mwai’s in-house interior designer, Rachel Edmunds, on lighting trends from Milan Design Week - Salone del Mobile.

The team came back from Milan Design Week ‘Salone Del Mobile’ with both sore feet and starry eyes as the exhibition trip condensed such a huge amount of interiors product research into two days.

 

We were astonished to see quality rechargeable lamps now offered by so many brands. These products tended to offer ambient mood lights rather than practical light. Through placing battery technology into tactile whimsical designs, we see mood lighting as no longer set and static within a space, but designed to be held and placed around a home, often controlled with touch and movement.

 

Above in order: Santa and Cole ‘sylvestrina’, ‘cestia batería’ and Davide Groppi ‘vis a vis’.

Like a phone or a book, a lamp is today something that you might bring with you from room to room. Historically, people would take their candle up to bed… might we begin to have this kind of intimate relationship with our lamps again, by simply holding and carrying them more? If so, we, on the interiors team must design rooms with sufficient surfaces and nooks for the placement and re-placement of portable lamplight.

Other notable lighting trends included increasingly abstracted variations of the glass orb. As shown in order below; classic examples of this include 'melt' light by Tom Dixon, but ‘madre’ a vase-lamp was new to me as was ‘iris’, a glistening wall light by A-N-D. The colourful glass on the original ‘oda’ by Sebastian Herkner for Pulpo was delightful, as if a boiled sweet. 

Diametrically opposed to these blob forms, the exaggerated lengths hinted at a restrained 90’s minimalism in some products. The tall ‘sampei 440 outdoor floor lamp’ by Davide Groppi, Ingo Maurer's 'tubular balance' or ‘the counterbalance light’ by Daniel Rybakken for Luceplan, pictured below, exibit this kind of restraint.

One of the first stands we visited set the standard high from the outset - lighting from DCW was sensitively designed and met the difficult varied requirements of lighting especially posed by bathrooms. Our top product from them was the new 'poudrier'. You can open and close the poudrier’s brass face, which allows you to naturally control the level of light for make up and for ambience. We also appreciate the ‘tell me stories’ which worked hard to provide shelving, varied mirrors and lighting in one combined solution.

It was clear that the furniture trend continues towards rounded forms reminiscent of 1970’s lounge seating - or that pale friendly sheep look typical to 60’s boucle chairs. These boulder shapes, with their ever-bulging upholstery are playful reinterpretations of the past far from accurate reproductions. With their exaggerated mass these pieces work well to solidly define seating pockets for inside and outside. Seating as sculpture or vice versa.

 

This struck a chord with us and with some of our projects in mind we considered whether exaggerating the effect further by adding oversized lamps could increase the cosiness for outdoor spaces. Baxter showed us some vibrant and nostalgic indoor and outdoor room settings, which managed to be theatrical, luxurious and tactile.

Internally, the Nuvola standing floor lamp by Baxter works well with equally oversized seating to create a bold sense of belonging. Oversized furniture can give you a snug feeling, nestled among giants. Equally, garden layouts can lack defined ‘rooms’ with that sense of snug enclosure and belonging, so was this lamp adapted for an outdoor space I believe it would be in high demand.

Overall, the move towards a more refined minimal aesthetic won my heart and although I found it too cold and harsh at first, Jonathan Olivares Knoll furniture pavilion made a personal lasting impression. It was composed of austere framing, hot red lighting and succulent planting. The exhibition pavilion was designed by OFFICE and Jeroen Provoost presented portal after portal of aluminum room settings akin to a sleek film set, with classic knoll furniture as iconic props on display. 

We love to keep up with developments in furniture and product design and look forward to the Clerkenwell design week to keep up the momentum closer to home!