Colour Industry Expertise Interior Design Material Trend

Milan Design Week Report 2023

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) for your preview and all you need to know about how you can get my report.

Colour Material

Colour in Context: Ultramarine Blue

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.


Colour in context: Medium Taupe

Colour of the day: Medium Taupe
Simple description: a medium grey-brown

Notes for usage: Meet the world´s most underrated colour group. The name simply means ‘mole’ in French (please pronounce it French!). Blending brown and grey, taupes are incredibly versatile. As plain greys have long reached the mass market, expect earthier ‘neutrals’ to gain momentum in the years to come. Currently, there’s also a trend for mixing cooler with warmer shades, where taupes can often provide a clever link.

As with most shades of brown and grey, there’s hardly anyone who would call taupe their favourite colour and yet, it’s highly popular and invaluable for interior design. As a tertiary colour it can be derived from a number of base colours, so the perfect taupe will depend on the other colours involved. However, it’s usually a colour group that pairs well with most partners. Taupe can offer what many hope to achieve with black yet it’s sooo much more harmonious with more colours.

Its unobtrusive, dirt-resistant but sensuous quality makes taupe a product designer´s darling. I prefer matte, silky, velvety and suede leather inspired textures for a premium, natural look. For textile design, it works beautifully with mauve yarns in duo-tone taffetas. Imagine applying the effect on coloured glass or metallic surfaces. Go and play with it!

Colour Material

Colour in Context: Celadon Green

Colour of the day: Celadon Green
Simple description: a pale greyish green

Notes for usage: As with all colours in this series, celadon green is not a standardized colour but should rather be understood as a range of grey-toned light greens. Its base can range from neutral green (balanced between yellow and blue) to slightly yellowish greens, however, celadon greens always emanate softness and a certain elegance. They became famous through Chinese pottery, where those kinds of greenwares were highly regarded for centuries due to their resemblance of jade. The term is most likely of French origin.

Celadon green is fairly easy to use, as it works with any kind of architecture from embellished and historic to slick and contemporary. It is open to harmonising with gentle to bold and light to dark colours. A personal favourite is a combination with midnight blue and/or cognac brown. I also love a small coral red colour pop when celadon is the main colour.

What´s interesting about this shade is, that it changes its overall appearance dramatically, when paired with different coloured metals. With silver it seems airy and almost transparent, gold adds warmth and weight, copper makes it appear more dynamic and rose-gold is just dreamy. Celadon green works from powdery matte to high-shine finishes. In shady lighting conditions, it shifts more towards grey from the green but stays pleasant on the eye.


Colour in Context: Chartreuse

Colour of the day: Chartreuse
Simple description: a vivid greenish-yellow

Notes for usage: May I introduce you to the greenest kind of yellow, just before it tips towards yellowish green? Exactly, that’s Chartreuse! It’s an impactful not commonly used shade. Each colour changes its appearance depending on the surrounding hues, however, Chartreuse will always add some vibrancy and edge.

For interior design, I can’t recommend it on a large scale for areas where you spend extended periods of time unless you want to feel really agitated (; However, it’s a great shade for a quick energy boost. Hallway update anyone? Or how about the inside of your wardrobe, if you find it hard to wake up in the mornings? But be careful, it is not great around the mirror for 99% of the world’s population. If you use it as a wall colour, make sure the lighting is excellent, otherwise, the effect can be quite depressing (bold yellows often react badly to shadows).

Its radiant appearance makes it pair well with subdued nuances such as charcoal, taupe, beige, navy blue, soft mauve or blue-grey. Crisp white resonates better than cream white. Colour pros like @adamnathanielfurman go full-on with it though and it’s magical. For surface and CMF design, it can be an appealing colour to mix artificial/natural or classic/openminded. Think felt cushion, chartreuse stitching on a navy jacket or a button on an otherwise minimalist device. Essentially, use this colour if you want to add a high energy focal point. Have fun with it!

Colour Trend

Colour in Context: Pale Mauve

Colour of the day: Pale Mauve
Simple description: a pale, gentle purple

Today I rediscovered a kitschy as fuck ode to mauve I wrote many years ago and adapted it slightly. Yeah, I left the early tweens undertones in there. Skip to the fourth paragraph for more hands-on advice on mauve (:

If I was a colour
then I’d choose mauve
in all its shades
from nostalgically daydreaming to passionately vibrating
not pink
not purple
somewhere in between
decisively wandering through the fog
embracing its powdery grey coat
and people properly looking at me
would notice my special beauty
but not that many take the time to take a closer look

The world has changed to be beautifully colourful and I don’t feel limited to choose one shade these days, so let’s finally get to what you’re actually here for:

Notes for usage: An emerging colour group for a broader spectrum of applications, mauves are slowly but steadily gaining more attention. Breaking free from gendered colour cliches, we see contemporary colour design become more openminded and/or unisex. Evolving from the highly popular pale pinks (often summarised as Millennial Pink) we have seen in previous seasons, pastel shades continue to stay relevant. Blending the best of soft pink, blue and grey, pale mauves are incredibly versatile. Ideal candidates to harmonise harsh contrasts, they still add more interest than many other chromatic neutrals. You’ll notice usability for many surfaces from matte to ultra-glossy when you experiment with Pale Mauve. What’s your favourite finish for mauves? Which materials would you consider colouring in this nuance?


Colour in Context: Golden Yellow

Colour of the day: Golden Yellow

Simple description: a deep warm yellow

Notes for usage: Radiating mellow warmth and natural abundance, Golden Yellow draws attention without being overwhelming. Yellows generally tend to be very susceptible to changing light. However, Golden Yellows derived from ochre bases mixed with bold yellow pigments and umbers keep their sunny glow even in shady conditions. It’s high grey content make this nuance suitable for large scale use in rooms facing any direction.

For surface design feel free to experiment. I prefer dry, matte finishes and signs of craftsmanship or imperfection on high gloss ceramics with this shade. It’s also an amazing colour for felting, wool-knits and rugs, echoing the materials warming properties. Options are vast though, as you haven’t got to worry about shadows. You´d be surprised with how many colours this bold shade works when it hugs their companions with that irresistible generosity.

PS: Yes, this is one of my all-time favs, although I only own golden yellow tights. I do have four pairs though and they cheer me up during those nasty European winters (double or triple layering 🙄).

Colour Material

Colour in Context: Plaster Pink

Colour of the day: Plaster Pink
Simple description: a subtle earthy pink

Notes for usage: This is THE colour to use if you want all the positive connotations of pink, without its stereotypical clichés. It is soft, but not sweet and more grown-up than many other nuances in the pink colour family. Plaster Pink is, well, the colour of setting plaster. Bridging the gap between beige and pink it is reminiscent of sandstone. Its constructive qualities make it an excellent architectural colour.

Did you know it was also popular during the Modernist Movement? Don´t let yourself be fooled by black-and-white imagery of the time. Le Corbusier and various artists at the Bauhaus appreciated its natural, warm and unobtrusive appearance. Back in the day mixing red earth pigments with white chalk for outdoor rendering and indoor plaster was very common. With a renewed focus on natural dyes and paints, these colourants have made a strong comeback in contemporary colour design.

With grey wall paint having long reached the mass market, we see a rising interest in chromatic neutrals. Plaster Pink is getting increasingly popular for large scale use in interior design. This chalky just-about-pink is comforting and warming at any time of the day. When it is kissed by the golden glow of a setting sun then magic happens.

Plaster pink is easy to use for surface designers, as it works well in any lighting condition. However, it lends itself particularly well for dry, matt finishes. When newness and longevity need to be paired, this is a suitable colour choice to update tech products and homeware ranges.

Colour Trend

Colour in Context: Terracotta Pink

Colour of the day: Terracotta Pink
Simple description: an earthy pink

Notes for usage: As the fascination with Millenial Pink is slowly fading, we see an evolution towards warmer, earthier shades. These nuances occupy a special position among the pink colour family. They have a completely different effect than their sugary or brightly coloured relatives, which most people immediately think of when they hear pink.

Terracotta Pink exudes a sense of natural luxury and longevity. It appears sensual, relaxed and humane. The overall impression is more grown-up than youthful. Classic gender assignments are blurred, although many products offered in this colour mainly address a feminine target group. Terracotta Pink relatively easy to combine. With crisp white, grey and black it appears more graphic and classy. Pair it with ecru, blush and taupe for a nonchalantly pleasant feel. Add pastel blue and cinnamon brown and the result is a homely mix with a little retro appeal. But earthy pink tones are also open to strong contrasting partners such as ultramarine blue or mustard yellow.

Terracotta Pink is a surface design all-star. Use powdery matt, velvety shimmering or high gloss finishes to show the multifaceted applicability of this colour. And did you know it also works well in most lighting conditions?


Colour in Context: Soft Olive

Colour of the day: Soft Olive
Simple description: a light warm green

Notes for usage: Its subtle warmth and light to medium tone make Soft Olive extremely versatile. Use it as an unobtrusive accent or accompanying colour or all-over for a balanced, mellow feel. This nuance is a lot less saturated than many common olives. Containing some amount of grey Soft Olive adapts well to various lighting conditions. Avoid perfectly glossy ceramics for surface design, unless you want to evoke memories of the typical 1970s avocado bathroom suits. If you go for a shining finish, consider handmade effects to keep the look more contemporary. This shade of green generally feels more natural with matte finishes. With a general shift towards earthier, warmer tones, expect to see similar green tones rise in popularity in the years to come.