2006 Milan Furniture Fair Review, part 2: Colors and The Shape


Color is important to me, so I pay a lot of attention to the colors people are using. Two years ago it was orange and Japanese-inspired earthtones (though not together). Last year it was apple green, maybe because it complemented the previous years' orange. Light blue made an appearance, too, since it worked well with the chocolate browns that went with orange and apple green. This year there doesn't seem to be a major single color trend. Some people have gone back to the safety of orange (so to speak), and maybe it's becoming the de facto "third color," which has traditionally been red.


There's also plenty of green, but it's been greyed (grayed?) down from its most exuberant bright variations last year, which looks fresh at first, but I can imagine start to be too intense when there's too much of it. The interesting thing is that in greying apple green down you kinda get the dreaded…AVOCADO! The revenge of the 70s is now complete.


However, the industry has not totally lost its interest in color. The general concept of "color" however is still pretty popular. Groupings of basic primaries and secondaries appear all the time, not unlike the days following Apple's initial iMac introduction (though this may be an artifact of trying to make a display interesting even though 99% of what you sell is in traditional basic black, white, chrome, grey or whatever).


One of the most interesting manifestations of this multicolor approach was in the office furniture section, which had as its theme "wellness@work". I don't know what they meant by that, and it wasn't obvious from the furniture displayed, which was all pretty familiar, but the idea it seemed to be trying to communicate is that work life is better if it looks more like kindergarten. I'm dubious.


Edra, consistently one of my favorite manufacturers, had excellent, subtle taste in bold colors, something that's hard to pull off.


The Shape

One unexpected trend was the appearance of a single shape as a motif. Maybe it's just that with so many objects, there are going to be lots of trends because there are only so many ways of making stuff and people reinvent the obvious ones repeatedly, but there was this ribbed barrel shape that I noticed a lot, and it seemed to be a genuine trend. What does it mean? I don't know. The rounded right angle corners that dominate so much design come from copying Apple (and what designer doesn't get easy inspiration by riffing off Apple?), from a desire to soften the edges of hard technology, to reference the 60s/70s vision of the future (the last time the future was still optimistic) and to identify with the bent metal pipes of Marcel Breuer's Wassily Chair, again referencing a positivist attitude toward the future and technology. These basket shapes are different. I think they come from Chinese lanterns, an organic and non-Western reference, which says to me that their designers are trying to evoke a new design language. Why? I don't know yet.


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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on April 21, 2006 6:13 PM.

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