The Milan Design Week has often been noted for its ability to churn up the old, and re-present it in a modern and relevant makeover. This year’s nostalgia was especially pronounced with lots of references to the 70s, and other bygone glory eras. While revisiting and reinventing the traditional and the historical for the present context was the most prominent trend, many other themes stood out for us among the 2000 exhibitors from 165 countries. Here are our forecasts for design in 2017.
Italian favorite Dimore went all in with their furniture this year, presenting a striking maximalist look that resounded throughout the exhibition in various other products and installations. The brand is known for being able to juxtapose empty spaces with a grand, grand piece that brings into the otherwise hollow space the full impact of the historical and cultural references that the furniture carries. With their newest 70s inspired feast of patterns and colours, the studio not only led the nostalgia that this year’s exhibition was soaked in, but also showed off a bold personality that doesn’t hesitate to play with uncomfortable patterns or overwhelming palettes. The company described themselves as rooted in tradition, and their exhibits at Milan used up this connection with the past, even as their pieces transcended the context of the past to evoke new and unfamiliar responses.
Asymmetry and Fluidity
2017 is the year of the bold, the subversive, and the unpredictable. While several of the art installations, especially New Spring (which featured bubbles) represented this best, it is clear that spontaneity and a self aware tryst with organic fluidity is where design is headed. Furniture giant Minotti moved on from masculine grays to focus more on earthy tones, Laurameroni made a soothing impression with terracotta colours like rust, dull gold and muddy palettes. British furniture brand Ercol featured asymmetrical legs on its signature classic steam bent sofas, embracing the curve.
Calico Wallpaper showed off their newest collaboration with designers Ana Kras, Faye Toogood, Snarkitecture and BCXSY with a nature inspired series called Microcosmos. The signature marbled wall art that Caclico is known for, received a twist featuring sweeping landscapes of bubbles.
British Designer Paul Cocksedge’s installation ‘Excavation: Eviction’ explored fluid forms and shapes.
If you thought retro glam was about being loud and obnoxious, well, take one look at one of Laurameroni’s entries this year- a glamorous, oversized off-white sofa with golden undertones and a velvety texture stands against the minimalist backdrop of a flat wall which features modest, repetitive patterns are floating wooden shelves. Again reflecting the nostalgia of this year’s designs, this installation re-invents 70s glam into an elegant decor aesthetic rich with cultural references.
Robert Cavalli’s Cosmopolitan Armchair is another favorite with us.
The focus on sustainability got (a long overdue) facelift with entries that were made entirely of waste organic material. Hong Kong based C L Lamb’s new line of tableware, Green Table, is made out of biodegradable waste and food scraps, like lobster shells. Max Lamb’s “Really” is a seating collection made for textile company Kvadrat, made from solid textiles boards. These boards are made from compressed selvedge waste and end-of-line cotton and wool.
Now, it’s really a well known fact that architects and interior designers are obsessed with creating lasting structures and spaces. As the complex layers of our deep connections with the natural world, and change is being revealed, it is becoming more and more obvious that thinking of permanence in the context of architecture is quite unrealistic and simply vain. Workstation 3.0, which is dedicated to innovations in workspace design, this year embodied the most prominent trend in the modern job economy- nomadic work schedules. Modern lifestyles redefine the office as a ‘permeable and dynamic habitat’ that serve as way more than just a desk to sit down at from 9-5. With the very concept of work shifting, and permeating into other areas of people’s lives, the exhibits in the section rise to the challenge. Bene’s new collection Pixel offers a series of multi-purpose furniture. Ostensibly, the collection looks like a bunch of well crafted crates, but these crates come together in various combinations and set ups to becomes benches, chairs, tables, and other functional furniture that are portable. This focus on impermanence, flexibility and customisation was reflected in the dizzying array of modular furniture presented this year. Ikea made a grand entrance with a collaboration with designer Tom Dixon.
Textures made a lasting impact, with many designers focussing on tactility to overcome the modern tactile deprivation instigated by our constant contact with smooth, flat digital surfaces. Salvatori presented a range of marbleware that rescues the material from the solid, indiscriminate clumps that it is usually used as into sculptural pieces fitted with metal, and crossed with textures.
The underlying ethos of Everything is Connected, an exhibition curated by Norwegian designer Katrin Greiling, is a pointed acknowledgement of the effect of culture context on design. An exhibition devoted to promising design talent in Norway, Everything is Connected shows how a designer participates in the economic and social networks of access of the country they live in, including the facts of production facilities, workshops, material access, personal networks, and logistics.
A nomad at heart, Faustina lives many lives through the spaces that she visits, and finds a temporary home in. Whether it’s the pages of a book or the tourist infested streets of Kodaikanal, or the swanky new Japanese restaurant in Delhi, or the frontlines of the queer movement, she finds compulsive pleasure in writing about what inspires her everyday.