Colours, lots of colours and jungle were the dominant themes of this year’s Milan Design Week! For a design addict like me Milan Design Week is the most anticipated design event of the year and it never disappoints. However, this year’s buzz was almost intoxicating and as if high on adrenaline made me walk a whopping 57 km in 6 days!
Speaking of 57, this year was actually the 57th edition of the “Salone del Mobile”. The fair has continuously grown in size, importance and numbers and experienced a record breaking year this year with nearly half a million visitors (26 % more than Milan Design Week 2017) from 188 countries (compared to 165 last year). The trade fair takes place at the exhibition center “Fiera Rho” and consists of various sections: The “Salone del Mobile” (furniture), which is the original and how it all started nearly 6 decades ago, “Eurocucina” (kitchens) and “Salone del Bagno” (bathrooms), which alternate with “Euroluce” (lighting) and “Workplace3.0” (office design). This year it was kitchens and bathrooms.
However, what makes Milan Design Week so unique and special is the so-called “Fuorisalone”, which literally translates to ‘outside of the fair’. It all started in the Brera district, a very posh neighbourhood and home to some of the most exclusive luxury brands. Over the years it has grown in size and spread to many other neighbourhoods, making it literally impossible to see it all. Whilst the “Fuorisalone” used to be something known to insiders only, it has now become a destination in its own right attracting more than just design professionals. For a more detailed overview of the different areas to visit, check out my video of Milan Design Week 2015 or my blog post of Milan Design Week 2017.
Milan is known for setting trends in fashion and design and the many squares, countless historic Palazzi as well as the industrial areas of the city create a truly magical backdrop for a design event of that scale. There are more than 1300 special events, design installations and parties taking place in showrooms, public areas, public buildings, design studios and even in private homes and residences. During Milan Design Week you often gain access to some of the most stunning buildings that are usually closed off to the public.
Colours and trends
This year’s Milan Design Week was all about colours and jungle! The trendiest colours this year are shades of green, rusty orange, shades of pink, peach and bordeaux and my personal favourite, shades of turquoise.
Colours can be found in furniture, fabrics, wallpapers and accessories, sometimes even bathrooms and kitchens.
At the same time everything jungle is huge this year, in particular wallpapers and fabrics together with lots of houseplants. Personally, I am very happy about this trend, because having lived in the Caribbean for many years I absolutely love all things tropical and in fact I already have a bit of a tropical forest in my own apartment in Zurich.
Marble continues to be very popular and whilst last year it was mostly white marble, this year’s must-have is black marble, sometimes with beautiful orange graining. The popularity of velvet continues to grow and this elegant fabric is now available in all colours of the rainbow, as well as in many different qualities.
Not only jungle themed patterns, but also floral, ethnic and geometric patterns can be found in fabrics, wallpaper and even some rather daring kitchen and furniture design!
In the world of kitchen design I would say that “black is the new white”. I have never seen so many dark kitchens. Black and dark wood were the most common, sometimes in combination with another material in a lighter colour. Whilst I am not a huge fan of entirely black kitchens I loved those combining black stone or marble with solid wood.
On the other hand kitchen design has integrated lots of elements from professional restaurant kitchens and has thus become much more functional. At the same time, with modern architecture’s continuous trend towards open plan kitchens, kitchen designers have created the so-called ‘hidden kitchen’, where you can literally hide away everything with folding and sliding doors as well sliding countertops that also serve as dining tables when pulled out.
Modular bathroom cabinets using a combination of materials, such as wood, marble, steel, glass and laminate continue to be popular. Sanitary fittings come in a variety of colours and materials, but the trend is going towards black, bronze, brass and copper fittings.
There’s once again an attempt to introduce coloured sanitary ware – especially for sinks – but personally I still prefer adding colour in a different and less ‘permanent’ way.
Why I consider Milan Design Week the most important trade fair
As an interior designer it is crucial to stay up to date with the latest trends and innovations. This is in fact one of the many aspects that I love about my profession as an interior designer. The Interior Design industry is always changing and evolving and there is always more to discover and more to learn. Modern technology has a huge impact on the design industry with respect to new manufacturing methods, new and improved materials, advanced technology in bathroom and kitchen design and of course also home automation. Also the lighting industry is continuously and rapidly changing with LED offering unlimited possibilities.
I try to visit several trade shows a year in London, Paris and Zurich, but to me Milan Design Week remains the most important one. Even though it has become so big that it is impossible to see it all (despite all the walking) it’s the one that truly gives you an overview of what’s happening in the world of design. At Milan Design Week I learn about new trends and innovations and get lots of inspiration for current and future projects. I learn about what’s available, so I can then choose the best solutions and products for my clients depending on their requirements and budget. At the same time I build relationships with manufacturers and suppliers and discover new ones. At the Fuorisalone in Milan in particular I often come across very small up and coming design studios. This then allows me to source very unique items for my clients and my design projects.
Needless to say, I am bursting with ideas and can’t wait to implement them into my current and future projects! So if you’ve been contemplating about re-designing or upgrading your home, then please get in touch 😉
Photography: Simone Aïda Baur