Milan Design Week 2018: materials are the protagonist

We’ve reached the halfway point of the Salone del Mobile, and we are letting you know what we’ve liked the most so far at Milan Design Week.  You have until April 22nd to retrace our steps!

Something between wonder and frustration –  that’s what our week in Milan has been like so far.  We’ve scoured the city with our eyes wide open in search of the most original design, looking for innovation and taking notice of trends.  1300 events in 6 days! And with so many possibilities, it’s important that our stay in Milan doesn’t become a marathon.  The city welcomed us with summer weather and streets full of people until midnight.  Today we’re letting you know what we’ve experienced so far.

Living Nature, a reflection on nature and habitat in the shadow of the magnificent Duomo de Milan. Photo:

Salone del Mobile, the destination for upcoming design

Be patient because you’re likely to spend a lot of time queuing up.  Milan’s Salone del Mobile has maintained its powers of attraction.  Professionals and lovers of design travel from every corner of the globe in ‘pilgrimage’ to this design mecca looking for something new.  Milan is still the place to see new trends, whether they are industrial, architectural, or decorative…in a word, design.

If you manage to get in, since many exhibitions have implemented limits on the number of visitors at their booths this year, you will be able to enjoy this runway of design.  The industry has turned over a new leaf and, following the crisis, design has left minimalism behind and has become more sophisticated, richer in nuances and feeling – a sophistication which then must be transferred to day-to-day life.

The trend towards a richness in materials used in furniture, which was hinted at last year, has been confirmed at this year’s show, with stones, cement, metals, glass, different woods which are dark and smoky.  At EuroCucina, this richness in materials is obvious in the use of several materials in one piece of furniture or in a single space.  The inclusion of technology and home automation are also on the rise.

The 2018 Salone del Mobile confirms the trend towards a greater richness in the materials hinted at last year. Photo:

Youth and the bathroom, a creative oasis

Brands are evolving but they aren’t taking risks.  To see new ideas and more daring proposals, you have to head to Salone Satellite, the freshest part of the fair, home to the emerging designers that can allow themselves to undertake riskier projects, exploring and innovating, trying to bring something new to the industry.

The bathroom is fast becoming a space for relaxation and disconnecting from the world in your home, and the design industry is adapting by rolling out solutions that are more creative than those seen in other parts of the Salone.  Imagination has been applied to furniture, accessories, and toilets to change the space – because functionality and beauty aren’t incompatible.

Emerging designers at Salone Satellite. Photo:

Fuorisalone: design dressed in emotion

Fuorisalone, the events and activities that take place outside of the main trade show, are getting more and more attention every year.  For a brand, being in Milan means speaking the language of design and announcing this to the rest of the world, but getting people’s attention among so many offerings is difficult. And that’s why brands are appealing to the emotional and the experiential more and more.  The fair has been enriched by crossover projects with an artistic nature that go beyond product design. 

Following our own recommendations for Milan Design Week, we begin in Tortona, one of the epicentres of the event, where design is dappertutto – everywhere.  Superdesignshow by Superstudio Più remains a must, and this year the Japanese Studio Nendo once again work their magic and make sure all eyes are on Forms of movement‘.    From there we head to  ‘Wood in progress’, a reflection on Finsa’s wood materials, testing the limits of what can be done with wooden boards, as well as industry boundaries.

Sight, touch, sound… let your product speak for itself through experiences

This year we’ve discovered Ventura Centrale, a different space where the exhibitions are looking to trigger our emotions.  Transitions III from the Dutch duo Baars and Bloemhoff discusses experimenting with materials.  ‘Soundscape‘ by Asahi Glass is a sensory game which uses a fragmented glass plate dispersed in the air in a space where all that remains is the sound produced by the glass.  Japanese team Nitto Design have reflected on the influence of colour in a space using washi tape.  These are examples of how we can let a product speak for itself in a creative, experimental, and poetic way.

We fell in love with Ventura Centrale and their experimentation with materials in ‘Transitions III’. Photo:

Another district that we visited was 5 Vie, in the centre of the city and at the oldest intersection in Milan, which combines the richness of its heritage with cutting-edge ideas that are socially nuanced, ranging from product design to the more experimental.  At Vegan Design or the art of reduction, Eves Nevi Pana takes on the challenge of designing with using any animal materials.   The Israeli designer, educated at Eindhoven, conveys her respect for life and human rights by merging ethics and design in these objects.

Going beyond form: researching materials

Milan is a reflection of the current climate, in which the focus of innovation is changing from form to materials.  Materials are also design, and they have always played a part in interior design.  But now we want to get to the heart of things, to know what they are made of and to create new alternatives.  When it comes to experimentation with materials, Dutch designers are the big hitters.  One example is ‘Mutant Matter‘,  the collaboration between Dutch Invertuals with the famous studio FranklinTill, which takes a look at the materials of the future.

‘Wood in progress’, another reflection on the materials which tests the boundaries of the industry. Photo: Finsa.

To finish up, you can’t leave the city without seeing one of the classics: the gallery of Rossana Orlandi, one of the most famous design gurus in the world, who has welcomed more than 30 000 visitors to her 1 700 m2 space.   In 2018, it opened a new outdoor space with “Sense of guilt”, which was dedicated to recycling and sustainable design.  It’s also home to ‘Softwear‘, Google’s long-awaited debut in Milan, designed by Kiki van Eijk.  Materials and the Dutch yet again – without a doubt, the must-sees of the 2018 Salone del Mobile .


There are only 3 days left! Let the countdown begin…