Can we prepare a way out of the disaster?

No design show captures a cultural enthusiast quite like Milan’s annual Salone del Mobile. For 60 years, the design set has descended upon the northern Italian city, hungry to draw inspiration from an ever-expanding display of the new and the next.

While last year’s show offered some positive changes in the form of sustainability rules for exhibitors, we had mixed feelings as we made our way towards the global styling hub this year. The context for the event was the stuff of dystopian nightmares: a worsening climate crisis, political unrest, humanitarian disasters, wars in Europe, and skyrocketing inflation – all forcing us to question whether the world should become more iconic (and eye-catching). of water expensive) ) ​​Chairs.

Happily, though, we found something that surprised us—something that was well worth the time, fare, and hype: creative optimism.

IRL the energy was high, with exhibitors and attendees building on each other’s ingenuity. From conversations with up-and-coming Ukrainian designers who made the short-yet-dangerous-drive from Kiev to design leads from established behemoths, it was clear that the creative community wasn’t just gathering in Milan, it was was galvanizing.

Below are five trends from the show that capture the diverse response to these chaotic times and encourage us to question how we can prepare our way out of disaster.

[Photo: courtesy of the author]

the anti-new

In a revolutionary move by the design community, we saw the rejection of “The New”. Five years after Ikea’s then head of sustainability, Steve Howard, provocatively claimed that we “Peak StuffNow (finally!) we are seeing a mainstream design response. This year, we saw a profound response to the role of over-consumption and the climate crisis.

Traditionally, MDW has focused on new product launches, inspired by trends and fashion; A freak might say “new for new.”

Interestingly, we saw fewer launches even after the 2008 recession. Then, design brands opted to release new colorways rather than new designs due to economic pressures. The climate crisis could have a similar effect – forcing designers to re-evaluate release cycles in a world that consumes resources beyond their means.

In student exhibitions (free from the business realities of the design industry), active projects such as “The Big Assembly” by Goliath Diver presented designs in a world overflowing with things, showcasing the objects presented in new designs. The HSLU Lucerne School of Design took a bold approach by showcasing attention to the subject, displaying virtually nothing – as in the picture.

Miele, known for its passion for repair and sustainability (parts have been available for more than 15 years after the products have been discontinued) invited us to their “Longevity Lab”: a space that has grown into an exploded installation. Celebrated your spare parts on limited editions.

The Academy of Arts of Latvia created an installation with two weavers under the statement: “If you want to improve the world, start by fixing your socks.” In October 2020, 85% of Gen Z respondents in London said they have Repairing a Broken Possession During the previous year, compared to only 47% of those over 55. Is a renewed focus on longevity the key to unlocking the next generation of consumers?

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[Photo: courtesy of the author]

local mining

The origin of content is now an important consideration for both consumers and designers. As a result, designers are turning to waste streams to create new materials. Take of Fernando Laposse complex veneers made from Mexican corn bran, or Vegea Making cloth from the waste of the wine industry.

Many of these projects are experimental and struggle to become commercially viable, although this is changing. Santa Cruz-Based cruise foam It uses waste shellfish to make eco-foam and has recently announced Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher as major investors.

In Milan, we saw this trend as a new urgency. In times of scarcity of resources and collapsing supply chains, local waste materials have become an increasingly safe and attractive source.

The stone dust (usually an undisturbed side stream) was given a “lab room”, in which physical experiments were performed. SolidNature and Sabine Marselis, During this, e-waste The glossy glass tiles were hand-forged by Studio Plastics.

raising a relevant question of waste in the wake of the disaster, karma dabghiPresented by a professor at Lebanese American University”pieces of hopeA series of eight unique vases, hand-blown by artisans in Sarafand, southern Lebanon, using recycled glass from the 2020 Beirut port explosion.

Local projects have mainly focused on industrial waste streams, but this project has uncovered the untapped potential of waste generated by disasters and conflicts. Can it be used as a raw material to support communities and help them tell their stories?

meta nature

The metaverse continues to emerge as a place of exploration and refuge and a means of escapism from turbulent times. Interestingly, this year’s fair saw the digital aesthetic of the trend infiltrating physical spaces and objects, particularly within more immersive, 360-degree installations.

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[Photo: courtesy of the author]

One of the more successful examples was “A Life Extraordinary” by Dutch company Mooi and LG. The original, multisensory exhibition that took place online and IRL produced a hybrid aesthetic of an extraterrestrial world.

We saw strong surrealist influences in molten floors in Mooi, distorted realities in Glow Hypernova, and a mirrored cabinet in Whirlpool, which either provided an escape from reality or reflected the chaotic nature of our times.

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[Photo: courtesy of the author]

Continuing with the Surrealist theme, Stella McCartney explored psychedelic experiences in her performances. Visitors experience the trippy magic and beauty of mushrooms in an immersive mirrored room, illuminated by sculptures made from recycled materials and a soundscape created from the bioelectric signals of plants and mushrooms.

tech kinship

This week, one of Google’s own claimed that there is Ghost in the Machine, which (somewhat terrifyingly) echoes tech design trends in Milan. In reaction to the almost complete saturation of technology in our lives, we saw brands trying to create a softer edge and deeper meaning to our relationship with machines.

Tech adopted human-like forms and gestures; Ideo, LG and Moooi teamed up with choreographers to create a dancing scent diffuser called thread—A robot fled a Detroit car factory, asking if “there is more to life.” Piro gets polished and joins the Mooi Design House, living in a space filled with many other beautiful objects as it dances for joy.

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[Photo: courtesy of the author]

A collaboration between the students of Yamaha and Lausanne University of Art and Design (ÉCAL) Turnt up sound machines Which use technology to enhance the experience of playing with music. Personal interaction with music is now largely focused on the digital experience and lacking the warmth of physical rituals (think carrying your Walkman around or slipping a record out of its sleeve). We especially like Jison Chung’s wood-and-fabric “sound frame,” which senses objects placed within it and plays associated music.

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[Photo: Yamaha]

Appliance brands are claiming the smart home space by showcasing AI “helpers,” which demonstrate impressive functions to help us streamline home lives, with an awesome level of personality and ubiquity we haven’t seen before. was. A smart fridge wished us a pleasant evening with our South African Sauvignon Blanc.

Sensitive or not, these projects encourage us to question our relationship with technology. But it remains to be seen whether humanizing our gadgets with more human interfaces is a step in the right direction. Or should we instead demand more boundaries between us and our machines?

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[Photo: Electrolux]

home reclaim

During the pandemic, our homes assumed new meaning, turning into gyms, offices, schools and salons. But hours spent passionately cooking sourdoughs, teaching our kids to learn math, or desperately wanting a green plot have forever changed notions of “home sanctuary” from the way we live in our now. Not even related to personal space.

The disruptive effects of the pandemic created fertile ground for designers to cultivate progressive new home solutions. In Milan, we observed a wide range of explorations, including topics on future diet, aging populations, and cohorts.

The Ikea festival was a compelling example of this, with Ikea’s chief creative officer Markus Engmann saying, “It’s not about the stuff, it’s about the people.”

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[Photo: courtesy of the author]

The exhibition depicted the living conditions of three families and was based on a foundation of ethnography and meaningful human insight (collected from their thousands of home visits per year). We especially liked the playful representation of the first home—namely, a disco-reflecting bed. This reflected the research that often, in the first home, the bed represents the epicenter. It represents much more than a place to lay your head at night: serving as a desk, a social space or a dining table.

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[Photo: Electrolux]

Electrolux’s Grow Concept Kitchen was another highlight. The kitchen was designed to reflect the findings of a EAT-Lancet Report It determines what is the ultimate diet for a healthy planet. The kitchen ecosystem has been designed from the ground up to engage users in a more sustainable diet. For example, the fridge has been completely redesigned into modules aimed primarily at storing fruits and vegetables, with an integrated Nordic smoker to add flavor to plant-based meals.

feltrin de la miranda, meanwhile, showcased accessible furniture that will adapt to the foreseeable future of the owners. A hidden disassembly mechanism enables ergonomic adjustment of seat and rear height without compromising the aesthetics or durability of the beautifully crafted chair.

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