Milan Design Week: Inspiration and Trends

Kari Pei

Milan Design Week 2016. A feast for the designer’s eye and a great time to soak up all sorts of inspiration and new design trends.

This year at Salone Mobile, I saw a playful, ‘70s’ influence throughout furniture and accessories, but modernized and spiced up with new twist on scale, shine and texture. A combination of metallic and matte surfaces, rounded corners and sleek Ming style influences dominated the show. Woven looks showed up frequently in seats, backs, canopies and bags, in everything from wide bands to thin strips of twine.

Milan Design Week

Furniture and accessories with a playful ’70’s influence, modernized and spiced up with a new twist.

Privacy cocooning was also prevalent through an abundance of canopy/winged chairs for one or more. Combined with oversized objects; including lamps and planters, the whimsy was underscored. Drawing even more emphasis on the adolescent themes were the many objects from a ‘70’s childhood made adult by gold plating.

Milan Design Week

Privacy cocooning combined with oversized objects add to the whimsical theme.

Giant plants and an abundance of foliage dominated the scene, lending support to the benefits of biophilic design. These indoor plants were often paired with furniture normally designed for the outdoors, like a picnic table lowered and made into an office coffee table, an interesting way to cultivate more of the “I’m really outside” mentality.

Milan Design Week

Giant plants and an abundance of foliage lend support to the benefits of biophilic design.

And the colors? I’d narrow them down to three distinct themes: the Dutch Masters, Giorgio Morandi and super brights with muted neutrals.

Milan Design Week

A variety of colors from super brights to muted neutrals.

Of course I snapped thousands of photos to capture all of the inspiring design during Milan Design Week, but my favorites are up on our Pinterest board. Take a peek below.

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A Love Letter to Nature


Dear Nature,

We didn’t always love you the way we do now. In fact for our first 21 years, we didn’t even realize how intrinsically we were connected to you. We didn’t know that our every action affects you. But then we were awakened, and we fell so deeply in love with you that others called us crazy. And our love for you transformed every aspect of ourselves – how we operate, how we make decisions – even our purpose. After all, how can a business be successful if it is harming you, the source of our life support system?

clouds in nature

Nature, do you remember the first time we came seeking your inspiration? We put aside our brash belief that we could solve every problem by ourselves, and we asked for your guidance. Admiring the beautiful and chaotic floors of your forests and meadows, we let go of our need to make every tile identical, and we embraced the untapped power of diversity. The world loved your innovative solution too.

Now here we are, decades into our love affair, and we are still learning from you—how your patterns can heal us, how your models can guide us. And we believe that reconnecting with our love for you will not only lead us to more circular systems, but also help us become healthier and more productive too. How amazing to learn that spending time with you, or in spaces designed to be evocative of you, may result in reduced stress levels, faster healing rates, and improved cognitive functioning!

room with nature light

We are finally learning from your generosity and asking ourselves what it would mean for us to be generous too. How could we contribute to spaces that facilitate wellbeing? How could our factories replenish your ecosystems? We are striving to be more like you and know we need your guidance now more than ever.

With love,

Fall back in love with nature and join the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge. Sign up here!

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Designing With Color: Turquoise


Evoking scenes from the Mediterranean to the American southwest, turquoise can take your designs into uncharted territory. This infographic will equip you with theory and techniques for your journey.

turquoise color

In the turquoise family, aquamarine provides a feeling of serenity and calm. Each aqua shade works harmoniously with one another and shades of cool grey highlight and accompany the palette. Interior products have embraced this color theme and team well with soft structured textiles, subtle lines are subtle patterns.

turquoise palette

Find more inspiration on our turquoise Pinterest board:


HGTV Color Guide
2010 Color of the Year, Pantone 15-5519 Turquoise
Talking Turquoise
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Designing With Color: Neutrals


Color choice can evoke mood, communicate subtle messages—even boost productivity. Where warm colors excite and cooler hues are calming, neutrals can provide a canvas for either, giving designers a wide array of options.

neutral color infographic

Most people perceive neutral shades as “subdued” or “reserved”— more subtle than attention-getting blues and reds. Neutrals often connote stability, especially the cooler greys. Imagine the solid feel of stone or concrete. Depending on what’s around them, some neutrals (like beige) are chameleons, taking on characteristics of neighboring warm or cool colors.

Follow Interface’s board Colour | Warm Neutral on Pinterest.

Neutral colors evoke different types of moods. Using a grey palette can lend an air of formality to an environment. Depending on execution, it may suggest confidence or conservatism. Lighter greys and off-whites can be a good choice when you want a look that’s fresh, clean, refined. If a calm, relaxed vibe is desired, neutrals with warmer hints from the orange or yellow family may do the trick. At the cool end of the spectrum, notes of blue add an air of elegance, especially the darker hues.

Follow Interface’s board Colour | Cool Neutral on Pinterest.

To aid concentration and reduce eye-strain in a work environment, choose neutrals as a base and add narrow accents in brighter colors. Use neutrals as the foundation when designing around colorful furniture or accent walls. Neutrals in the darker grey family can form a sophisticated backdrop if not overused. Mood-lighteners may include whites, warm hues or both. Warmer-temperature neutrals (taupe, ecru) impart the organic feel of the natural world. Use them to instill a space with calm and quietude.

neutrals installations

Use neutrals to instill a space with calm and quietude.

The neutral color trend shown in this palette is calming and peaceful. Shades are chalky and light in texture, creating a watercolor effect and resulting in colors blending and merging together. Neutral colors may be used in a tonal manor. In commercial spaces, neutrals can flood fill or zone off particular areas.

tinted neutrals collage

Neutral Color Symbolism
About Beige
Can’t Focus? Your Office Paint Color Might Be To Blame
Decorating With Neutrals
Gray Color Meaning
Wikipedia article on Grey
Warm Grey vs. Cool Grey
The Hidden Power of Neutrals
Interface’s Design With Purpose blog
Neutral Color Schemes & Neutral Paint Colors: How To Put Neutral Color Palettes Together


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Design Trends Found at Stockholm Furniture Fair


We’re always on the look-out for the latest design trends, and we found a lot during the month of February at Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair. This trade fair is the world’s largest event for Scandinavian furniture and lighting design. It’s a creative hub to showcase future trends, new concepts and the latest innovative ideas in design.

Stockholm trends

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair is the largest event for Scandinavian furniture and lighting design.

Trend Spotting
Our own designers Natalie and Lynda with concept designer Josefin walked the length and breadth of the halls to discover the latest design trends in commercial interiors.

Opulence was a prominent theme throughout the fair, with lots of metallics on display in warm palettes of gold and copper. The trend was applied to accessories ranging from vases and bowls to light fittings. The grouping of metallic items enhanced this luxurious look, with surface pattern kept to a minimum with smooth and brushed finishes. Designers showcasing this trend included KH, Per Söderberg and Tom Dixon.

In contrast to the glamour of opulence, another big design trend was the Pantone Colour of the Year: Rose Quartz and Serenity. These two colours were everywhere, from office furniture to accessories to lighting and flooring. Brands like Standard Issue by Frank and Massproductions used the trend to colour block products and create bold interiors.

Pantone color trend

The Pantone Colours of the Year (Rose Quartz and Serenity) were everywhere, from office furniture to flooring.

Grey tones and coal were a huge hit. Neutral greys and black coal are embedded into the Scandinavian design scene and are still very current, with a trend for progressively darker tones emerging. Friends and Founders and String used multitudes of monochrome black and grey in their interiors, with black as a contrasting colour within pastel interiors.

design trends

Neutral greys and black coals were spotted, along with tonal colours and craftsman themes.

Craftsmanship was another common theme, with brands showing raw materials and highlighting the design process within their displays.

Around the show, the design team reported the use of tonal colours being applied to products. A great example of this was Randers + Radius‘ seating series, which ranged from matt black to dusty light blue to light sandy grey. Textiles and textures were used to create cosy interiors with an emphasis on rugs to zone flooring and the application of layering and detail to throws, cushions and screens.

Follow Interface’s board Event | Stockholm Furniture Fair on Pinterest.

Inspiring Our Guests
Our Interface stand was positioned amongst influential and trend setting brands including industrial designer Tom Dixon and Danish furniture and accessories brand Hay. The stand attracted visitors from across Scandinavia, Europe and the Far East.

Some of the most popular features at our colourful stand were the inspiration boards created by Interface concept designer, Josefin Carne. The eight mood-boards of differing colour palettes were displayed around the stand and featured tactile elements for visitors to touch and feel. The boards sparked lots of discussion and positive feedback.

inspiration boards

Inspiration boards created by concept designer Josefin Carne.

“The boards show how well our products work together and with other materials such as ceramic tiles and fabrics. In interior design, the carpet is never alone; a mix of colours and textures are essential to create a wellbeing environment,” said Josefin.

Learning From Nature
In addition to design trends research and inspiration, we kicked off the week by hosting a press event with Exploration Architecture’s biomimicry expert Michael Pawlyn and discussed how we can build a world of sustainable beauty by learning from nature. Michael continued his program across three events throughout the design week. He also spoke at the Interface showroom in Stockholm’s design district about the ways biomimicry is being applied to create innovative architecture.

Sustainable Eating
No show is complete without food! The Scandinavian Interface marketing team ensured the visitors were nourished throughout the show by collaborating with local food producer Oumph! to serve lunch every day. Oumph! is a clever new plant-based ingredient with a similar texture to meat. It’s the company’s mission to decrease their climate impact, whilst increasing health for their customers – a sustainable mission we fully support.

Report supplied by our European marketing team

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