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.
I didn´t spot completely game-changing innovation, however, for the trained design and trend-savvy eye, there were beautiful move-ons from previous themes and lovely touches of newness throughout the exhibitions. Most of the designs and colours shown I forecast two years ago.
Three major influences drive this slow-down:
– Brands have less money to spend due to the global impacts of the corona crisis or have shifted their budget more towards macro-trends rather than investing in design trend consultancy. However, really good design needs really good research – insight and inspiration are equally as important. The results are now vastly indistinguishable product lines.
– Brands are more risk-averse. Falling back to classics and cash cows is a common strategy in times of uncertainty. However, customers still expect a certain level of fresh input to be enticed to buy.
– Brands consciously stop pushing for newness for the sake of it as a response to heightened pressure for sustainable business practices. More informed than ever, customers reject greenwashing and expect real commitment and brands taking responsibility. We now see some brands showcasing the new collections alongside products of former seasons. This approach is more similar to the layering in most people´s homes. Reworking well-selling products to be ecological and creating fair working conditions for the people producing the goods and working within the delivery chains is a viable option. Moving forwards intersectional environmentalism is key for future-proofing businesses.
Overall, the fair and surrounding exhibitions were smaller and visited by a lot fewer international guests. The Maison & Objet fair team did well to drastically cut down on plastic waste and to make recycling easier than ever.
Reach out if you want constructive, straightforward feedback or my input on your design or trend projects.
It feels so long and not long ago that I worked on the Trend Bible SS21 Home & Interiors trend book in-house based in Newcastle. The trends we published in 2019 are a huge success. You can now find them anywhere: H&M HOME, Habitat, West Elm, ferm LIVING, Anthropologie, Target, Westwing, MADE.COM, Maisons du Monde, La Redoute, Dunelm, Matalan, AMARA Living Ltd., Broste Copenhagen,…
Some of you already know that I have continued collaborating with the TB team remotely. Today I have done my last review on SS23 which I creatively co-directed with Naomi Pollard. On the 5th of July, the ebook will be published. Well proud of what we have achieved. Great work, team! Special thanks to trend researcher Jamie Hannah Shackleton for going above and beyond to make this look and read as ace as it does. Think it’s the most well-rounded book I’ve worked on so far. Sooo much inspiration for designers, retailers, manufacturers and brands working around #lifeathome. Mid-July we’ll already start on the in-depth work for AW23/24 which I’ll creatively direct again.
These images are a glimpse into the making of a trend story called Urban Retreat. It was already set to have a big impact on interiors for 2021, but the pandemic has accelerated the need for green spaces within urban environments. Expect to see more architectural details influence design direction as a whole for the seasons to come.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about how I can inspire your brand on design and colour direction or finding the right narrative tone.
An interest in holistic wellness has already been growing in recent years. The global lockdowns, implemented due to the corona crisis, have accelerated the debate on the importance of nature and calming third spaces, particularly in urban areas. As the home has to integrate new functions, from work to homeschooling, an increasing number of city dwellers aims to find moments of quiet in seeking solitude in parks.
Unfortunately, many city councils have limited access to public parks in fear of the virus’ potential spread. Drawing inspiration from Japanese zen-gardens @christprecht from @studioprecht has proposed a solution for a vacant plot in Vienna with ‘Parc de la Distance’. Dense greenery, planted in spiral form, softly guides the visitor. Bringing the concept of ‘forest bathing’ to the city, the lush hedges offer much-needed space to breathe, think and recharge, whilst safeguarding social distancing.
Public spaces for respite will be paramount for the future of urban health. As a new awareness for the link between emotional and physical wellbeing has come to the fore during the pandemic, natural environments within densely populated areas will continue to be cherished even when movement is not restricted anymore.
Brands offering products and services that support householders in their quest for creating a sanctuary at home will have increasing opportunities to thrive. Helping people to incorporate calming and healthy rituals in their daily routine, will make brands stay of relevance well beyond the corona crisis.
Circular economy and zero waste were amongst the big buzz words before the coronavirus sadly became the nearly all-consuming topic in recent weeks. Sustainability may have taken a backseat in public discourse, for the time being, and yet it has never been more important to reconsider how we want to use our resources.
Standing in a field of fluffy cellulose fibres on Labour Day, as I helped my brother build his house this bank holiday weekend, I found myself thinking about waste materials and the meaning of sustainability as a whole.
Cellulose, derived from paper waste, has excellent thermal qualities. Naturally moisture-regulating, this recycled material only needs mixing with mineral salts and milling to become resistant against rotting and fire. Available in abundance, it is also a more affordable alternative, than many other natural materials for floor insulation, such as hemp or wool waste products.
Insulation materials may not draw as much attention on Social Media, than uber-styled, zero waste personal care flat lays. However, choosing sustainable building materials has potentially a much higher impact on our environment. This is not to say the many small personal efforts, people make towards a bigger goal, are not beneficial. I just wish we looked at sustainability more holistically.
As I was evenly spreading the cellulose fibres my mind wandered to other waste materials, that impressed me in recent years. I remembered seeing Jessica den Hartog´s ‚Recoloured‘ prototype series, for the first time in real life, during the London Design Festival 2018. Since then, the material-forward designer has evolved to become a sustainable plastic expert. She has collaborated with numerous creatives, to give a new lease of life to post-consumer plastic waste.
As opposed to industrially recycled HDPE (a type of plastic often used for household detergent containers etc.), which is fused to form a grey mass, Jessica manually sorts the waste plastic by colour. Using the inherent pigments she develops a beautiful portfolio of textures and products obtained from waste material.
Secondly, Dirk Vander Kooij´s ‚Meltingpot‘ series popped up before my imaginary eye. It is another fabulous example of urban mining (extraction of valuable materials from landfills). This detail shows the mesmerising effect created with polycarbonate sourced from thrown out CDs. Unfortunately, the CD has been an invention like many others, rendered obsolete within a decade, and billions will remain in landfills for many years to come.
Dirk Vander Kooij crafts captivating furniture, suited for indoor and outdoor spaces, public and private alike. The designer describes the result as waste being ‚affectionately remoulded into indestructible tables‘. His collection also sports unique chairs and benches. As I prepared the cellulose to fit under the floor, I realised Dutch design studios have been particularly strong in delivering innovative surface design lately.
Still, designers upgrading waste to something precious is a global phenomenon, that has grown exponentially in recent years. My hands-on experience, working with the cellulose fibres, prompted me to remember many more naturally sustainable material innovations. One of them is ‚Totomoxtle‘, a veneer offering an intriguing and sustainable alternative to wood. Mexican product and material designer Fernando Laposse works with corn husks, an ordinary by-product in agricultural farming, to create refined, highly aesthetic designs.
Similar in essence, Israeli designer Shahar Livne´s ‚Meat Factory Bio-Leather‘, derived from slaughterhouse waste streams, utilises blood, fat and bones, which are usually just discarded. Although the vegan debate has gained momentum in previous years, global meat consumption is steadily rising.
Remembering the bio-leather brought me back full circle to my childhood, where I often spent time at my grandmother‘s organic milk farm, close to the house we currently build. I was the only vegetarian in my family since I was five years old. Nevertheless, back then it was the most natural thing in the world to watch my grandmother produce black pudding, innards specialities and sausage. After a cow was slaughtered (usually one a year) most parts were processed, as it was indispensable for small farmers since the beginning of time. These days wastefulness as a status symbol is rejected by a growing number of the general global population in theory, yet not fully lived.
To summarise, I believe true sustainability means we all need to see beyond our personal preferences and the simplified interpretation of trends. Sustainability does not just mean natural. Sustainability does not just mean plastic-free. Sustainability does not just mean vegan. Sustainability means actively supporting circular models, responsibly working with the resources we have. We need to think of all the waste created as a side product every day and re-use the base materials, once a product has reached the end of its lifespan. In a complex world, it is too uni-dimensional to just hope for a one-fits-all solution for sustainability. Valuable materials can come from the humblest of sources and products associated with a negative image.
Sometimes it needs a monotonous task like insulating a floor, to spark the idea of writing a blog article on some of the materials I discover during my research work. As a design consultant and trend forecaster, I specialise in balancing newness with sustainability and commercial viability. I closely monitor emerging tendencies in interior, material and surface design, which I predominantly share with other industry professionals. But as sustainability can´t take a backseat any longer, despite the Covid19 crisis, I want to share more insights with a broader audience.
Contact me via email@example.com if you need support on choosing the right materials, colours and finishes for your next project or your product ranges.