Out with the New, In with the Old – Trends at Salone del Mobile 2016

The high-end sector of the interior design industry suffered throughout the recession along with everyone else. The prospects were grim for the top players, while mass-market giants like Ikea appealed to tighter budgets. But as the global market recovered, a light began to shine on the beautiful and ever-changing world of quality interiors. UK sales started to pick up for the first time in seven years back in 2015, while overall European sales grew by 6% and exports to China have managed to triple across 2013, 2014 and 2015.

It’s finally looking good again for the many talents growing in the interior design sector. Foreign investors are now once more fascinated and downright bedazzled by both major brands with historical value and indie names that somehow set new benchmarks of excellence every year. Private equity firms are now actively pouring funds into luxury furniture and boosting the international market, making events like Salone del Mobile the place to be.

So it’s no wonder that this year’s edition managed to welcome almost 300,000 people from over 150 countries, where Italy alone is the third-largest global exporter. Milan was home to the 55th edition of Salone del Mobile, and despite the slow domestic demand, Italian furniture makers were once again able to excite and impress visitors – residential and commercial clients, potential buyers, investors and design aficionados. The six-day event also managed to push boundaries and set new trends, borrowing highlights from the exuberant world of fashion and heavyset elements of vintage eras gone by. Creative minds of the interior design industry brought forth uniquely reinvented themes, fascinating colour palettes and natural inserts – and we took each and every one of them in.

After almost a decade of living under the influence of mid-century styles, interior designers have now moved on to the luxurious ‘70s, reinventing them into fabulous lounge and dining room settings. Dark shades of glass and marble dominate areas meant for relaxation and socialising, while fine velvety textures dress the seating elements in stylish greens and blues. The curtains take on earthy tones and floral motifs, with the occasional sheet of Bordeaux red to once again remind people that the ‘70s weren’t all about psychedelic disco, but also a tasteful landmark in the history of high end interior design.

Nature has once again dominated a furniture show, with fantastic visual results best seen at this year’s edition of Salone del Mobile. Eternal spring is captured in floral prints and organic designs for lighting and accessories, filling dining and bedroom spaces with crude greens, vibrant pinks and purples, and a general sense of freshness across all the designer displays. 

Plants, flowers and different species of wood were inserted into kitchens, bedrooms and dining areas in an attempt to bring the outdoor inside and get closer to Mother Nature – our eco-conscious inner-voice gets louder with each passing year. 

Special attention is also paid to the workspace, the little corner at home dedicated to nurturing the mind. Fine and classy shades of grey and beige mingle with high finish woods and smooth metals in modular elements for bookshelves and cabinets. The room dividers and wardrobes are also subjected to creative experiments, where prints and wood patterns meet to turn the bedroom into a work of art. 

In between the many trendsetters for 2017, the classic furniture sets continued to dazzle in Milan, where domestic creatives continue to showcase their skill from conception through design all the way into the manufacture process – we all know that Italian furniture makers are among the world’s greatest, and the tradition continues to impress with each passing year. 

Renaissance and Baroque elements are ever-present on the stage of high end home interiors, and intricate embroidery, brushed gold frames and delicate lines keep flowing into sumptuous decors in shades of pink, peach, pale greens and blues. And once more, stunning chandeliers are the centrepieces of the lounge, handcrafted and embellished with gold, brass and meticulously blown Venetian glass.

Marble has become a synonym for glamour over the past few years, adding a hefty dose of luxury to any type of interior and working its way into bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms. As seen at Salone del Mobile, this year’s trends revolve around new tones: pearly pinks, blush peach and black ink set across coffee tables, wall décor, counter tops and bedside tables.

On the other side of the world’s biggest furniture fair, other trends budded and blossomed. A sci-fi vibe exuded from particular designs, mostly thanks to the choice of colours and materials: polished metals, sharp corners, asymmetric shapes built around iridescent glass and unexpected shades of violet, blue and green. The future is here and interior designers sure know how to work with it. Be advised that 2017 will bring forth a new era in futuristic designs, playing with surfaces and spaces in some pretty innovative ways – reflections and light effects playing a major part on this particular stage.

Metals continue to overtake the interior design industry, with both shiny and brushed layers of gold, silver, copper, brass and stainless steel accentuating literally any piece of furniture. 

Expect bold decorations and modular elements, quirky coffee tables and avant-garde chairs, and most importantly, expect a consistency in lighting where metals are concerned. In fact, in some corners of Salone del Mobile, several brilliant minds even managed to substitute the old timey wood in basic structures such as chairs, coffee tables and dressers with polished metals.

The 55th edition of this multifaceted fair encompassed numerous other trends, from organic shapes in metals to a vibrant Under the Sea theme in glass decorations, as well as many other colourful spots in between. 

Overall, our trip there was absolutely worth it, and our clients were amongst the eye-catchers throughout the six days of rtful exhibits. We walked away with many trends to look out for in 2017, some of which we’re hoping to see gain a more permanent traction across the conception board of interior designers worldwide. An ephemeral trend here and there works just fine, but watching the world of interiors transform itself the way it always does at events like Salone del Mobile is a completely different experience altogether. We’re already excited for 2017!