Milan has often been called the “drinkable city,” but that sobriquet is never more apt than during Milan Design Week, the annual celebration of design and architecture that engulfs the Italian city each spring. Last week, thousands of brands and designers from around the world showed off their latest offerings at events, pop-ups, and showrooms throughout the design capital. Nearly a quarter of a million visitors, meanwhile, flooded the Salone del Mobile fair—an event that was back in full force after two years of cancellations and postponements.
With so much to take in—indeed, to drink in—ELLE DECOR editors were primed to seek out the latest interior design trends. We trekked across the city and the fair (with the step counts to prove it) to scout all things new, from the texture that will be on your next sofa to the tint you’ll soon have on your apartment walls. If the last few years were all about creature comforts as the pandemic raged outside our homes, this year is about a desire for being transported—to a different era, to a different country, or even just to the outdoors. Whatever you seek, be sure to get it while it’s hot.
If you’re suffering from bouclé fatigue—that nubby textile that migrated from Chanel jackets to everyone’s sofas these last few years—you’re in luck: at this year’s Milan Design Week, we spotted refreshing updates on the fabric both on the Salone del Mobile floor and at satellite events throughout the city. Bouclé’s most notable reincarnation was a color-based one, moving from that off-white that dominated our Insta feeds, to bolder, nature-inspired hues—think a mossy green at the Italian brand Arflex, rust-brown at the Dutch company Montis, and gold at Saba. Then there were cozy, new variations on the texture itself, beyond the usual loopy pile, including waffle-y chenille, soft mohair, luxurious cashmere, and menswear-inspired tweeds. The perfect encapsulation of the look was at the Italian company Fratelli Boffi’s booth. Dare we say it’s just the right touch?
We were happy to reveal that wall-to-wall carpet is having a moment. But if you found that trend to be surprising, buckle up for the Milan debuts: Not only is carpeting back, but it’s gotten brighter, bolder, and—yes—shaggier. We first spotted the trend at filmmaker and designer Luca Guadagnino’s installation at Milan’s Spazio RT. Guadagnino’s team worked alongside Northern Irish graphic designer Nigel Peake to create collagelike, primary-colored wool and silk carpets—an aesthetic Guadagnino termed “a bit rock-and-roll” in a press release. Across town at Alcova, designer Leo Rydell Jost unveiled similarly exuberant carpets in super-saturated swirls of gold, violet, and crimson.
But color was just the start: Companies revealed rugs that were funkier—and fluffier—than your standard offerings. Also at Alcova, Beni Rugs presented a collab with stylist Colin King, a shaggy collection in mustard and cream hues. At the fair, CC-Tapis notably showed off a hand-knotted rug, designed by Duccio Maria Gambi, with a varied Himalayan wool pile that resembles a ring of plush forest moss. Belgian company Evolution21 also played with pile; its handwoven carpets featured pleasing patches of “floof” that reminded us of soft sea anemones growing from the floor.
Legs for Days
Table and chair legs, sometimes an afterthought, are now making a statement, adding an almost-hidden layer of visual interest to these pieces. Poltrona Frau’s limited-edition Archibald seat—a collaboration with the masked Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone—paired a striking iridescent frame with color-blocked leather upholstery, while Atelier Oï took inspiration from a Roman palazzo’s arches for the Metropolis table’s legs at the new Fendi Casa outpost. Elsewhere, at SaloneSatellite—the trade fair’s spotlight on emerging designers—Mexican duo Design VA unveiled Walky, a series of playful seats with anthropomorphic wooden “shoes” for feet. Also at Satellite, Design Week Lagos showcased work from Olufisayo Bakare, including a colorful salvaged wood stool with a leg carved into the shape of a bird—a rendering of the mythical Benin bird of prophecy.
Far East Movement
Interest in Japan’s design sensibilities is at an all-time high, even as the country remains largely closed off to foreign visitors. Cassina upholstered its Soriana armchair in Japanese denim for a limited-edition run of the reissue, and AB Concept teamed up with Calico Wallpaper to create Forest of Reflection, a serene wallcovering collection inspired by the changing seasons of the Japanese Alps. Meanwhile, at the fair, Duravit and Sebastian Herkner channeled Japan’s more minimalist aesthetics in its Zencha bathroom collection. The square-shaped soaking tub, a real standout of the collaboration, was inspired by the serenity and ritual of Japanese tea ceremonies.
Like what you see in the mirror? Good, because Salone was all about reflections this year. At Nilufar Gallery, French-Lebanese designer Flavie Audi showed her sculptural mirrors, complete with colorful resin moths embedded in the frame; Tom Dixon brought reflections galore at Palazzo Serbelloni, where the British designer celebrated his brand’s 20th anniversary with a chromed-out Mirror Ball chandelier. Even Dior took some time to reflect (so to speak) this year, relaunching its classic Medallion chair with a shiny new look courtesy of Philippe Starck.
Customizable Cocktail Tables
The modular sofa has become the seat du jour at Salone and beyond, with nearly every major brand launching another take on the ever-customizable design year after year. Now cocktail tables have become just as personalized, with new offerings designed to be layered together in multiples. Some of our favorites included B&B Italia’s Planck line, which brings color and fun to the living room, and Porada’s Callisto marble nesting tables, which resemble a stone mosaic when styled together. Luca Guadagnino Studio put a different, more architectural spin on the trend with its jigsaw puzzle–like red travertine and black granite cocktail tables, and Molteni&C created more subtle layers with its curvy Cleo collection.
OK, OK—we realize that we’ve covered the green trend many times at ELLE DECOR, and judging by the offerings at Milan Design Week, it’s clear that this trend isn’t going anywhere soon, from lime-green seating in Paul Smith’s collab with De Padova to the poison-green spritzes served at Pin-Up magazine’s Design Week bash. However, we noticed a very particular sub-trend amid emerald everything: pale green. “It’s moved beyond the forest green we saw a lot of in the recent past. It’s more faded,” New York designer Josh Greene (appropriately) told us. “Sometimes I call it conifer; sometimes it’s called alpine.” He noticed it in everything from Luke Edward Hall’s fabrics for Rubelli to upholstered pieces at Kartell—“not to mention in terrazzo floors and marbles all around Milan,” he added.
We also noticed this punchier, mintier hue in Spanish outdoor brand iSiMAR’s pale green outdoor furniture, Connubia’s seafoam seating, and Swarovski’s celadon table settings with Rosenthal. Pale green might even supplant the ubiquitous forest green kitchen, as shown in Samsung’s fair booth. The trend seemed to reference a collective need to reconnect with nature, a current that Salone del Mobile’s president, Maria Porro, has seen rise to the fore. “The border between indoor and outdoor is no longer important—probably because we suffered so much [these last two years],” Porro told us. “It’s about the beauty and design of the product, but it’s also what’s behind it.”
That ’70s Show
After nearly two years stuck at home, designers were ready to go out—and it showed in the offerings throughout Milan Design Week. Gone were the cartoon-y, Memphis-inspired shapes and colors; in their place we noticed low-slung, come-hither furnishings that channeled disco, Halston, and sexy ’70s-era design. DimoreStudio, in particular, embraced the era in its presentations at its DimoreMilano space (think leopard-print carpet, smoked glass, and gleaming chrome), and a rooftop tableau at Buccellati’s headquarters included, among other delightful elements, evocative details like fringe, ferns, and ashtrays. “We’re really mining the 1970s,” Dimorestudio cofounder Britt Moran told us, in particular the work of Italian greats like Gae Aulenti. And the fixation with the decade didn’t stop with Dimore: Lee Broom released a series of six light fixtures that took inspiration from the divine as well as Brutalist architecture; Sé Studio revealed a disco-themed room (complete with a geodesic disco-ball light fixture) at the Milan powerhouse design gallery Rossana Orlandi. At the fair, Baxter’s booth was stuffed with curved, low-rise furnishings in hues like gray and aubergine, and at Dior’s garden party, the ’70s were literally in the air thanks to the funky Italo soundtrack.
There’s no question about it: Unique stone surfaces are trending in a major way throughout the home, as we’ve seen in the magazine, observed at last year’s Milan Design Week, and predicted in our 2022 kitchen report. The next big thing in stone? Color. And lots of it. The clearest-cut (no pun intended) example of this was at Alcova, where the natural stone company SolidNature took over the bottom level of a former industrial laundry facility with a collaboration between OMA and fellow Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis. The exhibition’s candy-colored archway, made from nine different slabs of polychromatic onyx, became one of the most Instagrammed items of the week. Marcelis showcased an entire bathroom suite carved from the palest pink onyx, a delightfully contemporary take on the 1950s bathroom hue. OMA contributed, in addition to a stone (yes) bed, a breathtaking bookcase, made from Satin Verde marble, with shelves in a striated onyx with veins of gray and tangerine. The exhibition made clear that stone needn’t be just a surface, but a venue for experimentation—and also a status symbol.
Anna Fixsen, Deputy Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how to share the best of the design world through in-depth reportage and online storytelling. Prior to joining the staff, she has held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record magazines. elledecor.com