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 veined marbles 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!