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June 24, 2024

Top trends at Milan Design Week

Schenelle Dsouza 
The Milan Design Week is one of the most momentous events that takes place for the design and décor world every spring in April. It was held after a good two years in April in Milan, and lakhs of visitors thronged the town to display their designs, meet buyers and distributors, or to take style notes home for a week or so. 
Photo Courtesy: HOMMÉS Studio
Photo Courtesy: HOMMÉS Studio
One of the most anticipated events in the world, Milan Design Week holds exacting standards for design enthusiasts across the globe. The five-day fair showcases only the most stunning collections, rounding up everything from home décor and furnishings to elaborate artworks and installations.
Photo Courtesy: Swarovski
The design fair is anchored by the Salone del Mobile, which is responsible for the home décor section of the fair. As was expected, this year’s design week was nothing short of grand, with elaborate selections – some new and some vintage trends making a comeback.
Photo Courtesy: Piktorlabs
The fair welcomed a wide number of designers, including celebrated fashion houses like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Versace, who laid down their vibrant home décor collections. For a long time now, fashion houses have been expanding their horizons, delving into the décor sector, blurring lines between fashion and home décor. These are a creative extension of the designer’s work which is classically represented in their collections and popular with loyalists of the brands.
Tom Dixon
Photo Courtesy: Tom Dixon
For instance, Gucci is a brand best recognised for its over-the-top, eclectic melange of prints, patterns, and colours, which is mirrored in their home décor collections as well. Popular brands and designers including Fratelli Boffi, B&B Italia, Tom Dixon were present at the fair in 2022,  
Back to the 70s  
Over the years, there have been multiple attempts to revive trends from the yesteryears – vintage décor and antique furniture being the centrepiece. Aside from these original collections, designers would also create new ‘vintage’ pieces, using modern materials, intellectually recycling the popular designs. For instance, B&B Italia brought back its classic Camaleonda sofa using new upholstery, originally designed by Mario Bellini in 1970. Others such as the Cassada company brought back their iconic ‘875’ armchair. 
Photo Courtesy:
Photo Courtesy: Dimorestudio
The 70’s trend was reinterpreted for displaying incredibly detailed pieces in eccentric settings.  
Dimorestudio had one of the most elaborate 70’s-inspired settings. ‘A dreamlike space’ was what the studio aspired to be, filled with lighting, furniture and textiles that were shrouded in plumes of smoke for an added dramatic effect. The space was titled ‘Oublié’ which translates to ‘to forget’ in English, which is exactly how the founders – Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci wanted their guests to feel, forgetting the aches of the pandemic and feeling nothing but hope and joy. Wrapped in a neutral colour palette of beige, brown and ivory, the space was enhanced with fun elements like fringe, ferns, chrome and striking printed upholstery, leaving behind technical lighting, and playing with statement lamps and natural lighting. 
Photo Courtesy: HOMMÉS Studio
Additionally, HOMMÉS Studio unveiled a similar setting in the Chromatik House. Calling it the metaverse experience of a traditional home, the Chromatik House was an amalgamation of classical proportions with dreamlike silhouettes, featuring mid-century modern lines and the obvious 70’s sexy disco charm. Sticking to disco charm that defined the ’70s, Sé Studio’s disco-themed room was the icing on the cake. Keeping with the neutral theme, while focusing on character, the room had a funky disco ball light fixture hanging amidst murky white interiors, dull lighting, and plush couches. Statement lighting pieces were the main stump of the disco theme, and brands like Lee Broom, Tom Dixon, and Maximilian Marchesani’s collections radiated the disco theme beautifully. 
Sé Studio
Photo Courtesy: Sé Studio
Chanel’s iconic jacket material from the 1950s and 1960s, bouclé has been the talk of the town since its return last year. And while many claim to be suffering from the bouclé fatigue, other continue to enjoy the soft and comforting yet luxurious feel of the material. It was also one of the biggest trends of the Milan Design Week with refreshing updates in terms of colour. All through 2021, bouclé was the flag bearer of minimalism and sophistication with its all-white appeal that appealed to very few. This year, however, the material had a reincarnation of sorts with a palette of warm colours making headway. While the classic cream can still be found in stores, the material now comes in vibrant hues of red, blue, green and brown. Some striking examples of these can be found within brands like Arflex, Montis, Moroso and Saba who stuck to nature-inspired hues.
Photo Courtesy: Moroso
Talking about Boucle’s presence in the Indian markets, Sachin Chauhan of Nirmals Furnishings said, “The Indian customer has been evolving over the past few decades. With travel and exposure to the best products around the world, customers have developed finer sensibilities and a wealth of knowledge and experience. Most importantly, they know exactly what they want. While we were trading in boucle for a long time, post its success in Milan, it is currently one of the most popular fabrics in the country, and we have seen the change since its early days.” The company reportedly acquires the fabric from the same place as Chanel Home for its customers. 
Light up  
Lighting is another exciting section at the Milan Design Week that manages to cast a wave of awe every time. This year’s fair, too, had the same effects, with a variation of lighting pieces from simplistic designs to elaborate works of art. While we quite enjoyed the minimal designs, it was the elaborate fixtures that truly stood out. Lighting has over the years, become more than just lighting, it is a work of art that combines design innovation and technology, giving you statement pieces that stand out as attractive décor pieces as well — artistic lamps, elaborate chandeliers, innovative fixtures, and more.
Lee Broom
Photo Courtesy: Lee Broom
Speaking of elaborate fixtures at the fair, Lee Broom’s Divine Inspiration was one exhibition to look out for. His Hail Lights installation was one of the standouts, that had quite an interesting concept. It was made up of fluted aluminium hail lights, that were arranged as a six-metre-long hanging installation. Here is where it gets interesting, the lights were positioned above a mirror to create the impression that the pendant stretches into infinity. While it is impossible to fit these in a regular home in the city, these would work stunningly in a showroom or gallery. 
Barovier & Toso
Photo Courtesy: Barovier & Toso
Chandeliers were another big trend at the fair. While these have always been a statement piece, they are now becoming a mainstream must-have for suburban homes as well. Venetian glassmaking company Barovier & Toso’s Magritte chandelier is an example of traditional design accompanied by a theatrical yet elegant arrangement of hand-blown glass giving it a floating-in-the-air kind of look. Focusing on a more traditional design, Baccarat’s collaboration with Philippe Starck displayed a ‘nervous zenith’ chandelier, a fun play between glass and crystal the chandelier makes a statement of its own. 
Philippe Starck
Photo Courtesy: Philippe Starck
Keerthi Tummala, Creative Director and Founder – Sage Living adds that, “Lights aren’t simply functional. Artistic lighting can create a striking visual moment in a room. Instead of wall paintings, interesting illuminators can be used as installations suspended from mid-air. They act as kin to a sculptural piece while being a functional light at the same time. Klove, Paul Matter and Shailesh Rajput Studio are go to brands for interesting sculptural lighting with-in India”. 
Prints and patterns   
D&G Casa
Photo Courtesy: D&G Casa
Minimalism is long gone. Everything within the design industry today is all about maximalism, bold prints, loud patterns and contrasting themes, which more or less always come together to form something creative and interesting. While Gucci takes the cake every year for its wonderfully crafted maximalist selections, the house’s absence at the fair allowed other brands to shine through. One of them being Dolce & Gabbana. In addition to debuting two dedicated Milanese stores, the house also debuted its D&G Casa selection at the fair. Going all out, D&G displayed several themed selections of matching bold prints including carretto, majolica, leopard, and zebra. A real treat for the eyes, carretto is every maximalist enthusiast’s dream, providing hordes of inspiration to those who want to experiment with prints and patterns. 
“Bold prints and patterns offer a great colour contrast on upholstered furniture, wallpapers and bed linen. I have always felt that richer hues and patterns have a story to share and elevate the living experience. While pastels have always dominated interior spaces, patterns and prints add luminance to a space, adding more positive vibes and energies,” says Sanjana Lunia, Founder and Creative Head, Eris Home.
Roberto Cavalli
Photo Courtesy: Roberto Cavalli
Roberto Cavalli was another memorable showcase which paid tribute to the brand’s design philosophy. It was inspired by the fashion house’s iconic prints including animal print which doused in a sophisticated colour palette of grey, ivory, and beige tones. These covered comfortable couches, armchairs, and decorative coffee tables, among others. Cavalli also had another showcase of 20 chairs decorated classic Roberto Cavalli animal prints around a neoclassical structure made of carved wood with a matte black finish.  
The word ‘eccentric’ gets a new meaning with Nilaufer Gallery’s Flora Seating Series. Presenting a psychedelic approach to design, the collection was filled with eccentric prints that contrasted one another yet complement each other perfectly. Not just home décor, tableware collections also saw a burst of eccentricity with brands like La DoubleJ, melding prints, colours, and patterns together for a vibrant selection that is far from boring. 
Stella McCartney
Photo Courtesy: Stella McCartney
One of the most beloved selections, however, was that of printed wallpaper. In addition to Stella McCartney’s mushroom-themed toile de Jouy printed wallpaper, there were sections like the Tableau collection by AB Concept Studio, showcasing the complex micro-seasons of Japan’s coniferous forests and Milanese brand Pictalab’s Portaluppi Herbarium collection showcasing immersive, floral scenes which paid homage to the grand garden room at the late Milanese architect Piero Portaluppi’s Casa Atellani. 
AB Concept Studio
Photo Courtesy: AB Concept Studio
“Bold colors and patterns reminiscent of the 60s and 70s and picturesque wallpapers are making a comeback. Gone are the days of just printing on paper. Wallpapers now come in jute, grass cloths, and silks with pretty much any design and they can be framed as a piece of art. The usage is also bolder and braver. By choosing a nature-inspired wallpaper design, the boundaries between indoors and out can become blurred. For me, maximalism is about freedom of expression. Surrounding yourself with loved objects that tell the story of your life and reflect your personality. It is less about touch and more about sight. Bold prints and wallpapers are chosen over their own merit with little regard for how it looks together in a space. The overall effect is bold and joyous,” says Tummala.  
Playing with colour
Louis Vuitton
Photo Courtesy: Louis Vuitton
Staying close to the maximalist theme, vibrant colours were a big part of this year’s fair. Bidding farewell to boring muted tones and neutral hues, popping candy colours became the new ‘it’ for design, like Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades. Collaborating with some of the best international designers like Fernando and Humberto Campana, and Atelier Oï, Louis Vuitton.
One of the most fun collections at the Milan Design Week has to be Swarovski’s Signum Collection. Created in collaboration with German porcelain artisan Rosenthal, the collection includes a series of colour-coordinated tableware selections that are a fusion of porcelain and crystal. The main motif in the collection, which is the octagonal frame, is said to be inspired by 19th-century Austrian art. Adding an oomph of luxury, the collection features delicate, exquisite details like cut-crystal lids, golden Swarovski swans, golden details, delicate hand paintings etc which highlights both brands’ signature styles and artistry.
Photo Courtesy: Swarovski
Slow design and sustainability  
Leaving aside all the popular trends within the industry, sustainability was one of the biggest and most important aspects of this year’s fair. Ever since the Covid pandemic, the intersection of design and sustainability has been perceptible with brands promoting innovative fabrics developed from natural fibres or discarded materials. 
Photo Courtesy: SLIDE
British fashion designer Stella McCartney designed a mushroom-themed toile de Jouy-style print which is to be made into a wallpaper for Cole & Son. With a substrate made from 79% renewable fibres, this is said to be the company’s most sustainable wallpaper yet. Celebrating its 20th anniversary at Milan Design Week, SLIDE design collaborated with designer Marcantonio to create crocodile inspired armchairs made up of a bioplastic derived from sugarcane bagasse. In addition to bio plastic, cork (oak wood) was another material that was seen extensively at the fair. German design company Classicon used the material to design chairs that double up as a piece of art. 
Photo Courtesy: Classicon
TAPIS Studio‘s new rug collection celebrated the link between sustainability and slow design. For the unaware, slow design is when artists and creators take their time to design something, which allows them to focus on consumption while paying attention to the materials and elements used. TAPIS studio presented a selection of rugs, from minimal monochrome to striking prints. These rugs are made from biodegradable or recycled fibres such as Econyl, an innovative fibre made of lost fishing nets from ocean waste. 
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Schenelle Dsouza


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