I can’t remember ever being as wowed by the Milan Design Week as I was by this edition. Of course I have no idea if the hundreds of thousands of other visitors felt the same but I was certainly very impressed. Maybe I just took more notice, maybe the weather was better or maybe it’s because the presentations are becoming more professional. I don’t know the reason but I know that looking at an installation has never given me goosebumps before. But this time there was no escaping them! Sometimes I found myself wandering around like a tourist in open-mouthed amazement. My camera may not have been quite on my tummy but it was constantly in standby mode.

In April Milan really is the epicentre of design and an absolute heaven for interior design professionals. Every year my design team and I spend a good week in the Italian fashion capital so that we can visit the Salone del Mobile as well as the presentations by brands and collectives throughout the city. After a few days at the main fair we spend the rest of the week in the city. At the end – having walked a whopping 75 kilometres – we concluded that this was a truly dazzling edition of the Milan Design Week. The events in the city were particularly breathtaking.

Left: stunning new Cut lamps by Tom Dixon – Centre and right: Ikea’s “Let’s make room for design” festival in an empty supermarket in the Lambrate district

Left: launch of Maarten Baas 101 chair for Lensvelt – right: Louis Vuitton collaborates with guest designers such as Marcel Wanders and Patricia Urquiola on a collection of travel furniture

We also visited the 15th century ‘Airbnb’ of Leonardo da Vinci, that is, the house where he lived while working on his masterpiece “The Last Supper”. In this stunning setting, Airbnb exhibited the personal art objects of various well-known designers. The way in which the art objects were presented amongst the existing items gave a wonderful effect.

Now an Airbnb: the house where Leonardo da Vinci lived while working on his masterpiece “The Last Supper”

My goosebump moment came in the magnificent Palazzo Francesco Turati, a palace built in the 17th century. Although located right in the hustle and bustle of Milan city centre, a sense of calm greets you as soon as you enter the courtyard. The palace has been fully restored and several rooms have been fitted out in their former renaissance style. Beautiful wooden flooring with inlaid ornamental patterns, huge doors clad with dark green velvet, wall ornaments with gold leaf and hand carved wooden panelling. It was this palace that hosted Dutch Design, what a setting!

Everything was so perfectly attuned that the designs blended into the setting. Even the platforms on which the works of art or installations were displayed had been given a print finish that could not be distinguished from the stunning parquet flooring. At one point I went outside and entered the space a second time. It gave me goosebumps all over… Anyone who knows me will tell you that (like most Zaan people) I’m rather level-headed, but here the beauty just overwhelmed me! Check out the website of the organisers of this wonderful event Masterly and you’ll get a good idea of what I mean.

My favourite project in the palace was Melissa Peen with her lovely kaleidoscopic photo prints on wallpaper. Our to-do list contained many other exhibitions, but these had such long queues that they simply didn’t fit into our schedule. Such a pity!

Left and centre: Palazzo Francesco Turati – Right: wallpaper by Melissa Peen

3 design trends

When I get home I always go through my pictures and divide them into three design trends. After giving each of them a name I work out how I’m going to incorporate them into our collection. Here are my design trends for the current year:

Mondaine: “Luxurious big city living”   

Here we see lots of dark colours such as dark blue, dark green and dark grey, cognac, orange and – making a comeback – brown. Marble and nut-wood is combined with black frames. We have a preference for soft, cuddly fabrics such as velvet and wool, and we like to have golden feet on our chair legs. When I add this mondaine style to our current trend City Chic it results in ‘Mondaine City Chic’, a style that gives your interior a richer and more luxurious feel with more depth.

Clock Time Bandit gold, shelf Son and luxury armchair and footstool Lazy Sack fit seamlessly into the ‘Mondaine City Chic’ style

Fun: “Pretentious and arty”
Could this be a reinterpretation of Memphis:
the 1980s trend that involved stacked, brightly coloured products with weird shapes? It’s certainly less extreme than the Memphis trend I wrote about before. The “Pretentious and arty” style is very colourful with lots of red, yellow and blue. It incorporates kaleidoscopic images, as you can see in the rugs by Mooi, and pixel-based images also make a frequent appearance, as in the wallpaper collection by NLXL. In addition, there is an abundance of colourful plastic, as in the Kartell lamps that provide ambient lighting that changes along with your every mood.

Altogether this trend is a jolly affair. I’ve noted the word ‘kaleidoscopic’ on my wish list and wonder what I’m going to do with it…

Left to right: rug by Moooi on the floor, NLXL wallpaper and new Kartell lighting

Princely: “Inside out”
Indoor furniture moves outdoors
We’re currently seeing terraces arranged with gorgeous, richly upholstered sofas with thick cushions, armchairs with cord or rope seats (rather than metal or wood), rugs that mark off the seating area and cute little tables that can be pulled up to the sofa. All this is for outdoors, what a great idea! No more trips to the DIY superstore for awful garden furniture… All you have to do now is wait for some fine weather (and maybe a money tree) and there’s nothing to stop you from arranging your garden as if it were a living room! By the way, our 
cooler Be Cool is perfect for outdoors!

I’ve also spotted a fourth design trend and it’s fun! I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog.