Top design trends
Nub bench seat by Patricia Urquiola. Pics supplied.
The Milan Furniture Fair, held every April, is arguably the most intense week on the design calendar. It's considered the absolute reference for everything design-related.
If your world is rocked by chairs, a great new lamp or an incredible statement piece that has a design name that's completely unpronounceable, this is the place to be.
It's the scene of frenzied trend spotting, where a huge amount of business is conducted, concepts are trialed and vast quantities of prosecco are consumed, and right about now furniture pieces that were seen at last year's fair are starting to trickle into Australian showrooms.
Bunky bed by Marc Newson for Magis. Pics supplied.
Chit chat at the endless cocktail parties were that softer, muted colour palettes – grown-up pastels that are breathing life into a space, with the added bonus of working brilliantly with natural furniture.
There are hints of 70's styling and loose upholstery, quilting and lots of raw finishes are all in, plus touches of old gold, pewter and bronze.
About the only flipside is the dominant colour of blue, from royal to cobolt to soft baby blue, it popped up on sofas, side tables and on London-based Australian designer Marc Newson's Bunky modular bunk bed (pictured) which is assembled in only four sturdy pieces, creating a smooth, moulded sleep space for kids.
Designers by and large, revealed thoughtful, well-considered pieces, championing natural materials - and manufacturing methods - where possible.
Timber, steel, glass, porcelain were all plentiful and the biggest look for finishes was in the form of marble. Marble rocks – it's official. The cool, veined, ethereal and tactile surface is being used to create baths, pendant lights, tables and stools.
Texture, simplicity and lightness of being are at the forefront of design, with natural materials and local, handcrafted products leading the charge.
Fundamental values, simplicity and the basics of design have designers exploring raw materials and drawing inspiration from the natural world. Wood, concrete and traditional crafts are all being explored, but with a twist.
Wood veneers are being seen in wafer-like strips, or being spun in to fabrics or layered to create curved, fluid shapes.
Concrete is being used, and is tactile and sensual not rough. It's now rippled and luminous, giving off a powerful sensuality.
Overall, there is more refinement in furniture, with many Danish classics – which will be forever timeless – are being re-worked.
The well-loved Arne Jacobsen designed Series 7 Chair is an example of this trend. Now released in a range of new woods and finishes. There's no doubt a beautifully formed chair has long excited design lovers.
The darling of the international design world, Patricia Urquiola (whose bench seat is shown here) continues weave her magic into everything she touches. Her refreshingly unconventional work combines feminine style with a minimalistic approach, often drawing on ethnic cultures to create her always-beautiful designs. If there are designs to follow, hers are leading the charge.
Lighting is uncovering a theme of bright visible cords and exposed bulbs. In fact, bulbs have evolved to become the centerpiece of many pendants and lamps – with manufacturers producing ever more elaborate and enlarged versions.
Clustering is another theme which continues to gain traction, either with a collection of exposed bulbs or pendants.
There seemed to be a return to traditional techniques, plus pieces that are made entirely of with eco-friendly materials. Extreme texture, felt chairs and knitted lamps, and printed and patterned surfaces are making their way onto tabletops and storage pieces and the addition of rope and woven details is popping up on furniture in unlikely places.
With many factors quietly reshaping our spaces and our priorities at home, whether it's a move to larger, shared areas, new ways at looking at work and play, or the need the 'nest' with more natural materials and colours, a desire for less clutter is ringing loud and clear.