Anna Agapova, Creative Director O&A Design
Traditionally, Milan Design Week takes place every April, and hosts a big exhibition dedicated to the Salone Del Mobile. Seeing new work and attending these events are an important aspect of a successful designer’s work. Professional designers from all over the world visit this event. Here one can witness the birth and death of new trends, up-to-date items, and timeless design.
This year however, due to the global pandemic, the exhibition has been cancelled. So, as a visitor to Milan Design Week every year without fail over the past ten years, I would like to share my views of the trends which, in my opinion, would have been prevalent at the Salone Del Mobile 2020 .
In 2019, looking at the leading companies stands and key installations a movement back towards the eighties was apparent. We saw the aesthetics of disco, floral design, neon, perforations, complex solid colours, and outer space themes. We moved away from conservative styles, moving instead to the creation of completely new objects.
Let us look at these in a little more detail.
1. Floral designs
There are only a few people in the history of design and fashion that not only created items but also managed to create an easily recognisable brand. One of these names is the famous British textile and interior designer Laura Ashley, who brought floral themes and large bright prints into our homes in the eighties. A floral craze started in 1983 after Ms Ashley published her book on floral design, instantly winning many hearts.
In Milan we saw many variations of floral design used in wallpaper, upholstery and wall coverings.
2. Asian motifs
Stands that looked like finished interiors shared one feature that deserves a separate mention – an abundance of plants. Bringing the “jungle” into homes is borrowed by western designers from Asian households. We are talking about large exotic plants that can often be seen in Asian interiors.
We can also see oriental elements in the new furniture collections. The eighties were the years of innovation and travel.Inspired by their visits to Asia, designers enthusiastically borrowed and integrated various approaches and elements they had encountered on their travels into traditional European design.
3. Neon Rush
Neon entered the cities in the eighties with the first billboards.
During Milan Design Week 2019 we saw various expressions in neon, from individual flexible neon tubes to huge bold stands. For example Versace Home presented their home collection within a private residence. Interior designer Sasha Bikoff and artist Andy Dickson turned the space into a wild remix of prints and shades – neon clouds, a Miami palm paradise and Santa Barbara as we saw them watching the films of the eighties.
4. Leopard Print
Last year leopard prints were on display at several interior exhibitions, including, surprisingly, Scandinavian ones.
The main trend setters in Milan were the flamboyant designers Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran from the Dimore Studio. In their studio they presented the Visioni project, dedicated to the aristocratic Gabriela Crespi, the first female interior designer. The designers covered the walls in leopard print. Crespi travelled widely and created her collections using various techniques and materials such as bamboo, latten brass and bronze. The items she created were beautiful, glamorous and understated. This is why Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran chose such an extravagant background for their Gabriela Crespi collection.
This duo also debuted another project, dedicated to the launch of their own line of furniture and lighting. The designers turned an old cinema into a home, dividing the spaces with velvet curtains and covering the area with leopard prints rugs.
Here one could see all the stylistic elements of the eighties: disco lights, fringes, combinations of heavy velvet and silk, white and yellow metals, perforations, an armchair shaped as a catapulting space ship seat and bold “illogical” colour combinations.
5. The return of brown
Brown is coming back in wooden wall panels, laminated floors and terracotta furniture, actively making its way into the interior.
6. Dark interiors / ‘Home as shelter’
Overall the colour scheme of the stands and interiors of last year was predominantly dark warm colours. Historians and design theorists explain this tendency by the fact that in times of social and economic crisis humans view their homes as shelters, ready to weave a nest and wrap themselves up in a cocoon, and this explains the colours, recalling Louis Vuitton’s cocoon armchair that became an Instagram hit.
We were very struck by the prominence of the theme of ‘home as shelter’ in press releases covering new collections in 2019. Now we can see how accurately these designers were able to predict the events of 2020.
Text: Anna Agapova
Photo: Salone Del Mobile, Press Office