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New Design Trends Spotted at Salone Del Mobile 2023

NEXT UX: The annual event took place during Milan Design Week this past April

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SALONE DEL MOBILE MILANO during Milan Design Week was yet again successful in bringing the world to the undisputed global design and fashion capital, April 18-23. For many years, I’d have very few industry colleagues from the retail/restaurant sectors mention a show in Milan that had blown them away like this event. Well, after my first time at the show, I can truly understand why their past comments had come with such fire in their eyes, and why it had changed them as design professionals. To our readers, I invite you to make a trip in 2024 – but prepare yourself as you’ll never get to see it all in one week!

Through this event, Milan comes alive with design, trends, people watching and outright inspiration in what feels like every corner of this historic, gritty, booming city – in a country that has long traded on “design” as part of its culture. (Perhaps, at times, even more so that its famed culinary offerings.)

New Design Trends Spotted at Salone Del Mobile 2023

EuroShop in Düsseldorf had always been my benchmark in how a city can come to life during a fair (even some retailers give nods to the event in their windows). That experience simply does not compare to how Milan is taken over by both Salone del Mobile (held at the city’s exposition centre called Rho Fiera) and what is called FuoriSalone – a series of events that take place throughout Milan during the furniture fair.

As of this writing, it’s estimated more than 300,000 people attended from approximately 173 countries. The 61st edition of the event featured nearly 2175 exhibitors, hundreds of emerging design artists and some 27 design schools in participation. The collaboration with the world’s best design talent was also noted through every touchpoint during the event. (I should also mention that Euroluce, a biennial exhibition, featured the theme of “Design School: Building the Impossible Process, Progress, Practice,” at the show. The lighting halls at the RhoFiera were simply stunning with some of the best exhibits I’ve ever experienced.)

In this and the next article (to be featured on vmsd.com) I will be sharing our observations and some finds that will no doubt inspire you too. My intent is to break down some overarching design themes as well as what I learned about balancing time between the Salone at Rho Fiera and FuoriSalone events throughout the city.

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Throughout this two-part series, I’ll share some buzz around trends and why something called “Alcove” is important to watch. We will be including the images you see here and more via VMSD’s and Ensemble’s social media postings, so I encourage you to cross reference for further insights.

New Design Trends Spotted at Salone Del Mobile 2023

COLOR: Two hues seemed to be everywhere: Electric blue and magenta. I cannot emphasize enough my belief that these two colors will play a big role in interiors soon. “Bold” is back, and it’s clear we’re moving from minimalism to maximalism. Not only in terms of materiality but through graphics, fixtures and interior paint selections. As always, there are complementary colors and patterns, but one cannot miss how much these two were embraced at Salone. My prediction? Mustard and olive hues will also be key shades.

SHAPES: From rugs to furniture to textiles to lighting, unusual shapes have become a key part of decor styling, almost mimicking the trend of biophilic design. Curved, rounded corners, soft edges and arches were evident throughout the show. Even jewelry-inspired shapes can be seen through mirrors and lighting fixtures. The way shapes interplay with one another in a rhythmic manner is important to layouts. It’s believed that these shapes connote a relaxed environment. Area rugs are not defined by a square, circle nor rectangle, but are rather organic in nature, not confined to anything other than a piece of floor artwork. This includes wall tapestries that are playing an important role in sound attenuation and absorption.

SUSTAINABILITY: Eco-friendly design in concert with a net-zero sustainable platform continues to become a standard practice in the industry. Lighting is certainly contributing with its ever-increasing ability to deliver energy-efficient bulbs, and furniture is increasingly being crafted from recycled materials. An emerging topic beyond sustainability is creating functional and timeless products. (Nike’s INSPANIFICIO experimental ISPA range is an example, for reference.)

New Design Trends Spotted at Salone Del Mobile 2023

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BIOPHILIA: Biophillic design continues to link natural materials like stone and wood. Bamboo, with its sustainable characteristics, seems to be a material that we’ll be utilizing more and more into displays and fixtures. OMA Architects coupled up with Dutch material brand SolidNature for a product presentation called “Beyond the Surface” – a journey to showcase geological formations to the beauty of the finished product indicates we’ll be seeing more natural stone in our interiors.

LIGHTING: Illumination is simply both an art form and a necessity. It continues to evolve technically, and also to the delight of our eyes with beautifully designed fixtures and applications. (One called the new trend “lightscaping.”) What I saw was an ever-increasing sculptural aesthetic to lighting fixtures that are more about lighting an object or visually narrowing a space than overall illumination. LED technology continues to evolve with warmer and natural color temperatures. Not only because of its association with lower uses of energy, there is also a big movement to life-cycle conversations regarding lighting, with manufacturers speaking about the incorporation of recycled materials in their product lines.

MATERIALS: Wallcoverings and graphic design played a major role in the Salone. Every major exhibit and well-styled backdrop included wallcoverings with bold prints and beautiful patterns. If you’re not going all in as a designer on wallcoverings, you’ll be missing a major design trend. If you look at the scale of prints, you’ll see that oversized patterns dominate. There is also a mix at play with the layering of textures.

New Design Trends Spotted at Salone Del Mobile 2023

SIGNAGE/GRAPHICS: Graphics are also being applied onto fixtures of all types. Manufacturers in the kitchen and bath sectors are beginning to see fixtures as as art pieces. From toilets to sinks to tubs, the beauty of applied graphics is impactful and follows the trend of boldness across all elements.

Stay tuned for more insights in Part II, to be featured on vmsd.com.

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PHOTO GALLERY (25 IMAGES)
📷 Brian Dyches

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