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Home > Milan Design Week 2023: Top 4 Trends Shaping the Future of Design

Milan Design Week 2023: Top 4 Trends Shaping the Future of Design

From new ways to working with residual waste to decor trends that resonate with the post pandemic world, find out the dominant themes and trends that presented themselves at this

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Salone del Mobile 2023. Photo by Alessandro Russotti

The 61st edition of the Salone del Mobile fair concluded on April 23, 2023 with the participation of over 300,000 visitors, a 15 percent increase in attendance from last year. A press release issued by the fair notes, ‘More than 2,000 exhibiting brands took part, 34 percent of them from 37 different countries, including 550 young designers from 31 different countries and 28 design schools and universities from 18 different countries’. Mario Porro, President of the Salone del Mobile had promised the direction this year’s fair would take, “Design and furnishing are fuelled by science, technological research, art, photography, digital communication, publishing and lots more besides. The new exhibition format will underscore this relationship in even greater depth”. 

Echoing across its many pavilions, as well as the accompanying Fuorisalone events across Milan, were trends that reiterated the increasing influence of science and technology as a catalyst for design innovation, such as the use of modular lighting and focus on repurposed materials. There were other noteworthy trends too – the outdoor collections showcased a notable emphasis on comfort, and across displays and pavilions, there was particular focus on moving away from beiges and neutrals towards more vibrant accent colours.

Crystal Grid by Preciosa, courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano. Photo by Diego Ravier
Constellations by David Rockwell

Modular Lighting Takes Centre Stage 

Euroluce, the biennial lighting show, returned this year, bringing lighting into the spotlight during Salone. Modular lighting, in particular, seemed to be having its moment with several brands presenting collections with modular traits – designs that allow for multiple configurations and lighting levels, thereby allowing users to enjoy a personalised lighting experience. Constellation, designed by David Rockwell and produced by Lasvit, was a notable highlight in this category. Taking inspiration from the celestial ceiling murals at New York’s Grand Central Terminal, this series of lights allow for various configurations and can be adapted to suit versatile spaces and needs. Segmento, designed by Indefinito Design Studio for Olev was another highlight – a flexible wall lamp with each segment having two cylinder bases joined by a spring steel rod. The flexible rods can be placed in relation to each other in endless arrangements, enabling a bespoke user experience. 

Customisation was a standout quality of another statement lighting fixture unveiled at Salone del Mobile 2023 – Tri Light by the design brand Tokio. This modular sculptural light, resembling a honeycomb, is composed of 106 unique aluminium modules that can be remotely programmed to emit different temperatures and strengths of light. Meanwhile, Preciosa Lighting showcased its Crystal Grid collection, which features hand-blown crystal tubes arranged in a three-dimensional grid that can be altered to suit different spaces. 

Aava 02 by Arper, courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano. Photo by Andrea Mariani
Tatami ReFab Project by Honoka

The Advent of Repurposed Materials 

In recent years, brands and design practitioners have been making strides towards sustainability by exploring the potential of repurposing waste materials. Salone del Mobile 2023 further reinforced this trend by prioritising sustainability as a key concern at the event, both in terms of organising and running the trade fair. Notably, Salone was the first sectoral exhibition to attain ISO 20121 certification for sustainable events management. 

Accordingly, several brands presented their innovative takes on sustainability at their booths, showcasing their commitment to creating eco-friendly and socially responsible products.

The Italian furniture brand Tacchini collaborated with design studio FormaFantasma to replace industrial foam with surplus sheep’s wool in its products. Global designer furniture brand Arper presented the Aava 02 chair, made with sustainable material including recycled plastic. The theme also echoed through Salone Satellite, the fair’s vertical dedicated to showcasing product designers under the age of 35. Honoka, a design studio based in Japan presented its Tatami ReFAB Project furniture collection that utilised biodegradable resin and Igusa grass sourced from old tatami mats. At the INODA+SVEJE Gallery in the city’s design district, Indian furniture studio Phantom Hands presented a collection of products designed by Amsterdam-based designers Xander Vervoot and Leon van Boxtel that utilised small blocks of residual wood waste from their furniture production process.

Outdoor collection by Flexform, courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano. Photo by Alessandro Russotti
Rodona by Skyline Design

Doubling Down On Outdoor Comfort

According to reports, the global outdoor furniture market is set to grow to $35.1 billion by 2023. After COVID, the doubling down on comfort, wellness and connecting with nature in our residential spaces has percolated onto outdoor areas of the homes too. “Contemporary lifestyle is based on the fluidity of spaces, and on the particular relationship of the human being with nature,” noted Marco Spinelli, corporate manager at Poliform, which launched its outdoor collection with an installation at the Basilica of San Simplician, an ancient Roman Catholic Church. The newly launched collection included collaborations with various designers. Some highlights included Strata, a coffee table with sculptural qualities that is inspired by mineral stratifications and designed by Emmanuel Gallina. Made with the highly resistant Cementoskin®, each Strata table is unique yet in sync with others in the collection, “like stones in nature,” as noted by the brand. Soori Day Lounge, designed by Soo Chan to offer a relaxing lounging experience was another highlight. This round day bed comes with a braided headboard and upholstery that maximises comfort.

Outdoor seating collections by several other brands presented plush, oversized sectionals usually seen in indoor collections. Notable examples included Nooch, a modular outdoor sofa designed by Piero Lissoni for B&B Italia, the Rodona outdoor lounge furniture collection by Spanish brand Skyline Design, as well as the outdoor collection by Flexform. These collections reflect a larger theme of blending indoors and outdoors, and of connecting with nature and natural light.  

Emmanuel Gallina was a speaker at ID Symposium 2023. View his talk here

Nora by Meridiani, courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano. Photo by Alessandro Russotti
Sofa by Montbel,courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano. Photo by Ruggero Scardigno

Juxtaposing Bright Colours

Several brands across the fair tapped into the power of bright accent colours and bold patterns in their product collections at Salone 2023. Shades of red and maroon emerged as key accent colours in furniture collections, such as the Binda sofa from the Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades collection displayed as part of Fuorisalone. Presented in a vivid shade of red that brings attention to its sharp curves and sculptural form, the sofa served as a statement piece in contrast to its muted backdrop. At the Meridiani booth at Salone, Nora, an armchair with lush upholstery, also made a statement with its bright red colour, as did the sprawling Chanel sofa designed by By Edi & Paolo Ciani for Montbel. Evoking boldness and excitement, these collections echo a larger trend of playfulness in furniture – also seen at the Salone booths of brands such as Kartell and Roche Bobois which utilised vivid colours and patterns.


Story by Sridevi Nambiar

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