This Is the Future of Design (According to What I Saw at Milan Design Week)

published Apr 20, 2017
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(Image credit: Hanna Särökaari )

I do not attempt to hide my love for trend spotting. Seeing what’s on the horizon for design makes me giddy. I’m not a slave to trends, as I believe that you should buy what you like because you like it (although I must admit I recently purchased a “millennial pink” vase, but only because I loved the shape and it was on clearance and I make no apologies). However, there is something to be said about celebrating new talent and trying to decipher how their ideas fit into the current design zeitgeist.

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There are few better places to do just that than at SaloneSatellite, the satellite show to Milan’s behemoth furniture fair Salone del Mobile which focuses on showcasing the work of new designers 35 years and under. In its 20th year, this annex has become a literal breeding ground for what we’re likely to see in the mainstream, regularly hunted by bigger manufacturers/brands, talent scouts buyers and beyond for fresh ideas and creative directions.

So what caught my eye when I visited SaloneSatellite this year? Out of the hundreds of booths, these are the 10 that made me do a double take:

(Image credit: Luomo Collective)

Luomo Collective

From the minds of up-and-coming Finnish designers Hanna Särökaari, Elina Ulvio and Laura Väre, Luomo Collective showcased stunning sculptural lighting (as seen in the lead of this post), as well as these incredibly clever mirrored trays-cum-wall art. The booth was buzzing with excitement and admirers, and for good reason.

(Image credit: David Derksen)

David Derksen

It felt like the name David Derksen was on everyone’s lips in Milan this year. The Dutch designer’s modern, elegant pieces, including the new Aero collection of lighting above, stood out for their minimalism 2.0 (simple forms with unexpected detailing, materials and finishes).

(Image credit: Bright Potato)

Bright Potato

I admit, I stopped at Bright Potato first and foremost for the name of the brand, but their display of Flow (this seat/sculpture above), is what made me stay. The artistic furnishing really celebrated the simple and humble line in a quite striking way.

(Image credit: Adriano Design)
(Image credit: Adriano Design)

Adriano Design

Created specifically for the 20th anniversary of SaloneSatellite, this acrylic stationary bike by Adriano Design was a total showstopper. Entitled Fuoripista, it expressed the idea of “everyday luxury”, a common thread throughout the show.

(Image credit: Spitsberg)
(Image credit: Spitsberg)


I just loved this little movable wardrobe by Spitsberg. Never has a freestanding closet looked so chic.

(Image credit: Mendel Heit)

Mendel Heit Design Lab

Color was the name of the game at this year’s Salone del Mobile; I just adored these sweet lamps by Mendel Heit for their mix of rugged concrete bases, shiny brass tubing and vulnerable glass shades.

(Image credit: Chmara Rosinke)


In chatting with Ania Rosinke—one half of Chmara.Rosinke—at her booth about the brand’s stunning projects (which also included their very first rug design not shown in this image), I learned that all their pieces are about taking the simples geometric forms, adding them together, and creating something totally new.

(Image credit: Olivia Lee via Dezeen)
(Image credit: Olivia Lee via Dezeen)

Olivia Lee

Singaporean designer Olivia Lee‘s new Athena collection explores “our intimate relationship with technology”. Her delicate vanity table is optimized for taking selfies, while her Arena rug was specifically and purposefully designed with differing textures that helps you avoid walking into walls while virtual-reality gaming. You can read more about the line at Dezeen.

(Image credit: CT Lights)
(Image credit: CT Lights)

Chris Basias

Chris Basias of CT Lights and I became fast friends upon my walking into his booth. The vivacious Greek designer, who’s working on a few top-secret collaborations with some bigger stateside companies (he wouldn’t tell me who!), had honestly some of the best lighting at all of Milan Design Week. My initial stop at SaloneSatellite, I was instantly drawn to his work upon first sight of his jaw-droppingly gorgeous lighting, which marry Grecian marble, brass and LED tube lighting in the best way possible.

(Image credit: Truly Truly)

Studio Truly Truly

I know Truly Truly’s Wove chair is rather simple in form, but there was something so refreshing about the layers of straight and curved wires that came together in surprising ways.