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What's New in Design? Highlights from Milan 2024


26th April 2024

As the Oscars of the interiors world, the eyes of Europe’s design scene were once again firmly fixed on Milan Design Week as the source of inspiration and innovation. For over 62 years, it has been a week that brings together the industry’s very best, acting as a catalyst for global design trends across interiors, fashion, automotive and beyond – and this year’s show was bigger and better (and more exhausting!) than ever before. With a record 361,417 visitors from around the world, the show gave centre stage to the outrageous and daring as well as heralding genuine innovators and sector disruptors. Fair to say, it did not disappoint.

Milan Design Week is always a glorious melting pot of ideas and inspiration; the epicentre of future thinking. We share our top trends from the show.

Circular Thinking

This year’s show placed a greater emphasis on sustainability and technological innovation – readdressing how humans and the planet interact. With Fuorisalone 2024’s theme as ‘Materia Natura’, it was unsurprising we saw a host of new biomaterials, recycled and re-used components and an increased focus of the crucial importance of water conservation within manufacturing processes and usage.

Cosentino’s collaboration with renowned research-based design duo Formafantasma, reimagined the future of sustainable surfaces in an immersive installation. EARTHIC LAB, its new sustainability platform, looks at designing from the inside out placing greater emphasis on production processes than mere aesthetic. Its new EARTHIC® collection includes pioneering resin made from used cooking oil, recycled glass and fragments of discarded Dekton pieces, not to mention being made from 100% renewable energy and 99% reused water. Arper unveiled a new version of its iconic Catifa chair in collaboration with PaperShell – featuring a new composite wood by-product that reduces its environmental impact by sequestering carbon dioxide. Or look to Brera Botanical Gardens which were transformed by Carlo Ratti Associati and global energy company ENI. Showcasing the different uses of rice, the “sunRICE” installation featured a series of geometric units crafted from rice husks, a byproduct usually discarded during rice processing.

We enjoyed the “Under the Surface” installation at the International Bathroom Exhibition, designed by Emiliano Ponzi and Design Group Italia, which invited us to reflect on the impact of our individual choices on the future. Shedding light on the health of global water resources, it aimed to highlight the bathroom sector’s commitment to identifying innovative conservation solutions in design. A mantle that was picked up by several brands within the bathroom and kitchen sector, including Quooker – the boiling water tap brand with a conscience. Whose raison d’etre is to preserve the precious natural resource of water by only dispensing the exact amount of water needed without having to wait or waste water.

A revival of warmer tones

We are delighted that the 1970s had a major revival in Milan. Think a return of burnt orange, terracotta, burgundy and chocolate browns. A sophisticated nod to Art Deco craftsmanship, these rich shades permeated across the city. Just look to Guuci’s exhibition, under the leadership of its new creative director Sabato De Sarno, that re-issued five Italian design classics in the signature ‘Rosso Ancora’ red. Or perhaps Zanotta’s new Z24 series which debuted at the show, standing boldly as a furniture range in flaming orange. Designers were certainly not shy in their use of colour.

Warm, grounded, humble – there was an evident shift to more authentic shades. Green, in all its tones, dominated the palettes of designers and architects. From sage to emerald, there was a clear preference for earthier tones that evoke tranquillity and calm. Helped by the ever increasing popularity of biophilic design, the joy of bringing natural elements inside, it was interesting to see these new neutrals in play.

Through the looking glass – a spotlight on key materials and textures

We were excited to see glass being reimagined as a material that combines the architectural with the artistic. It was interesting to see brands interact creatively with this material in new ways. We escaped the bustle of the city in Lasvit’s Porta installation – designed by its Art Director Maxim Velcovsky, the Bohemian artisan leader in hand-made glassmaking. With an aim of redefining the relationship between glass and architecture, Lasvit’s glass portals played with fusing glass techniques to bring beauty to traditionally structural elements.

The raw beauty of stone and marble was on display in the best ways. The stand out Mistral table with heavily veined marble top designed by Danielli Studio for Giorgetti married the sculptural beauty of stone with architectural elements to create a dining space to die for. Or V-ZUG’s inaugural Milan showroom designed by Italian architect Elisa Ossino – that effortlessly weaved its appliances throughout the space full of natural stone.

When it comes to texture, fluted and grooved furniture was everywhere. Be it in bathroom vanity units, kitchen islands or side tables, it was out with the smooth and in with the tactile. We particularly enjoyed Cesar’s collaboration with Garcia Cumini studio, exploring textures outside of traditional kitchen design.

We also noticed the heavy textures coming into the bathroom space. Look for example to the ornate decorative and heavily knurled handles from GRAFF’s new Wellness Shower collection.

The rise of organic curves

This year’s show was dominated by soft curves and organic shapes. In furniture, in ceramics, in lighting, in brassware – even in the brand stand displays at Salone del Mobile itself – softer shapes replaced the harsher, cleaner geometric lines seen in recent years. From Poltrona Frau’s voluptuous armchair in collaboration with British designer Faye Toogood or studiopepe’s Silos collection of curved tables, designs were softer to touch and on the eye.

Café society – community spaces

It was interesting to see the increase in product designs that were made with the sole purpose of bringing people together. Modular furniture playfully designed evidenced this growing desire for connectivity. From smaller four-person day beds to larger installations from the likes of Sabine Marcelis and CLOUD collaborating for the Saudia Arabia’s design Space AIUIa inspiring guests to lounge together on modular seating. Numerous kitchen brands also followed suit, showcasing re-interpreted kitchens for social interaction rather than just cooking.

AI and smart appliances

Where design and technology collide. This year’s show played host to more big tech companies than ever before. From Google’s ‘Making Sense of Colour’ installation exploring how colour and sound seamlessly interacted with each other, to Samsung’s ‘Newfound Equilibrium’ which explored the dynamic between humans and technology.
Brand launches and installations explored the theme of how technology connects and simplifies. From optimising food preparation and storage to streamlining heating systems that react to individual body temperatures and offer data-driven solutions to personalise our living spaces.

We explored Samsung’s new ecosystem of intelligent and connected devices including washing machines, fridges and ovens, capable of understanding our habits and making light work of household chores. Haier’s Bionicook technology launched its new camera that recognises food types, advises on recipes and allows for remote cooking via its app.

We were particularly interested in the increasing amounts of smart appliances and the connected home. Gaggenau’s ‘Elevation of Gravity’ installation showcased its latest induction innovation with Dekton – a worktop and cooktop combined into one. Its technology is seamlessly integrated within the stone, distilled to a dot on the worktop surface.
We’re excited to see how AI and the race for truly integrated smart appliances will transform our homes in the future.


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