Milan Design Week 2023: the year of records! Confirming expectations, this edition finally returned in April with a boom in visitors and not only industry insiders.
2023 Colour Trends in Interior Design
Retracing the time course of the colours in trend in recent years, we start with the colour brass which accompanied the design world in the years 2019 and 2020, with a slight trailing off also in the first half of 2021.
Now completely disappeared, its decline has instead sanctioned the introduction of greens in all its shades. Starting with light shades such as sage, it then turned to the dark, intense tones also found in the Verde Alpi and Guatemala marbles. Already appearing in the first post-covid editions, it reached its peak in the 2021-2022 two-year period often combined with pastel pink. It also reappears in Design Week 2023, albeit in a different form. In fact, it can be found in veinedmarbles and open-pore wood and lacquer shades, combined with charged tones of red and terracotta but also with neutral tones of beige and powder grey.
Whether warm or cool, they certainly play a key role in the contemporary design scene. Terracotta tones, the great protagonists of the previous edition, are not slow to reappear in monochrome interiors or combined with intense blues.
The latter, which timidly appeared in the form of Klein blue in 2022, find their greatest expression in the current edition. Combining with the increasingly popular powder or ice grey and veering towards their darker hues, they create elegant contrasts by softening their shapes. Giving a foretaste of this is, as always, the fashion world, which in the autumn-winter 2023/2024 fashion shows in London and New York proposes interesting combinations of silver grey with darker tones of blue and burgundy.
The materials protagonists of Design Week 2023
Continuing the theme of the trends of this Design Week 2023, one cannot ignore the chapter on materials. The common denominator is certainly the desire to dare and experiment, underlined already by the choice of colours.
Metals certainly dominate the scene, experimenting with satin finishes, vibrations and chemical treatments. Lacquers also look in this direction with metallic effects ranging from delicate uniform shades to more pronounced finishes.
In keeping with the theme of reflections, mirrors and coloured glass are combined with these. The latter deserve a short parenthesis. During this Design Week 2023 in the Rho Fiera spaces, there was a veritable invasion of glass. Already in previous editions, they had been recognised for their caned and wavy shapes, with workmanship aimed at geometric rigour. In this edition, the attention paid to this material emerges even more, through corrugated glass that seems to recall rippled waves and sinuous movements.
The desire for grit and character can also be found in the choice of woods, which dare iridescent colours such as red, blue and green treated and lacquered in both closed-pore and, above all, open-pore finishes. Marbles are also of the same type, as veined and coloured as possible. Among them all, however, is the neutrality of Travertine, which with its elegant porosity and reference to tradition embraces furnishings of all kinds.
The last chapter relates to the textile world, where the bouclet in trend in 2022 has given way to cottons and stripes with stronger contrasts, almost simulating the jeans effect. Great attention is also paid to weaves and textures, first and foremost straw. It is found both as a characterising element of chairs and armchairs, but also interpreted as a decorative element, layered with glass or mirrors.
All these trends espouse the philosophy of contrast, the guiding principle of this Design Week 2023, whether it is material through strong choices of materials that are, however, chromatically uniform, or tonal contrasts, even daring bold colours as opposed to neutrality.
The theme of light at Design Week 2023
Great attention in this Design Week 2023 is certainly reserved for light, not only in the spaces of the Salone in Rho, through Euroluce, but also in the many installations in the off-site area.
Among the various installations of note, The Art of Light curated by Elle Decor certainly stands out. The historic rooms of Palazzo Bovara, which has been home to the renowned trade publication for years, are metaphorically translated into the highlights of the home. The focus is precisely on the change in their perception depending on the type of light and time of day. Thus the living area goes from being a bright room with diffuse natural lighting, conveying energy and freshness, to a comfortable environment with artificial lighting. The latter certainly provide a more theatrical light, calibrating its intensity in relation to darkness. Indeed, the latter becomes a co-star in the design of a home.
At Villa Necchi Campiglio, it is the Occhio brand that analyses the future of light through a convivial space of discussion rather than mere exhibition. Enclosing the essence of the new proposals is an immersive installation in which the products come alive through elegant movements and dances. The theatricality of light reappears in this Design Week 2023 in the subways of the Stazione Centrale and in the nearby via Sammartini, where Dimore Gallery stages settings on the borderline between cinema, art and design.
The universe of fragrances
A recurring and unusual theme during this Design Week 2023 is the focus on olfaction as a design element. Analysed both as an added value of an environment and as a characterising element, it contributes to creating a perceptive memory. Analysing this theme is Mooi through its digital perfumery.
Algorithmic Perfumery mixes tailor-made fragrances thanks to a creative and experimental test integrating artificial intelligence. It is no coincidence that the installation focuses its main rooms around this machine. Placed in the centre of the entrance, it welcomes the visitor by immediately making itself known as the protagonist of the scene. It is then found on the outside, in a sort of contemporary square, where its presence can be likened to that of a bar with seating and conviviality points arranged around it. Elements that underline the importance of the experience.
At Alcova, whose location during Design Week 2023 will be moved to the former slaughterhouse of Porta Vittoria, the brand Les Eaux Primordiales, to launch its latest essence, proposes a sensorial installation composed of two towers inspired by the industrial buildings of Northern France. In the first tower, in a sort of conceptual and physical decomposition, the individual essences are presented in their purity, usable by the visitor through glass ampoules. The interactive component represents the crucial moment of the installation, also allowing the creation of movement and fluidity in the space.
Design and Haute Couture
As in past editions, contaminations from the world of fashion dominate the design scene during this Design Week 2023.
The partnership between Dior and Philippe Starck continues in the spaces of Palazzo Citterio, re-proposing the Medaillon Chair in a colourful guise. Fluid and elegant movements take the form of a path on the borderline between triumphal march and design catwalk.
Like every year, Missoni gives energy and lightheartedness by creating a dreamlike world in which fabrics embrace doughnut and panettone seats. An environment in which to become a child again, breathing an air of freshness and brightness.
Bottega Veneta entrusts Gaetano Pesce with the presentation and design of two new Limited Edition bags. Through a contemporary cave with resin walls and rock carvings in green tones, he combines the mountains of Este and the American prairies.
Furla interprets its home line through delicate neutral tones, combined with more decisive touches of colour such as green, midnight blue and bronze. Here then, at Design Week 2023, it proposes sophisticated combinations of fabrics, leathers, metallic effect lacquers, velvets, metals and the ever-present marble. A glimpse of the oriental world can be found in the choice of materials and shapes, such as the proposal of round tables instead of the traditional western-style rectangular ones.
Louis Vuitton returns to Palazzo Serbelloni with Objects Nomades, a metaphorical journey among iconic furnishings set in a timeless context. In this example too, light becomes a design element in which furniture in neutral tones is inserted, as if to further soften its forms.
Loewe instead interprets the design-fashion binomial through a parallelism between the new bags and the Loewe Chairs proposals. In the evocative inner courtyard of Palazzo Isimbardi, craftsmanship is translated into weaves and refined techniques among iridescent colours and provocative proposals.
Texturality can also be read in the interior proposals of Armani Casa, which for the first time opens the doors of the historic Palazzo Orsini to the public. Between straw, onyx and jacquard fabric, one recognises the timeless elegance and mastery of Armani, in an interpretation that unites the outdoor and indoor lines in the sign of essentiality. The combination of diametrically opposed materials, such as straw and onyx, results in an absolutely recognisable stylistic interpretation. Special attention is paid to the Italian tradition and its craftsmanship, hence the choice of materials for most of the interior proposals.
Closing the circle is the always masterful interpretation of Hermès‘ home proposals, in the well-established La Pelota location. Cement and iron are dematerialised from the building context to which they belong to become synonymous with lightness and elegance in a stylistic oxymoron. The Maison’s theatrical interpretation succeeds in transposing elements that are by nature raw and robust into light, somewhat ephemeral stylistic traits.
Bye bye Milan Design Week, see you in April 2024
This edition, too, concludes amid historic districts and new proposals. From the world of fashion to the influence of artificial intelligence, craftsmanship and labour.
Contaminations play a leading role in giving life to an eclectic panorama in continuous movement. Undoubtedly the great protagonists of Design Week 2023 were the palaces and historical residences that with their extraordinary opening attracted not only professionals but also families and the curious, who thus had the opportunity to get to know the world of design.
It is no coincidence that this edition was certainly one of the most complete and high-performing, as witnessed by the large numbers and huge queues to access the exhibition spaces. An edition marked by grit and personality that dares strong colour and material contrasts, but does not renounce elegance and uniformity. Let’s close the curtain with a reminder for next year!
A corner kitchen with peninsula takes centre stage in an open-space obtained from the renovation of a flat. Different shades of grey marry the wood of the snack top and wall units, which is also echoed in the detail of the shelves compartment communicating with the living area.
Conformation of a corner kitchen with peninsula: between snack top and double-sided use
Before the renovation, the kitchen followed a corner shape within a confined room. A separate room with side access, adjacent to the main door. By knocking down two of the partition walls, it was possible to create an open space with the advantage of generating a brighter and visually larger room.
By following the existing electrical and plumbing arrangements and making only a few changes to the systems, the new kitchen has thus taken shape, expanding its development to embrace the living area. Starting from the original corner shape, it then added a peninsula part that houses a hob and snack corner for a functional and youthful kitchen.
Column ovens, built-in refrigerator and pantry column are located along the side wall, from which the peninsula with double-sided access then develops. Adjacent to the ovens is the lower base unit, which also embraces the adjacent wall with a window and ends in the entrance storage wall. Next to it are the built-in dishwasher and the doors with fitted sink and pull-out corner. The narrow 30 cm wide door on the other side is nothing more than a front pull-out for storing spices and condiments. The upper wall unit with lighting underneath acts as a visual closing element providing additional storage space. Completing the oven column is a storage drawer and door with a push-open top.
The larder unit with its large depth is accessible from the living area, making it more practical and functional. The peninsula is structured in the same way with double access, with drawers of different heights on the kitchen side and doors with small glass shelves on the living area side. The open compartment facing the living area is instead arranged centrally.
Materials, finishes and colours: between shades of grey and light wood
Elegance and freshness are expressed through a colour palette of neutral tones of grey, anthracite for the kitchen top and ice for doors and shells, combined with oak-effect inserts to convey a sense of naturalness. Different shades emphasise the volumetric development of this corner kitchen with peninsula through a series of combinations and joints.
The top in Lapitec Anthracite with Lithos finish gives a uniform yet textured appearance, which is matched by the undermount sink in Stilgranit Blanco Also in dark anthracite tones is the essential structure of the snack top. The latter features an oak-effect laminate top with a warm and cosy feel, which is also used for the wall unit with drop-down opening and the open compartment in the peninsula.
A refined detail is the overlapping of the snack top with respect to the worktop, which creates a visual detachment and also acts as a supporting element for the top itself. Completing the colour choice are the appliances and accessories. The ovens and gas hob in black ceramic glass echo the Falmec island hood and mixer tap. Different materials united by the same total black aesthetic line.
Added to these is a delicate hanging lamp positioned above the snack top that provides functional lighting while respecting its minimalist aesthetic impact. Minimalist visual lines with 45° shaped door and drawer grooves complete the whole.
In the centre of Milan, a youthful flat is spread over two levels, welcoming a white kitchen with a functional island in the centre. On the upper floor, the elegance of total white is accompanied by a niche wardrobe with mirrored doors that amplify the perception of the sleeping area. Practical elements with linear and elegant aesthetics that define the look of the entire flat. Let’s discover together this realisation designed by architect Stefano Belotti!
A white central island dominates the kitchen area
Upon entering the flat, with its small but practical dimensions, the view is projected onto the kitchen, the layout of which makes full use of the available height with storage compartments. Acting as a visual filter, but at the same time as a functional element for the cooking area, is the central island that echoes the white aesthetics of the kitchen.
The worktop, in matt white Corian, becomes not only a work surface, but also a convenient snack top for aperitifs and quick meals. In this respect, the folding mechanism that allows the (future) service stools to be concealed plays a key role. The front closure panels, in fact, rotate sideways to then be incorporated into the main structure and almost completely disappear.
The volume of the island consists of front-extension doors with internal drawers of different heights. A solution that has now become predominant in the recently concluded edition of the Salone del Mobile, as well as clearly recognisable in previous editions. The main advantage is certainly the more elegant and minimal aesthetics, in which horizontal cuts resulting from the division into drawers are eliminated in favour of a single door.
From the wall unit to the laundry corner: functionality marries total white aesthetics
The adjoining wall unit is made up of multi-level volumetric plays. The service columns, incorporating the built-in refrigerator on one side and the combi-oven to its right, are accompanied by compartments with hinged doors that extend across the entire upper part of the kitchen. On the same depth level, matt lacquered doors with a dishwasher in the central area and internal shelves in the surrounding compartments. The central area, on the other hand, is characterised by a break-out with worktop and sink, upper wall units with vertical partitioning and built-in lighting with a smaller depth.
To ensure the best functional configuration, the side wall to the kitchen and the central island accommodates a white lacquered door that covers the entire height of the room. This conceals inside the laundry area with a washing machine and tumble dryer with columns accompanied by practical shelves for cleaning products.
The linear aesthetics are emphasised both in the choice of lighting, pendant above the white central island and LED strip lighting in the back wall of the kitchen, and also in the joining chain between the Corian top and doors below. The material detachment through an aluminium profile becomes the horizontal reading element both for the back wall, joining the two side ends, and embracing the central island with kitchenette.
A wardrobe with mirrored doors embellishes the sleeping area
On the upper floor, accessible via a white painted spiral staircase, a wardrobe with six mirror-covered doors dominates. The rhythmic vertical division is interrupted by a single horizontal cut at the top, creating an interesting geometric subdivision in the overall aesthetics. The choice of mirrored doors on the one hand amplifies the brightness and perception of the room and at the same time enhances the overall aesthetics.
The division into six doors is reflected internally in a symmetrical composition with double central compartments accompanied by two single compartments at the ends. Compartments with hanging tubes are favoured, but there are also internal drawers and adjustable shelves for better organisation of clothing.
If for the lower level the kitchen with central island favours a uniform white aesthetic, the sleeping area, on the other hand, marries contrasting aesthetics. The bright exterior of the mirrored doors is in fact contrasted by the elegance of a matt black whole on which the elegant chrome hanging tubes can be seen.
The choice of a total white kitchen is always a contemporary and elegant solution. Its simplicity makes it easily adaptable to the surrounding context, whether it has a retro feel, as in this example, or contemporary pop, as in this realisation. It can also be combined with natural wood elements, such as chopping boards and snack tops, thus adding a hint of warmth, here’s an example! Or exploit plays of opacity and shine through different materials, making the room look fresh and bright, perfect for seaside homes!
In the center of Bergamo, 130 square meters of offices overturn their configuration and aesthetics with a renovation that mainly involves the architectural setting of the interiors. Open space and management offices communicate with each other in an environment designed to make the flow of users as functional as possible.
The concept of transparency
Developing the project of working spaces was fundamental the identification of the concept. The latter clarifies on the one hand the message to be conveyed to the public, on the other it becomes a guideline in the choice of materials and finishes. The first step in the renovation was the analysis of the intended use of these offices, reserved for accountants with their collaborators and secretaries, archive areas and meeting points, waiting and conviviality. The definition of different typologies made clear the concept of transparency, the design metaphor of the subsequent architectural configuration. In fact, thinking about the role of the accountant, and his management of sensitive files and documents, the message we wanted to convey is that of transparency, also synonymous with trust and security. This is declined according to the type of interior in different configurations, imagining it as a shade from more to less transparent depending on the degree of “protection” required.
Each function has its level of transparency
By entering the space, the client is projected into an open space, where the production part entrusted to the secretaries finds space. To distinguish and separate the various workstations only furniture of different heights and glass walls, which delimit the work area from the corridor. This represents the point of greater transparency where the customer, despite not having direct access to the environment, has full visual control. Moving on to the waiting, conviviality and meeting functions, a greater degree of privacy is required. These functions find space in well-defined environments, limited to rooms, but easy to access. Here the theme of transparency is declined in construction details, one of all, glass doors for the meeting room. Although they are limited spaces, their access is free and they are located near the main entrance. For the third type of function, on the other hand, the management offices of Chartered Accountants, the level of privacy is considerably higher. In opposition to the central open space, the studios are configured in more or less spacious rooms located along the external perimeter of the floor plan. Access is through corridors or secluded doors, which almost tend to disappear or blend into the surrounding furnishings. This is to guarantee total confidentiality, creating a unique and exclusive relationship between professional and client.
Office renovation: architectural development
The initial internal configuration, chosen by the previous tenants, was based on the use of movable walls with an aesthetic that is now largely outdated. Furthermore, on the floor, a faded blue carpet, also used as the covering of some pillars. From the first sight, however, what fascinated the new tenants was the great brightness coming from the large perimeter windows. This represented the turning point in the evolution of the project. Also, from the plant engineering point of view, a complete renovation was necessary, which could equip each workstation with cable connection to the data network, telephone setting for internal switchboard, and connection to a Wi-Fi network for printers. To better manage the large influx of electrical predispositions and at the same time allow an air conditioning system via split, a false ceiling was created in the main corridor, capable of serving all rooms. At the same time, it allows a greater perceptual distinction between public environments and restricted access work areas.
The renovation of the offices: choice of colors and materials
The aesthetics of colors and materials are defined in neutral tones, with a parquet-effect floor in bleached oak, ice gray walls interspersed with Vardo-colored surfaces from the Farrow and Ball collection. These define the visual rhythm in the interior scan. The ice gray chosen for the painting of the main walls is made even brighter by the great natural lighting. The result is almost close to white, while giving a touch of additional softness compared to the asepticity of the latter. To see other examples of ice gray in the private apartment context: a contemporary-style tavern and glimpses of antiquity in a contemporary attic. At the entrance, the only trace of the initial layout is a full-height paneling in cherry wood that develops at an angle embracing the access to the meeting room, the archive rooms and the corridor with access to the second archive room and bathroom of the personal. The choice of cherry is also taken up in the furnishings of the reception through a shaped counter with matching closet.
Furniture: from the relocation of the existing to the functionality of “custom made”
The existing furnishings find space within this well-defined color contrast. The main difficulty in a renovation project is knowing how to combine furnishings from different offices, with completely different aesthetics and functionality. For the common areas, the most neutral solutions were therefore opted for, with medium gray elements combined with wood-effect bilaminate tops. To intersperse the different environments, and to distinguish their different functions, furnishings in a darker neutral tone. Each room therefore has a unique aesthetic, which can communicate with general neutrality while expressing the strong intrinsic character of each environment. So also, the management offices vary from a classic décor with cherry wood furniture, to essential interiors in light tones or even renewed furnishings with modern blue laminate tops on a wengé wood structure. The most functional point of the interior is represented by the large custom-made wardrobe in the corridor. This serves as an archive and collection point for paperwork and files, with full-height lacquered doors with an essential appearance. Internal shelves adjustable in height allow the best optimization and management of the internal space. Recessed handles run along the longitudinal development of the door, marking the overall rhythm of the furniture. In the same way, the access doors to two management offices are inserted, in which the neutral aesthetic of ice gray is interrupted by vardo-colored inserts. The presence of the handle thus identifies the access point to each room, while remaining discreet in the general perception of the furniture.
Small tips to renovate offices
An office renovation does not only imply changing the general approach in favor of fresher materials and aesthetics. In the first place it means above all choosing the message to be transmitted and knowing how to translate it from an architectural and communicative point of view. Knowing how to combine the stylistic language of existing furnishings is the next step, in which the uniformity factor often lies in the choice of neutral colors and materials for the common areas.
A large wooden room in natural tones picks up on the architectural elements of the attic sleeping area, also housing a walk-in wardrobe in the back structure. Adjacent to the bedroom, a textured glass sliding door leads to the large master bathroom, which also communicates with the study.
The wooden master bedroom with a cosy atmosphere
The architectural context of this sleeping area responds to a well-defined character. On the floor is a parquet floor with a rustic look, with marked knots and grains and a light polish that emphasises its softness. The ceiling, on the other hand, is enriched by wooden beams in warm amber tones with a central ridge. On the sides, elegant draperies embrace the window with large windows, filtering natural light in favour of an intimate and cosy ambience.
A combination of rustic and elegant elements, also echoed in the choice of the wrought iron bed frame, which is matched by important golden velvets. Picking up on the material choice of the architectural envelope, the structure behind the bed conceals the bilateral access to the walk-in wardrobe.
In fact, the doors and covering panels of the structure are concealed by a geometric composition that marks the visual rhythm of the wall. In the centre of this is an open compartment with an ochre lacobel bottom and base which, illuminated by a recessed LED strip in the upper part, is enriched with a golden hue.
A walk-in wardrobe created in the space behind the bed
In order to optimise space, having a large double bedroom, the solution that best meets functionality is to equip the back of the bed with a wooden structure that also serves as access to the walk-in wardrobe. This, as already realised in this classic villa, exploits the longitudinal layout to alternate hanging tubes, folding shelves and linen drawers.
The conformation of the walk-in wardrobe and its bilateral access define its user flow and usability. Also in this micro-environment, the material choice of the individual components plays a fundamental role in defining the overall aesthetic impact. In particular, the shoulders and vertical elements in general are characterised by matt white lacquering, while the horizontality is emphasised with wooden shelves and drawer fronts.
The communicating bathroom in natural tones
A sliding glass door leads from the wooden room to the bathroom, whose wooden furniture echoes the material choice of the entire bedroom area. This is characterised by the presence of large push-open drawers surmounted by a white lacobel top with a ceramic countertop washbasin. The wall-mounted stainless steel tapware is framed by a white lacobel plate that echoes the bathroom vanity top.
A large mirror with integrated lighting amplifies the perception of space, giving additional brightness to the room. The use of LED strips is also taken up in this room, emphasising the material transition between the tile covering and the wall. The bathroom becomes a communicating room between the bedroom and the study, exploiting the double side access. The latter is accessed from the bedroom side by means of a textured glass sliding door in wood effect, from the study side by means of a hinged door of the same aesthetic line.
A wooden room with a natural feel uses the functionality of a walk-in wardrobe behind the bed to optimise space. The choice of natural materials and soft lighting, with a hint of Hygge, creates a relaxing and hospitable environment. To further explore the theme of the wooden sleeping area, here are two other realisations in which the natural material par excellence becomes the protagonist: Comfort among the peaks and a Shabby Chic studio apartment.