Milan design week 2017
Published on: 11th April 2017
Reflection, Refraction and Distortion
Iridescence still held pride of place as one of this year’s most unique material finishes. Examples were seen in everything from glassware to furniture and attempted to move away from the oily examples seen in last year’s show. Designs often used a layering of analogous tinted transparent materials to bring a richness and further depth to the finish.
Manipulation of light was a strong theme throughout the week. Halftones and linear distortion were used to great effect, creating surprising colour and form shifting qualities as the viewer’s angle changed.
Honesty of Construction
Once again, honesty of construction was still prevalent. This goes beyond just having a considered number of parts, extending into being truthful about material usage and transparent about the types of fixtures used.
Careful attention to detail was placed on the smallest parts. Screw and bolt details were often left exposed and in many cases were featured as a highlight. This leads to an interesting industrial aesthetic, where materials and processes were elevated into something beautiful using bold colour or were used in contrast to soft furnishings, bringing them into the home.
Bold, geometric and graphical patterns are no longer just found on furniture and textiles but continue to translate more effectively onto consumer products for stronger stamps of individuality.
Light heartedness and good humour across form and silhouettes offered up a youthful and joyful experience for many of the designs on show. We’re excited to see how this will develop throughout the year.
As ever, we see products being distilled down to their most primitive forms. Designers across the board are paying considerable attention to contrast and negative space to create a beautiful sense of balance, often using high contrast black and white to achieve an inky contrast.
We see this moving into lighting, especially due to the further accessibility of the OLED diffuse panel, allowing the white to act as the blank canvas for intersections of contrasting shapes. Thin LED strip lighting concealed within minimalist geometric forms provides a beautifully pure lighting experience that was seen across a number of installations this year.
This year’s immersive experiences from big brands such as Samsung, LG and Pepsi Co. were impressive in both size and inspiring content. Associating the sensitivity to design and design culture with a strong brand is the core message on display. Artist’s installations stole the show however, with exhibitions from Lee Broom and Quayola leaving us speechless.
Future of Food
A continued interest between design and the future of food continued this year in Milan. There was a light touch on incorporating technology in food, with greater emphasis on exploring food as a series of components especially when used in an unconventional way. Whether these experiences translate into a reality is debatable, but food / brand as design will no doubt develop and grow for many years to come.
As ever, there was a healthy amount of colour both at the fair and around the Fuorisalone. A fresh take on last year’s green and a soft pink were dominant across all the spaces. While the same colour usage from previous years of reds, greens and blues still have a presence; these colours have been refined considerably, transitioning away from the oversaturated primary colours into calmer, saturated pastels.
Designers this year were not afraid to disrupt base colours completely with significant fluorescent use, this moved beyond just a small accent colour on a muted palette into whole products being combinations of fluorescents across all spectrums, this is a difficult balance to get right but very successful and individual when done well.