My Milan DESIGN Week REPORT 2023 is out! Carefully curated, it is a comprehensive yet compact summary of the key takeaways on colour, material, finish, style, shape, construction, design details, innovations and overarching themes.
I developed my report for brands/creatives who weren’t able to attend MDW themselves or don’t have the resources to distil relevant best practice examples. It features many quality brands, over 100 pages, with a minimum of 3 inspirational images on each page (1 page = 1 theme), in deliberate contrast to the many 200+ page reports that exist.
More time has been spent on selection/analysis to help brands quickly understand what really matters. Additional images are available on request and this report provides a valuable, solid basis for informed decision making.
Email hello(at)alinaschartner.com for your preview and all you need to know about how you can get my report.
Colour of the day: Ultramarine Blue Simple description: a deep vivid blue
Notes for usage: Ultramarine blue is high energy. Its vibrant, mesmerising glow is so powerful, that it even adds zing to shady spaces. This colour is always a statement. Consider softening it with chalky white for small spaces, to avoid an overwhelming effect. Even little amounts of this colour will draw attention.
For a straight, graphic look try pairing it with crisp white and black. Small accents of Ultramarine next to gentle pinks make the colour seem more approachable. The brave add a colour pop with crimson red or neon orange; however, I would recommend sticking to homoeopathic doses, unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
Made globally recognised by artist Yves Klein, who described the colour as the expression of ultimate freedom, it has never lost its edgy appearance since the 1960s. Historically, ultramarine blues were won from ground Lapislazuli, meaning they were extremely expensive for centuries. Synthetic ultramarines are cheap, which make them popular choices for mixing wall paint or neutralising unwanted yellow tinges from paper to bleached hair.
For surface design, I prefer ultra-matte, dry-looking finishes for these shades of blue, to not take anything away from the depth and intensity of the colour. Glossy ceramics can work well though, particularly when handmade effects are still visible. High-shine surfaces can seem artificial and but also visionary. Admittedly, Ultramarine Blue is not the easiest colour to work with on a large scale, but sometimes that is exactly where the serious excitement starts.
PS: I had shared information about ultramarine blue before, but this colour group continues to grow in imporatance from product to lighting design.
WITH PLEASURE is an ode to indulge in exquisite hedonism elevating every day. This trend fully embraces maximalism, a premium touch for daily goods and making the most of any situation after prolonged feelings of having missed out.
With stretched budgets due to the corona crises, 2022 is likely to be another year for many not to be able to go on holiday. Instead, interiors and campaigns are reminiscent of plush hotel treatment. For the homebody economy, this is an excellent opportunity to offer more of life´s little luxuries.
Mix bold stripes with ditsy florals and wiggly line-work for cutting edge clashes with vintage-inspired patterns. Powdery red, blue and peach freshen up a base of classic, dark shades. Absolute must-haves? Ramie or lotus silk sleep masks, serving trays and twisted candles.
Powdery, sophisticated reds such as RAL “Light Tomato” have little in common with the nuances that first come to mind when red is mentioned. Its nonchalant elegance is heart-warming. This colour works best in matte and velvety qualities.
REWILD supports a return to more wilderness and holistic well-being. We see the steep resurgence of natural remedies; from beauty brands incorporating foraged botanicals, to booked-out wild-herbal courses.
Urbanisation and edutainment formats such as David Attenborough´s “A Life on Our Planet” drive this trend. Circular thinking is expected. With growing awareness of the impact of deforestation or the textile industry polluting our ecosystems, a major CMF-shift (colour, material, finish) is about to go mainstream.
Oat-meal shades replace chemical white. More sustainable fibres such as hemp are left unbleached and undyed. Accent pieces are coloured with plant and mineral-based dyes or pigments derived from industrial waste. Ceramics stay unglazed, wood is untreated or oiled. Mycelium is used from packaging design to the world´s first “living coffin” by Bob Hendrikx.
Rich browns such as RAL “Golden Brown” are key colours to be paired with oat-meal shades and unbleached, chalky whites. More and more designers turn to plant and mineral-based dyes or pigments derived from industrial waste. Mix darker wood with paler varieties for a contemporary look.
DREAMSCAPE blurs the borders between earthly and extraterrestrial realms. Amid the new space-age design is influenced by notions of populating Mars. Raw surfaces, porous textures and bold orbital shapes are key for product direction.
The colour palette takes inspiration from the red planets matt nuances ranging from mud yellow to deep mineral reds. Light mauve and peach add softness whilst two lilacs – one on the blueish one on the reddish spectrum – contrast the hazy glow.
Global pressures – from the exploitation of our world´s resources to the corona crisis – have accelerated escapist tendencies. Millions dream of a life beyond the mundane. Expect to see a rising demand for virtual/extended reality experiences as well as adaptogens and nootropics for relaxing at home.
Feeling ready for Spring Summer 2021? Baked and faded tones are reminiscent of the warmth of sun-soaked days spent in laid-back retreats in Southern Provence.
‘La Belle Vie’ is one of the trend stories I developed with my team at Trend Bible in early 2019. It´s lovely seeing what we predicted to gain importance on the high street now. The palette I designed for this modern rustic look is still one of my favourites with its nonchalantly relaxed charm.
When I selected the nuances I made sure they work in various lighting conditions – not just in regions naturally gifted with more sunshine. The palette certainly still cheers me up and I love how versatile it is. You can easily combine any of the shades with each other.
Let´s make celebrating love fully inclusive; not just on Valentine´s Day but all year round.
Did you know that the name is derived from Latin ‘valentia’ meaning strength or capacity?
14 February is often disliked by singles, people in unfulfilling relationships and happy couples not conforming to stereotypical norms alike.
In recent years we have seen the rise of #galentines celebrations – female friends gifting one another to express their non-romantic love. It´s a step moving forwards.
But there is still untapped potential for the gift and greetings industry to offer options outside of heteronormative clichés. We also have to do more than rainbow prints if we mean equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
‘MON AMOUR’ inspires us to think outside the box of gender assigned designs. This mood board gives romantic love between men a voice. However, the imagery is chosen to be welcoming to all; men, women, non-binary people with all their sexual preferences. Conceptions of female and male colours are challenged. Mauve tones, deep blues and reds ooze sophistication, whilst a pop of bold red amplifies the contemporary edge of this dreamy story.
‘YOU ROCK MY LIFE’ shouts out loud for love in various forms – from passionate and sexy to amicably asexual. The mood board opens us to the idea of gifting loved ones regardless if we are in a romantic relationship or not. Messaging is fun and cheeky. Gentle pinks – playing with warm and cool undertones – serve as background colours for clashing reds. Soft yellow adds an element of surprise in this vastly monochromatic colour scheme.
Have you noticed, that some of the nuances also feature in other trend stories I have created for 2021+? Using overarching colours ensures different collections work with each other. This approach is more sustainable, as it´s easy to integrate stock that did not sell the following season/year. If your brand values seasonless design then you will notice the benefits of smart colour combinations even more.
Send an e-mail to email@example.com to talk about how I can inspire your brand on design and colour direction or finding the right narrative tone.
As an advocate for more sustainability within trend forecasting, I believe we should not suggest new or more colours for the sake of it. Whenever I develop a collection, I also look at other ranges for the same season. For brands that focus on longevity, I make sure they harmonise with older ones.
Pale Olive RAL 095 80 20 will be important throughout 2021 and beyond. Gentle greens make us feel more connected to nature all year round.
Wheat Flour White RAL 080 85 05 is the perfect match; it is a move on from all the greys we have seen previously. Over the last few seasons, there was a general shift towards warmer and more earthy nuances on a global scale. However, at home and often also in retail products of many seasons are combined. This is a fantastic colour to layer on top of cool greys as well.
Fox Red RAL 040 50 60 is an eye-catching warm shade. In ‘MODERN COTTAGE’ (previous post) it is used in tiny quantities. Alternatively, you could also try Foxflower Viola RAL 280 70 15. In ‘HOUSE BAR’ (next post) it sets a bolder statement. This colour works better with off-whites; bright white can make it look garish. But do have a try at some of the combinations I´ve shown in the mood boards!
The selected key colours are based on my research for 2021 (from early 2019-present). I consider how they work across interior design and lifestyle trends. Each of the colours is part of a collection of 7-8 shades. Have you noticed that the circular key colour features in the mood boards before and after this post?
Pale Siena RAL 050 60 10 pairs well with many shades. For Spring Summer 2021 warm, soft clay tones receive a freshen-up with cooler nuances.
In ‘MEDITERRANEO’ they sit at ease with other baked nuances in this mostly analogous colour scheme. The palette is inspired by natural materials used in traditional Southern European architecture. Wind Blue RAL 260 80 15 feels like a mild breeze coming in from the sea. It adds a contemporary twist to the overall look.
In ‘NEW LIGHTNESS’ Pale Siena takes on a completely different function. Here it is used to soften the impact of brave shades such as Ice Mauve RAL 300 80 15 or Techno Pink RAL 350 70 30. Did you spot, that Terra Orange RAL 040 60 40 and Biscuit Beige RAL 060 80 20 also appear in both colour palettes?
reThink stands for a humane use of colour which is easy to implement.
With reThink we are providing designers and architects with a 15-part colour space as a tool for future-oriented designs. The shades selected are very well-suited to product design/architecture and flexible so they can be adapted to a range of requirements.
The complete PDF of the current issue can be downloaded HERE.
Borders are increasingly blurring between our private and professional lives, action and regeneration, global and local issues. We therefore want to provide suggestions for designing these new interpersonal living spaces through corresponding colour combinations. We call the confrontation with the current topics of our times – in particular how we want to live and work in the future – and their colours reThink. The result is a colour world with the challenge to all designers to integrate it into their projects: CREATE!
The colours selected for this are based on the observation and analysis of social, technical and design trends over the last 50 years until today. However, the colour spectrum developed also refers to basic design categories and detailed studies regarding colour effect and colour perception. In addition to the visual function, the focus is also on the combination with sensual perceptions and cultural meanings of colours.
Our goal was not to define fixed trend colours, but to develop a current to sustainable colour profile, which creates design possibilities instead of reducing them.
The colour language of reThink has an inspiring and at the same time grounding effect. In a world view that increasingly appreciates sustainability, an easy combinability and longevity become key requirements for design.
reThink encourages the creation of spaces and products that create long-term added value. The colour range invites you to feel, think, rethink and combine freely. Polarities – such as natural/artificial or monumental/filigran – complement each other in this unobtrusively inspiring colour space. Together with the RAL Design System plus this colour space is integrated into a complex colour system and can easily be expanded.
reThink is the impulse for a society where empathy and humane objectives are important. Wisdom from earlier cosmopolitan eras, such as the Renaissance, is combined with visions for a better future. In a networked and unpredictable world, we see an increased orientation towards values of mindfulness and holistic prudence.
The Slow Culture movement, which has grown out of the megatrends of neo-ecology, health and a new culture of knowledge, is focusing on greater appreciation of resources in the long term. Creativity and a creative drive are combined with a growing holistic sense of responsibility on a global and individual level.
Appealing colours and sensual surfaces create a positive relation to our surroundings.
Subtle, variable colours and sensual surfaces create a balance to the digitalization and sensory overload of everyday life. The range is characterized by a reserved, changeable colourfulness. Matt shades reminiscent of lime paint and chromatic shadowy tones create versatile applicable harmonies. Selected shade-in-shade combinations modulate empty spaces discreetly.
Thanks to mainly light to medium tonalities, the overall impression is light and yet solid. Materials inspired by clay, stone, loam and sturdy plasters provide strength and sensitive textures. By using light, transparencies and soft graduations an airy atmosphere is created. Despite being unobtrusive, surface and product designs appear imaginative, personal and approachable.
I was one of the CMF specialists, trend forecasters and also one of the two main editors on this project. Really loved this collaboration with RAL colours and IIT Institute International Trendscouting. All work was done fully remote. To guarantee colour accuracy, we all used RAL Design System plus original samples. Well done team!
We work globally and care about colour education: The trend report is available in English, German, Chinese, Spanish, French, Russian or Dutch for free. Share this info with anyone who should know about it. You can even download the colour palette as .ase files to easily integrate them into your digital workflow.