In Pt. I of the Milan Design Week: Trend Report I discussed material and color trends that broke the surface of both the Furniture Fair and the Brera Design District. But now we’ll move into some of the emerging cultural trends that have been under my radar.
As mentioned before, the trends are slower moving and are representative of changing consumer habits.
It is a known fact that there has been a re-densification of cities across the world and where there are more people, there is less space. Small space living has inspired lots of individuals to find interesting design innovations. For example, SCAD has recently launched ScadPAD, a collaboration between students, alumni and faculty to create a clever design solution to micro-housing needs, and famous artist Andrea Zittel has been designing ways to maximize small space for years!
Less space isn’t always a bad thing, but it does create a design problem that can only be solved with efficiency. The result is furniture that is not just dual-purpose, but multi-purpose, furniture that can evolve and convert a space from a bedroom into an office. But it isn’t just furniture in homes that is becoming multi-functional. It’s also office tables that can expand to seat twice as many people, or wheeled tables that enable spontaneous collaborations.
Furniture that can be modified in an instant is not only user friendly, it’s also conscious of the need to be able to transform a space. Multi-purpose and customizable furniture is essential to the future of product development as we continue to do more with less in our rapidly changing world.
How we use technology was a recurring theme throughout Milan Design Week. With an emphasis on technology and the ability to connect with diverse groups of individuals instantaneously has led to beautiful cross-disciplinary collaborations. It seemed like almost every showroom was highlighting a collaboration between their company and another group of creative individuals outside of their industry. Take into consideration Bolon’s collaboration with Alexander Eckman, a choreographer who developed a modern dance emulating the manufacturing process of Bolon’s woven floor coverings. Vitra’s showroom (always one to excite the senses) presented new and updated classics featuring work inspired by Alexander Girard and Ray and Charles Eames. One of my favorite showrooms at the Furniture Fair was SCP of London, a company that commissions furniture, ceramics and textiles from various London artists and designers to create collections for consumers that are both sophisticated and nationalistic. HAY, a Danish company, consistently collaborates with internationally known designers to produce playful furniture, lighting and textiles for their customers. And lastly, one of the most widely discussed collaborations was between Italian based company Citco and architect Zaha Hadid.
Collaborations are not new to the interior design industry, but the technology and resources that are making these collaborations so much easier definitely are. Companies such as WeWork or Mojo CoWorking are two of many that create forums for individuals from different industries to bench and collaborate with one another in a single, modern office space based on the concept of renting individual desk space. All of this new technology that allows us to stay connected constantly—for better or worse—means that companies can connect with employees located across the world to get the job done. These collaborations aren’t just happening in the working world either. The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) frequently pairs students with industry leaders to create unique classroom experiences as a part of their Collaborative Learning Center.
Whether it be for the development of a new product launch, a study on small living space or simply benching together in an open office, students and professionals alike are collaborating on a daily basis.
Everybody who’s anybody is doing it.
Now, looking through the lens of everything I saw at Milan Design Week, I am noticing these trends on an even larger scale and am eager to see if NYCxDesign and NeoCon will yield similar trends or offer new ideas all together.