Just freshly home from a week at the Milan Furniture Fair and we wanted to share with you all of the trends that we saw. Milan is the premier and largest furniture fair in the world and if you want to be on the cutting edge of the new products it is a must– for Designers and retailers alike.
In no particular order here are all of the hot new trends that we saw.
1. Bunching tables mixing soft and hard materials – we have seen the groupings of several cocktail tables together for at least the past three years but this year there was an added dimension. If there were four tables one might be marble, one might be wood, one glass and lastly a fabric ottoman. As well and this might seem obvious but they are all different heights and shapes. It requires a fair amount of space but it is such an amazing look that we recommend you remove some excess furniture to give you the space to do this. This look also works equally well at the end of the sofa – as end tables. The beauty of this is that the soft fabric covered piece can be pulled away and used as extra seating. Genius!!!
2. Blue and brown – We had dinner with the President of one of our vendors prior to the start of the fair. When I asked what the big color would be this year she answered “blue with brown” without hesitation and it only took visiting the first 3-4 showrooms to realize Francesca was dead on. The brown is not the heavy chocolate brown from years ago but a warm caramel or mocha color. The blue runs the total gamut from the palest of baby blue to a rich deep cobalt blue. With walnut remaining the number one choice in wood this color way works beautifully with it. We saw blue in accent pillows, in fabric coverings on dining chairs and sofas and in lacquer on case goods. Walking the streets of Milan we saw the fashion industry has also embraced this color way. Accents of citron, green or purple are often used with great effect.
3. Velvet and velour – This fabric seems to go in and out of favor and I can tell you – at least in Milan, it is very much in vogue right now. Rich deep colors and fun pop art colors, it does not seem to matter. Traditional or modern – all the factories were using the rich soft warm velvet and velour fabrics. With modern technology the care is painless and the longevity extended. We saw it in our hotel lobby and you know the wear and tear that can take. Bright green colored chairs looked as fresh as their purple counterparts.
4. Shaped chairs – This particular trend took me a bit off guard. The backs of the chairs are mostly rounded and soft. Many have small wings meant to wrap around you and many more have exaggerated head pieces. We literally saw this everywhere as is evident with the volume of pictures we have. They were mostly incredibly comfortable because of the lumbar support. You will see lots of these in our showroom in the coming months.
5. Copper for an accent only – Some vendors embraced this new bright metal but only a few. Interestingly one was Paolo Pininfarina (for Reflex) who we all know has been ahead of the pack his whole life. I would bet money on the introduction and use of copper by this time next year.
6. Bronze metal – this is definitely here to stay. The dark bronze has been embraced as the new neutral and it really can be utilized that way. We saw it mostly on the struts and supports on book shelves, wall units and bed rails. It seems to go perfectly with the therma oak all the Italians use but as well it looks rich and warm with the grey stained woods and lacquers. The kitchen show was running at the same time and there we saw the bronze used on large spaces like the drawer and door fronts. Again because of technology and all the advancements in material finishing and care the kitchen manufacturers assured us it would require no more maintenance than wood or lacquer doors. Once again we saw this metallic influence in fashion showing up in shoes and purses.
7. TV’s mounted behind glass or mirrors – These were available last year and we embraced the concept and currently have one on display in our showroom. Ours is behind a mirror which is hung on top of a dresser in a bedroom setting. The beauty of this of course is that you do not see the TV until you want to turn it on. This year we saw this technology on sliding and/or fixed wardrobe doors and the manufacturers of this amazing technology have added many more sizes.
8. Fringe on carpets – We first noticed this in some of the hotel lobbies and restaurants and thought it might be because the carpets were older and more traditional. Not the case – we saw fringe in many of the booths and at several carpet vendors we buy from. At a dinner one night I sat beside a carpet designer and she said this trend started in Northern Europe and is now everywhere. She personally uses it to soften the look and finds it most effective on contemporary carpets.
9. Elaborate mix of fabrics by tone and texture – Mixing color and texture is not new but we saw a fabulous shift to tone on tone with all kinds of specialty fabrics – pleated silks, soft boucles, rich velvets and brushed cottons. Usually the sofa is covered in a main neutral and the elaborate mix comes from pillows or throws added to the piece.
10. Mirrors have become works of art – Absolutely every vendor had stunning mirrors – all sizes, all shapes, all different uses. The frames ranged from curled or wavy to straight to one that looked like it was shattered in the middle. Many were hung in pairs or in groups of three. We all know how much a room expands with the use of mirrors but now you will have a piece of art on the wall as well.
11. Modular case goods – We saw this in enough places that I will go out on a limb and call it a trend – if not it is still a wonderful idea. Square or rectangular boxes of different sizes have been engineered to fit together, stack or hang on the wall. Most can be finished in wood, lacquer or a mix of both. Some have doors, some are open at the front – starting to get the picture? The options are really limitless. When used in a bedroom they can be attached near the bed and flow right into a book case or desk area.
12. Floor to ceiling book shelves to be used as room dividers – Almost every case good and upholstery vendor had their own version, all you have to do is choose what you love. Most had inserts of boxes or half boxes to add dimension and interest. Some shelves were hung at angles which means your books could be displayed in a unique fashion. Many homes have large open areas and this is a fabulous and attractive solution to both storage and to warming up a too large area.
13. Matt finish – High gloss is not dead but matt is coming on stronger and stronger. It may be a reaction to the popularity of the live edge tables we have been seeing for the last several years which of course are not polished but even the “luxury” vendors like Fendi, Minotti and Giorgio are all showing their principle pieces like dining tables and bedroom sets in a soft matt finish.
14. Walnut – There is not much to say about this continued embracing of walnut. It continues to be the wood of choice for almost everything including kitchens. In order to please the die hards some vendors offer a chocolate or grigio (grey) stain.
15. Tables at the sides of sofas – This is a look that I absolutely loved. A smaller dimensioned and slightly lower console is placed along the chaise side of a sectional or along only half of the back of the piece. If you have several modular pieces in a sectional you can break up all of the upholstery by tucking a table in between two of the pieces. Great use of space and a great look.