Icon by Design’s Head of Product Design, Tania Da Cruz is back from Milan Design Week, the biggest design fair in the world. It felt wonderful to be back at her old stomping ground; Tania herself has exhibited at Salone Satellite three times and won 1st prize in 2013!
As always, the city of Milan played host to the best design shows, installations and exhibitions that were inspiring and intriguing. From the thronging crowds at Salone del Mobile to the thought-provoking installations dotted throughout the city, here’s the inside scoop on all the latest trends in the world of design that Tania saw and loved.
Hello, Tania! Welcome back to Sydney. We know that you have so much to tell us, but can you describe Milan Design Week in just five words?
Creativity, innovation, quality, excellence, experience. It’s hard to encapsulate the true essence of this wonderful event in just five words!
Name your Top 5 products/ pieces that made an impression on you. Why did they appeal to your designer eye?
1. The ceramic vases “Decoupage” by the Bouroullec Brothers for Vitra. I loved the spontaneous way that clay was used.
2. Wireline by Formafantasma for Flos. This lamp’s minimalist style had a big ‘wow’ factor. The way the power cable becomes the design feature itself, being hidden in giant rubber bands is sheer genius! You look at it and ask yourself, “How are the tubes powered?” It’s like magic. Be ready to see this light being used everywhere; it is sure to become a bestseller.
3. Quijote table lamp by Lennart Ebert at Salone Satellite. This playful lamp is very clever. The light bulb is actually a semi-sphere made out of a 3D printed translucent polymer that hides a magnet ball inside, allowing the light to be absorbed by the sphere and moved around to direct the light in all directions.
4. Belgian company Bulo making environmentally friendly products from recycled materials. A table made from leftover cranberry pulp acquired after making cranberry juice was an eye-opener – and it looked absolutely gorgeous!
5. “Giraffe in Love” by Marcantonio for qeeboo. A life-sized fibreglass giraffe holding an ornate chandelier in its mouth was definitely the most iconic product of Milan Design Week. At 4m high, it was bold, playful yet so graceful.
What emerging trends did you observe?
So many! The rise of the statement rug – bold, beautiful, bespoke creations from Matteo Cibic for Jaipur Rugs, CC Tapis, Rugture, as well as a mystery rug at Rossana Orlandi. At one end of the spectrum, we saw clashing patterns everywhere from Gucci Décor, Cristina Celestino’s apartment at Palermo Uno, Nippon and Jaipur Rugs as well as spatial contradictions at Nilufar Depot, Palazzo Litta and Living Divani. At the other extreme, we noticed palettes of whites in various shades and textures. High-end materials like boucle fabric, marbles and lighting made whites feel very luxe.
In terms of colour, what are the trending colour palettes?
The pastel colours that have been big over the past few years are being replaced with earthy and highly pigmented colours, such as yolk yellow, terracotta brown and deep coral red. Often these are combined with a monochromatic faded version of the same colour. We loved the mix of blues with warm earthy tones as best displayed by Arper.
What exhibitions and installations stood out?
CC-Tapis –A young and vibrant rug brand that grows exponentially every year. Every aspect of this company is stylishly curated, from the choice of the designers that they collaborate with, to the custom techno music that is played at their event.
An outdoor furniture company that uses vibrant colours and highly textured fabrics that make your jaw drop. I was amazed by their oxidised mesh copper wall and their rugs made out of shoe laces.
This Italian marble inlay atelier has collaborated with designer Patricia Urquiola to give us craftsmanship, colour palettes and unconventional design concepts that always stand out.
How will these trends permeate through to what we see at Icon by Design in the near future?
Rather than merely following new trends, I believe in being aware of them to decide which direction to take next.
One of the most noticeable trends at Milan Design Week was the playfulness in shapes and colours and the unexpected “wow” factor as seen in high-end brands like The Haas Brothers, Marni, Matteo Cibic, altreforme, Moooi and qeeboo. Even the Scandinavian brands integrated playful elements in their new designs, such as bold rounded edges or blocky primary shapes. It adds a little spark to break up the seriousness that can sometimes make minimalism visually boring.
The other aspect I noticed was the ‘magic effect’ that made the viewer wonder, “How is this made?” This was achieved through hidden connections made in unusual and clever ways, or through adept use of new technologies.
In terms of fabrics for upholstery, I have seen numerous brands using highly textured woolly fabrics and bouclé in beige. I really liked it and wonder if the Australian market will embrace it. I was inspired by the new colour palettes we saw and will use this to showcase our products, both on photoshoots and instore. Materials and accessories for our styling will always be up to date with a curated style that will be influenced by what we absorbed during Milan Design Week.
Tell us how are these emerging trends in line with Icon by Design’s principles of sustainability, timelessness and craftsmanship.
Sustainability was in the spotlight with a showcase by Rossana Orlandi titled ‘Guiltless Plastics’ with a range of designers presenting products that reuse plastics to form something new. At Icon by Design, our product design will always be dictated by our core values of sustainability and timeless; they are non-negotiable. A well-crafted timeless design is, by definition, also sustainable; we will always stay true to our founding principles, no matter what trends come and go.
Lastly, did you get a chance to “be a tourist”? What did you see and do?
I consider Milano my second home as I lived there for 10 years but there is always something new to see. I had time to visit the Triennale Design Museum, Fondazione Prada, the MIART (Milano International Art Fair) and also got on the guest list for an electronic music party hosted by Gucci. Milano is so marvellously fancy, and that’s what I love about this city!