Smile Plastics x ACAD. Image courtesy of ACAD

Milan Design Week was back with a bang this month, with the global design industry flocking in their droves (260,000+ of them!) to the Italian city for a week of intense inspiration.

Said to have felt busier than before the pandemic, with visitors displaying a renewed appreciation for being able to view new products and materials up close and personal once again, it seems trade exhibitions are most definitely here for the foreseeable future.

Having kept our eyes firmly fixed on the event coverage, we’ve highlighted our top themes from the show to help support your research for upcoming projects.

Shine on: Metallics

Image courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano – Salone Satellite – Ludovica Mangini
Image courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano – Salone Satellite – Ludovica Mangini

In a slight departure from the soft, comforting forms that have proven so popular in the post-pandemic interior landscape, metallics saw a resurgence at this year’s Milan Design Week.

Tom Dixon’s Twenty exhibition commemorated twenty years since the inception of his studio and showcased a contemporary twist on some of his most well-loved collections including the metallic Melt and Mirror Ball. Meanwhile, Chanel Kapitanj exhibited her Metal Armchairs at Salone Satellite, juxtaposing a fine metallic mesh with solid, cylindrical metal armrests - the finished piece being a true sight to behold.

When it comes to the influence of metal on upcoming design trends, it certainly seems to be weighing heavy.

Bold is beautiful: Playfulness & adaptability

Image courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano – Diego Ravier
Image courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano – Diego Ravier

Though metallics made a strong statement at Milan this year, rounded, organic forms with playful design elements remained a firm favourite amongst brands. They especially featured in relation to solutions for office and homeworking - merging residential and workplace schemes to offer adaptability and complete flexibility through comfortable design, and modular pieces. Bohinc Studio exhibited its curvaceous Derriere Armchair and Peaches Pouffe in new ‘it colour’ orange-tinted red.

While taking a slightly different approach to plumping up its furniture, A Lot Of Brasil chose a chunky knitted effect for its Underconstruction Sofa by Pedro Franco Design in collaboration with Texion Textil. Offsetting its supersized structure is a calming white colour palette, which makes the piece feel ethereal and dream-like. Large enough for conversation or to facilitate individual moments of quiet contemplation, it’s a seating option built with modern spaces in mind.

Celebrating & protecting our great outdoors: Nature-inspired

Image courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano – Luca Fiammenghi
Image courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano – Luca Fiammenghi

Unsurprisingly, with the impact of the climate crisis paired with us spending so much time outdoors over the last two years, the influence of nature on our interior design has yet to wane – both in a responsibility and aesthetic sense. Mario Cucinella’s Design With Nature installation – which formed the centrepiece of this year’s Salone del Mobile – comprised a ‘virtuous ecosystem representing the future of the way we live’.

For its immersive Caffe Populaire installation, DWA Design Studio invited guests to gather at a circular garden table, with overhead chandelier composition by Lambert & Fils, and surrounding lush foliage planted by Verde Officina – a stunning example of the current interchangeable nature of designing aesthetically for indoor/outdoor spaces.

Reimagining ‘waste’: Reuse, reduce, recycle

Image courtesy of ACAD
Image courtesy of ACAD

With sustainability rightly playing a key role in this year’s festival, many opted for reduce, reuse and recycling methods. At Alcova, Otherside Objects, presented its wooden loungers made from salvaged material – also reflecting the trend for comforting curved furniture shapes. And in a feat of sheer ingenuity, Studio RDD unveiled a way to repurpose discarded face masks, utilising them as upholstery fabric.

The keen eyed amongst you may also have spotted some Smile Plastics in Milan. Our collaborative seating project with ACAD, which was originally created for Paris Design Week, before being reimagined for The Harewood Biennial, and most recently finding itself in Italy, was crafted by design duo Adrien Cugulliere and Arthur Didier from our Ocean material.

Is there something we’ve missed? Or do you have a favourite brand or product from the show to share with us? Let us know!

If you’re keen to see some Smile Plastics in person, be sure to visit The Harewood Biennial before the end of August to see the ACAD seat up close. You can also pick up Smile samples at Material Source Studio in Manchester and EDGE Showroom in London.