Neale Whi­taker finds joy in the fa­mil­iar at Mi­lan De­sign Week.


Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Neale Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-in-chief of Vogue Liv­ing.

Same same, but only slightly dif­fer­ent. That’s how I felt about the trends (or lack of them) emerg­ing from this year’s Mi­lan De­sign Week. Maybe the greens were bluer and the pinks a lit­tle mud­dier, but, over­all, trend-watch­ers can ei­ther rest easy or feel short-changed – 2017 looks much like 2016, colour-wise and style-wise. And strange as it might sound com­ing from a mag­a­zine ed­i­tor, I think that’s a good thing.

Give me in­di­vid­u­al­ity any day. While I’m fas­ci­nated by the big-pic­ture trends with stay­ing power (open-plan, in­door/ out­door, liv­ing zones, wet rooms, “green” walls), I’m no friend of the fad. Our homes are too per­sonal and too in­ti­mate for the dic­tates of fast fash­ion. So I’m glad I don’t have to send you in the di­rec­tion of a new go-to colour or a must-have shape.

For the first time in years, it felt as if there was re­spect for the unique, the be­spoke and the orig­i­nal. What ex­cited me most in Mi­lan was the technology that al­lows true in­ven­tion. 3D-printed glass and ce­ram­ics are as beau­ti­ful as they are ex­cit­ing and baf­fling. And while you might ar­gue that any­thing looks good in an 18th-cen­tury palazzo, Ital­ian de­sign stu­dios, such as Di­more (di­morestu­ and Stu­diopepe (stu­, were mas­ters of cu­rat­ing fur­ni­ture and ob­jects to glimpse where past, present and fu­ture meet. And there was the sheer chutz­pah of de­sign­ers such as Tom Dixon (, who fash­ioned his own shop­ping mall in the cen­tre of town, and Dan­ish fur­ni­ture brand Fritz Hansen (, which, with the help of Span­ish de­sign mav­er­ick Jaime Hayon (hayon­stu­dio. com), cre­ated Fritz Ho­tel, a cool pop-up ho­tel foyer com­plete with re­cep­tion and bar. There were no rooms to check into, but it gave new mean­ing to Euro-vi­sion.

And those not-so-trends? Scrolling through the many pho­tos I took dur­ing the week, there was no short­age of dirty yel­lows, for­est greens and a gamut of pinks from rasp­berry to ter­ra­cotta. Mar­ble seems a per­ma­nent de­sign fix­ture, but this year it was rich, brown and deeply veined. There was quartz, crys­tal and mala­chite, and plenty of brass. So­fas were less mod­u­lar, more lin­ear. And there was a mul­ti­tude of ce­ram­ics, grouped gen­er­ously on side­boards, cre­den­zas and shelves – time to dust off those op-shop finds and Year 10 pot­tery projects.

Whether it’s art on the wall or vases on ta­bles, more is def­i­nitely more.the knack is in the cu­rat­ be con­tin­ued.

THE FUN OF THE FAIR Stand­out looks at Mi­lan De­sign Week in­cluded (clock­wise from top) Di­more Stu­dio’s in­stal­la­tion; a colour­ful cre­ation by Francesca Pasquali; the stun­ning light of the Lexus pavil­ion.

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