My inspiring city Milan


Every April I'm very excited to visit Milan. I think this is not only to me, but I'm sure also to many design lovers. There is a massive exhibition, Salone del Mobile, in which you can see all the furniture and lighting brands, and there are more than 1000 events in downtown Milan, Fuorisalone, for one week. Milan turns to the big design party venue. I love the vibrant atmosphere of this city. This time was my fourth visit to Milan, and I made a very tight schedule compared to from previous visits. However, with some of the variables, it wasn't able to get everything done. Although I rushed around all days, I had to admit that no enough time to do everything that I planned. There are some venues that I had to wait in a long queue like Nendo and Cos which I've never experienced before. It was a pity that I missed so many venues because of the short period of my trip. Nevertheless, I heartily enjoyed Milan design week, and it's still my best source of inspiration. Waiting for the next year, I'd like to look back now at those inspiring moments in Milan. Everything is so different and unique, but at the big picture, I'll summarize it as following five big themes.




Audacious approach to color & pattern

There was a lot of space directing reminiscent of one of the iconic design furniture, Carlton bookcase designed by Ettore Sottsass. It has a predominant feature which is bold geometric shape, bright multi-color, and confetti-like Memphis pattern.

One of my very first visits was to Super Design Show in Tortona and TIME TO COLOR was its theme. With full of vibrant colors, I could feel a positive energy and sheer delight.


Pink power was still very popular throughout Milan design week. I saw many places like Luis Barragán's architecture. Luis Barragán is a Mexican architect who painted modernism pink. He was not afraid to mix vibrant colors boldly like pink, yellow, orange, and blue together.


The Visit styled by Studio Pepe in Brera was an apartment that mixed earthy colors and jewel tones such as dusty pink, terracotta, sand, ochre, cinnamon, peacock green, and ruby red, harmoniously like Mondrian canvas in the walls. It introduced rich but also subtle color scheme and worked brilliantly with a minimal design concept. It was a human-scaled apartment that's why I felt very homey and would like to apply the sense of color into my place. There were also well-selected furniture and objects at the moment.


Another hidden place in Brera was Dimore gallery. That place was mostly filled with dusty pink and maximized colors and patterns with vintage or Art Deco inspired objects, while furniture and lighting are simply bold and sculptural.


Marni was one of the best spots as usual. This time their theme was Playland. My shoes were totally messed up by pink sand, but it was worth to visit. The furniture and toys are handcrafted from metal, painted wood and woven colored PVC cord in Columbia. I really wanted to bring one of them to my house. 


 Bar luce directed by Wes Anderson is not a part of the design week but also affiliated with this theme. Wes Anderson is a film director, and his films are known for their distinctive visual and narrative style. You might know his recent work, The Grand Budapest Hotel. The bar was very minty and pinky and filled with full of Fornasetti like patterns; even the floor was finished with terrazzo to obtain an abundance of patterns.


Marble is still loved because of its beautiful veins, and it makes anything instantly luxury and opulent. I'm sure that it will continue for a long time. But I see that terrazzo is also getting popular and it gives a bit more unique and also quirky sense depends on the combination. Terrazzo is a composite material which means it has a base and particles. Traditionally particles are marble or other stones, but they have been replaced by such as recycled glass, sea shells, or other items. I'm quite obsessed with grey terrazzo with larger particles and would like to use this for the future projects. Luckily I found a very nice grey one in the Ornament showroom by chance. I think it's quite loud but also gets along with the current minimal, sleek furniture trend.


There are lots of bold attempts at the carpet as well like Desso and Moooi


The colors and patterns of space were rich and loud, by contrast,  furniture and lighting were extremely thin, minimal, geometric and bold. To achieve the minimal design, metal or glass were used more as finishing materials than wood.





Minimal furniture & lighting


Nowadays lighting seems like be used as an object but still has an essential function as a source of light. I could see a lot of beautiful lights in Spazio Krizia. All the lightings were very slender, and people appreciated the beauty of lighting features like art pieces.


There were numerous minimal sculptural lights which have mostly represented as Michael Anastrassiades's style, thin metal tubes, and opaline spheres. This year, Michael Anastrassiades created the geometric linear module series without spheres for flos. I am seeing more lightings that have super clean lines and extreme simple structures. Meanwhile, there were also dramatic lighting features, and bronze was the key material to maximize elegance.


I really liked the blind shape of lighting from Vibia. It combined direct light and diffused vertical light. With fabric dividers, it made the space really cozy and soft.


It's hard to define the interior trends in a word, but I see overall furniture and lighting are more and more geometric shaped, clean-lined, minimal and sculptural.

In recent years there has been increased attention to the Art Deco style shapes and motifs, and the geometric, Memphis inspired trend has reached its golden days. Also, we’re going to see more sculptural, non-rectangular organic shapes.



Japanese designers'  predominance stood out. There was a long queue all the time in front of the venue of Jil Sander showroom collaborated with Nendo, and Tokujin Yoshioka worked with LG and also presented his new collection for glas Italia. Japanese design is very minimal but also there is something very poetic inside. It was a pity; I couldn't get into Nendo's place this time. I've never had such a long queue through Milan design week so far. I think that it shows how much people are fascinated by Japanese design spirit at the moment.



ZEN motif


Bamboo bar in Armani Hotel recalled Zen-inspired design to my mind at the beginning of my Milan trip. I found lots of modernized Zen themes such as dark timber screen, horizontal, - I think this is more modern mood-, and vertical, maple trees, and low seatings. The color palette is composed of a bit darker shades which made a calm and relaxed atmosphere.




Green &Green, Indoor Garden


My very first visit to a hanging indoor garden was Neni restaurant in Berlin. It was about the time that I could easily find the hanging pots in cafes and shops. However, Neni was the first place that I saw a kind of indoor glasshouse with hanging plants garden. It was a definitely different experience having meals under the green, and I felt I was seating in somewhere between indoor and outdoor. I could see a lot of beautiful indoor green decorations through the Milan design week.


I can't say that indoor garden is a new trend as greenery has been for a long time in our places. It has become more and more luxuriant and exotic. You can quickly bring urban jungle mood in your home by adopting tropical plant pots or only leaves such as pan palm, bird of paradise and Monstera deliciosa. If you are not confident to grow plants, you can bring that mood with palm tree-patterned wallpaper or soft furnishing. Or you can also consider preserved plant frames that you need 0% care from style greenREM atelier designed a light box which contains a three-dimensional, layered depiction of a banana plant pot. Of course, it is a photographic representation which means no water needed and it will live forever.


Outdoor furniture brand Roda presented their pavilion like an outdoor garden. The place was obviously indoor. However, they made a long bench with trees in the middle of the space then arranged their furniture beside of the bench. I loved this concept much because this arrangement made the atmosphere very casual and there were no awkward moments to sit on the bench and take a break, even you were alone in a crowd. I stopped here to rest under the trees during the long day in Salone Mobile.





Light + Polycarbonate panels

Personally, polycarbonate panels kept catching my eyes. Because I used polycarbonate panels as the main material for one of my late projects and I've learned that it's not easy to achieve an aesthetic effect with them. The most important aspect is its translucent character, and it would create an amazing effect when it comes with a light source underneath or through it.


There was a massive usage of polycarbonate panels in a very modern way in Fondazione Prada. Panels used for an exterior and interior cladding and I think it is a smart choice also aesthetically pleasing.


I loved knoll's pavilion facade design that combined backlit and front neon sign. Roda chose orange colored corrugated panels for their pavilion, and I'd like to clap for it. With green leaves trees, space was very energetic and vibrant like the sunset of Miami Beach.


What were your favorite parts of Milan design week? And Where were you inspired the most?

I'd like to listen to your story as well.