was given to Pistacchi Design, Taiwan (left), for the Comma Stool/Chair. Judges said the seat’s “functional and formal solution shows an interesting use of materials. It offers a new concept of urban interior design, with appealing and intuitive features”. Shaped like a modern sculpture made of contrasting materials, this public seat is “inherently inviting”.

Second prize was awarded to Edmond Wong Studio, P.R. China for the X Bench and third prize to Tanya Repina, Russia, for Ëo.

Artsy reporter Aileen Kwun found that ribbed glasswork which cast unusual compositions of shadow, light and color were seen to play a major role at Euroluce, the biannual lighting showcase presented within the Salone. This featured New York-based showroom Roll & Hill, which exhibited a new rectangular Kazimir pendant designed by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio and named after the Constructivist artist Kazimir Malevich.

Explaining the importance of lighting, Salone del Mobile said: To all extents and purposes light can be seen as the fourth dimension of architecture. Light is one of the most powerful tools that architects and interior designers have at their disposal. Lighting affects the wellbeing and quality of life of interiors both public and private and of the activities that take place within them. The new technologies have given a boost to the “vital” quality of light, particularly the LED technologies, which enable the spectrum and intensity of light sources to encourage the correct production of melatonin and, therefore, regulate the sleep/wake cycle.

As well as making lighting systems more sustainable in terms of energy consumption, these technologies are also making the symbiosis between light and the built space more coherent. LED light sources are focused less on “precision”, becoming more integrated and embedded into structural elements (walls, ceilings, floors) and furnishings, producing what is known as architectural light: diffused throughout the spaces rather than concentrated in individual “lighting points”.

Moving further round the show, the reporter soon discovered that bubbles, no less, were more than a little prominent in the salons of Milan and pinpointed this as one of the four hot trends she took away from the design festival.  From industrial scale Aero-inspired sculptures through to marbled graphics and bubble-infused wall coverings, this 3D version of the dot has been well and truly spotted and is a simple trend that can be picked up on by product designers.

Pictured right is a popular example of the airy ‘bubble’ theme, Calico Wallpaper’s ‘Microcosmos’ design.

The La Triennale di Milano museum set the scene for an exhibition by Lexus Design Award, where emerging designers were showcased alongside an installation by designer and architect Neri Oxman. Elsewhere, Atelier Swarovski Home, Studio Formafantasma, Caesarstone, Nude, Herman Miller, and Moroso, offered some of the most vibrant and eye-catching furniture, lighting, textiles, and other designer pieces. “Color is everywhere”, observed the reporter, “alongside a still-prevalent millennial pink”.

Another design-focused publication, Dezeen, also picked up on the overriding hotness of ‘millennial pink’, already extremely popular in fashion and now the most sought after colour in furniture design according to the standards set by Milan Design Week.

This muted shade which falls “somewhere between beige and blush” according to Dezeen, “somehow managed to become one of the most noticeable crazes” in an event where other design trends were not especially prominent. The trend is traceable to last year’s Pantone Colour of the Year, Rose Quartz and its colour matched stablemate, Pale Dogwood.

Brands such as Moroso, Muuto (right) and Normann Copenhagen all relied on the fashion-focused colour, which also formed the basis for Marc Ange’s Le Refuge (pictured above, centre), one of the most photographed installations of the entire week-long festival.  Note Design Studio also chose millennial pink for its main launch of the exhibition, an eye-popping sofa for Spanish brand Sancal.

Whilst pink dominated, “kalaidoscopic colour” of every hue and geometric designs were in evidence throughout Milan, reinforcing the current strength of this theme in stationery, gift and homeware.

Italian Bark magazine reported “everybody noticed that this Milan Design Week 2017 was all about color” and went on to do a round-up of likely 2018 home interiors colour trends, saying “the big trend is to go more and more towards bright and strong shades. This return to color goes together with a return to the Eighties and its strong design and colour.”

Alongside the ubiquitous millennial pink which also stood out at Maison et Objet, Italian Bark saw a comeback for primary colours and that warm, earthy tones had become brighter. Burgundy reds, violet and turquoise were all evident, along with plenty of green, but not so much the much hyped Pantone colour of the year for 2017, Greenery, but “more natural and vitaminic hues…new interesting shades of sage, celery and avocado greens”.


Meanwhile the Artsy reporter noticed a celebration of “iconic historical works, reminding us that the future isn’t so far from the recent past.” Legendary furniture company Cassina celebrated its 90th anniversary with a colourful retrospective of its most important legacy pieces, while concept shop, 10 Corso Como, displayed a collection of Pierre Cardin’s 1970’s, space-age designs of the 1970s as Les Sculptures Utilitaires.

Louis Vuitton presented Objets Nomades – a new collection of travel-inspired pieces –and the old was renewed throughout the city via ingenious recycling and upcycling methods as seen on Max Lamb’s “Really” range of seating for textiles specialist, Kvadrat. Hong Kong designer C. L. Lamb (right) presented the “Green Table,” tableware collection made from biodegradable waste such as lobster shells and tea grounds, for an unusual melamime effect.

Finally, from the Design Academy Eindhoven, that all-important bastion of super-cool Dutch design, camed #TVClerici, a live-edited broadcast mashup of digital, analog, and augmented reality.

The next edition of the Salone, along with the biennial Bathroom, Kitchen and FTK (Technology For the Kitchen) exhibitions, will be held from 17th to 22nd April 2018, in Milan.

Pictured top: Matteo Cibic’s anthropomorphic vases in millennial pink