5 Trends From Milan Design Week 2023

These trends encourage conscious lifestyle decisions, futurism and play.
Elle Decor Italia ©Dario Di Maggio

As an artist, designer, and color consultant, Milan Design Week is without a doubt my favorite event in the design calendar. Held annually in the cosmopolitan city of Milan, this fair event showcases the latest innovations in color, patterns, shapes, and materials, setting the stage for design trends across Italy, Europe, and beyond.

Design isn’t just about aesthetics — it’s also about solving problems and bringing people together to live better. That’s why Milan Design Week is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to think differently and get creative at home. It’s not just for luxury brands but for anyone looking to learn, grow, and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

At this year’s 61st edition of Salone del Mobile, designers took on some of the world’s most pressing issues. This includes the pandemic, humanitarian crises, and global warming. By creating sustainable trends that encourage conscious lifestyle decisions, designers are playing a vital role in shaping our behavior and habits for the better.

So, what were the trends that stood out at Milan Design Week this year? Let’s take a closer look and see how we can incorporate them into our lives. From innovative uses of materials to bold color choices, this year’s designs are sure to inspire and delight. Join us as we explore the exciting world of Milan Design Week!

1. Circular Design

The concept of creating a circular economy is taking the world by storm. It’s all about regenerating and reusing materials and products while ensuring ethical and sustainable manufacturing practices. For the past few years, Milan Design Week has championed this trend, inspiring us to get involved in the movement.

There are many ways we can do our part, such as recycling waste products, repurposing old furniture, and educating ourselves on the origins of a product. As consumers, we need to think before we buy and consider the bigger picture. What is the product made of? How is it made? And where will it end up when we no longer need it? By asking these questions, we can make more conscious choices that support a circular economy.

Recycling & Repurposing

IKEA created a vintage shop, giving their decades-old furniture a new lease of life. They brought their most popular products to design week and explored the ways in which they are trying to be more sustainable, from reducing water waste to introducing schemes for customers to repair and extend the life of their products.

The Senza Invito exhibition at the Carcere di San Vittore prison, featured designs crafted by inmates and made from recycled materials found in the prison grounds, from bottles, batteries, and wooden sticks.

The Rossana Orlandi Gallery, forever in my opinion at the forefront of design, explored themes of waste and re-waste, addressing the important relationship between sustainability and design: “the more an object manages to tell a story, of the artisan, of the materials and of the craft that respects the local territory, the more it acquires value.” As Orlandi says: “Aesthetics now goes hand in hand with ethics.”

2. Design for Good

Design for Good was the theme of 5vie: an event that invited designers to explore the power of design as a means for fostering meaningful human connections. The perfect recipe for art, design, and social innovation. Artemest was an outstanding example of this with L’Appartamento, a 1930s Milanese apartment curated by six prestigious international interior design firms.

The terrace was designed by MONIOMI Design, a celebration of color, curves, and patterns from the scallop flooring to the curved table, mosaic chairs, and the Miami-inspired color palette. Meanwhile, Irthi Crafts Council presented Echos of Alchemy, exploring the idea of the recipe as a design concept, creating a conversation between East and West, blending craftsmanship and contemporary aesthetics.

3. Future Lab

Beyond the Surface by SolidNature ©FuoriSalone

Future Lab was the hot topic of Fuorisalone, offering a reflection on how we imagine our future. Natural stone brand, SolidNature, created an immersive experience “Beyond the Surface,” drawing a parallel between the formation and quarrying of stone, and the process of dreaming — both concepts that require time, skill, and effort. David Mahyari, the CEO of SolidNature explains “We live in a world where we consume more and more and faster but when it comes to achieving our goals and dreams, it takes time. It’s a matter of discipline, patience, and lots of failures, and lessons. The same goes for stone processing.”

Whether you’re a fan or not, the future does mean AI-powered design. MDW showcased the many ways technology can be used for good, such as the exhibition NEOCOSMOS by HOMMÉS Studio and Tapis Studio exploring a concept that challenges the norm to reveal a futuristic vision of interiors, celebrating a deep connection with nature.

4. Light

Euroluce, an international lighting exhibition, made its 31st appearance at MDW this year. From show-stopping light fixtures at Salone del Mobile to nature-inspired light sculptures by Bocci, “The City of Lights” was the running theme this year. It was all about exploring the power of imagination and pushing boundaries with materials and technology.

Beyond the light fixture itself, Elle Decor Italia’s exhibition “The Art of Light” delved a little deeper, exploring the fundamental role of light in interiors. Light is what gives our homes life, emphasizing shapes and furnishings and affecting our mood. Light goes hand in hand with color: two key ingredients for improving our well-being in the home and outdoors. Food for thought the next time you’re decorating!

5. A Sense of Play

A sense of play with a dash of irony and a sprinkle of nostalgia ran through Doppia Firma. This was one of my favorite exhibitions at Milan Design Week which celebrated the dialogue between designer and artisan. A sense of play feels fundamental right now — as a way of overturning perspectives and values. It felt like a celebration of freedom after the last few years of rules and restrictions, loss, and lack of control.

Bagno Paradiso by Atelier Biagetti was a fun play on trips to the beach. The Zig zag folding screen by Zoé Piter, explores cave paintings, part primitive, part state of the art. The Twiggy chair by Chris Wolston takes the shape of the human form, a chair that ‘embraces you’. And possibly my favorite room in the show? Bonacina x Francis Sultana collaboration of a bespoke treillage and rattan furniture that blurs the boundaries of indoor/outdoor living.

Playfulness was also inherent in the Maison Matisse x Faye Toogood collaboration, a furniture collection inspired by the line drawings from the 1943 book Dessins: Thèmes et Variations. A nod to illustrative design and curved lines…as well as a little nudge for us to have fun with our interiors and not take them too seriously.

Maison Matisse x Faye Toogood ©Genevieve Lutkin

My Takeaways from Milan Design Week

Milan Design Week never fails to inspire, and this year was no exception. As I left the event, my head and heart were overflowing with new ideas and perspectives. I was both invigorated and slightly overwhelmed by the power of design. I was reminded that we should never be afraid to celebrate our own stories, both in our personal lives and in our homes. Our living spaces are a reflection of who we are and who we’re becoming. So, let’s embrace change and make room for growth.

The importance of nature has never been more apparent. We must immerse ourselves in it, appreciate it and protect it. Let’s extend our homes beyond the walls and create a space that not only nurtures us but also the natural world.

It’s also crucial to make conscious lifestyle decisions that go beyond our individual impact. We need to consider the origin of materials, the manufacturing process, and how we can pass things on when we’re done with them. By thinking ahead, we can create a sustainable future for ourselves and generations to come. Let’s take the lessons learned at Milan Design Week and apply them to our daily lives, making a positive impact on the world around us.

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