I won. At least I think so. I managed to see approximately 85 of all the hundreds of events and installations at Milan Design Week – Fuorisalone. Here is an introduction. Colours etc will be published later…
Milan. This gargantuan monster of design week… The Italian city is filled with events and 2-300 000 people running around to find the perfect inspiration. The constant fear of missing something relevant and important.
Historically this design week has proven to be a feeding ground of new talents, aesthetics and brands. It is important. It is THE design event of the year. Everyone internationally refers to this design week in one way or another.
I managed to see 85 installations in five days. Well, almost a full day at the fair, but you get the timeline. And I count Alcova as one stop… It was a busy week. Did I see everything? Absolutely not. But the major part.
Everyone wants to be a trend hunter during a week like this. Looking for the right colours, shapes etc. But I think people forget the core. Do we have new behaviours?
A lot of brands were back this year. No more pandemic. Even large players like Google were back. They are not necessarily a design brand but want to be associated with the creativity during a week like this.
I must be honest. I struggle a lot with this design week. It gets very superficial. Is colour of the year green? Or blue? Or sand? Me running around these 85 events… Do I take these installations seriously or am I only running around trying to catch the latest trends? Are trends important? Can they even be seen here?
But design can be amazing. It is functionality and form. It is a problem solver. It is at design weeks like this we have talked about the co-working office, see how kitchens evolve, new materials and of course sustainability being discussed.
What are the most important questions of 2023? In general? Not only when it comes to design but everything? I would say sustainability, war, recession and diversity.
Noone talked about war. Not one.
I think the people addressing the remaining three areas are IKEA, Paula Navone and Danish gallery Tableau. Let me explain.
The players at the design week have learned that we are very interested in sustainable solutions and there are plenty of interesting examples in this field. Here Julia Huhnholx and Friedrich Gerlach that took disguarded brickstones, grounded it and made a paste for molding. Nice.
There are plenty of examples of sustainable solutions and that is good.
When it comes to recession – very little was seen. The premium brands were all over the city with new products. Almost all fashion brands did something. Hermes, Dior, Marni, Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, Dolce&Gabbana etc, etc.
IKEA did a manifestation and perhaps they weren’t really addressing recession but they hammer in their message of bringing design to the masses for a good price.
Noone else talked about price. In other conversations we constantly talk about the price for food and electricity – but not when it comes to a design week like this.
Paola Navone basically touched on the topic of price. Or should we call it “excess”? Navone decided to get rid of all the things in her studio and made a lottery. Get a number, pick up the object and choose if you want to keep it. Free of charge but you need a bit of luck.
POC-designer Stephen Burks made a super nice chair for Dedon but in general the design scene here is pale. And we don’t really talk about diversity… Outside of the design scene we all talk about representation in age, body sizes, skin colour and gender identity. But not really in Milan.
Out of my 85 stops, only one talked about this. Copenhagen based gallery Tableau have talked about difficult issues like mental health among men previous years and now for this week they invited us to a restaurant. Of course filled with nice objects but the food has presented on objects designed by quadrouple couple at Espace Aygo.
Everyone was invited to this feast.
If we should talk about trends, I think we absolutely see a thing where we talk about our tables. Who is sitting at our table and what is our table manners? How do we make someone feel welcome?
Sabine Marcelis at Solid Nature.
Faye Toogood at Maison Matisse.
So summary. Was it a good design week? I think so. I wish we could talk more about important questions and not only about nice things and “colour of the year”. I really hope we talk about recession next year.
But I give this week a 8 out of 10.