Milan comes to life during the week Salone Internazionale del Mobile and the Fuorisalone in April. As the global benchmark for the furnishing and design sector it seamlessly integrates business and culture into one truly inspiring global event, that “shines a light on the state of the art of design”.

Our European design team visited the Fuorisalone to see what’s new in design for brands, their products and opportunities for retail executions. This was where the magic was happening; unrestricted, immersive brand experiences and expressions with events that allowed people to really engage.

The key trend we saw was that of human centric experience, whether demonstrated through technology, communication, or physicality of products. Everything had the human factor at its centre.

Immersive and multi-sensory executions to delight customers and provide a playful experience were everywhere with brands focusing on this human interaction, both consciously and subconsciously, with technology for example, from both Dyson and Sony playing to emotions and individuals. User experiences were much improved and felt more natural with less complex interfaces and more intuitive interactions from a technology perspective. This was highly visible with customer facing interactions and also back office operations with increased and innovative use of VR and AR applications.

 

The human centric factor was very evident in communication as brands led with lifestyle stories rather than focusing purely on outstanding product benefits. Storytelling was executed in a very visual and interactive way with products presented in the context of daily life and instagrammable sets to really drive home those enhanced lifestyles that drive buy in. Beautiful and powerful content generation was also a key feature, with fewer screens and more projections and illumination technology to capture the imagination.

 

The use of vivid colour and imagery which was vibrant yet mellow, was particularly noticeable this year across all platforms whether, print, materials, illumination and digital content as well as the products themselves. Colour was the key means of attracting standout and it worked; we experience colour in our natural and digital realities. With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities of colour usage, attracted attention and hit a responsive chord.

Sustainability with its growing global social agenda played a large part with the design fair showcasing the effort and energy being put into smart design, circular thinking and sustainable materials. Multi-sensory spaces are being designed to create new relationships between humans and nature in a process of discovering new materials, products, services and use of space, all playing to the emotional connection between consumers and communities. As well as the more conventional approaches, unusual and often discarded natural materials such as feathers, shells and ash were used to make incredible sustainable and ethical products as diverse as tiles made by Formafantasma with volcanic ash glaze, to experiments with ostrich feather fabrics by Pascal Theron.

It as a truly exciting week-long event and we learnt much about the future of integrated experiences and how these are being brought to life. We were inspired by the design, use of colour, materials and technology, all brought together to create meaningful and inspiring experiences with a focus on the human emotional needs and responses to such executions. It’s inspired us to really question how we approach design projects and to ensure the experiences we develop really focus on the seamless integration of all emotional touchpoints with the consumer at the heart of everything. Innovative use of new technologies in production processes as well as materials to drive sustainable solutions, combined with bold use of colour and beautiful content will support our thinking and approach.

 

We are already excited at what Milan Design Week 2020 will bring!!