Dezeen Magazine

Dezeen's 10 trend predictions for Milan design week 2016

Milan 2016: with Milan design week just around the corner, the Dezeen team present their pick of the trends already emerging from the world's biggest and most important design fair.

This year's Milan design week takes place from 12 to 17 April 2016. Dezeen will be out and about for the duration of the five-day event, using #milanogram2016 on Instagram to provide previews of exhibitions and installations, as well as images of the best products and parties across the city.

We've identified some of the key trends we think will be spotted and talked about around the city:

Design for children

H-horse by Nendo for Kartell
Nendo's transparent plastic rocking horse will be presented at Kartell's booth at the Salone del Mobile furniture fair, where Front's rocking horse for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna will also be on show

Nendo and Front have both revealed rocking horses that will be on show in Milan, and we're expecting to see plenty more brands launching products for younger users. Italian brand Kartell is set to launch a full range of plastic children's furniture, and Marcel Wanders will present a collection of embroidered high chairs, bouncers and rockers.

See more design for children »

Compact living

Grid clothing rail by Thomas Schnur for Milan 2016
Thomas Schnur's gridded storage system is one of many space-saving products that will be on show at an exhibition titled Another Perspective 4

As more and more city dwellers are escaping escalating house prices by living in smaller, more flexible spaces – we predict designers to continue responding with furniture that makes the most of every inch of the floors, walls, and even the ceiling.

We saw a few examples at last year's event, including Karimoku New Standard's wooden chairs that stack like supermarket trolleys, but we're expecting a bigger emphasis on this for 2016.

A number of space-saving products will be on show at an exhibition titled Another Perspective 4, which takes place at Ventura Lambrate. German designer Thomas Schnur will present his gridded storage system than can be used to display plants and hang up clothes, and Studio248 will exhibit a cabinet-on-wheels with hidden storage compartments.

See more space-saving furniture »

Design for refugees

Wearable Habitation by Royal College of Art students
Students from London's Royal College of Art designed a prototype coat for refugees that transforms into a tent or a sleeping bag in January this year. We're expecting to see other students creating design solutions for refugees during Milan design week

Many designers have already proposed solutions to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, and we're expecting the topic to continue to be prevalent in Milan.

The projects will most likely come from students, after Design Academy Eindhoven creative director Thomas Widdershoven told Dezeen that young designers more interested in responding to real-world problems than making beautiful objects for collectors.

See more design for refugees »

Chinese design brands

Valet Collection by David Rockwell for Stellar Works
Stellar Works is one of a host of brands established in China that will be exhibiting during design week

A host of entrepreneurial architects and designers from China who have recently set up their own furniture and homeware brands will be exhibiting during design week. Neri&Hu and Stellar Works are among these brands aimed at both the eastern and western markets.

Also, an exhibition titled Alamak! Design in Asia will bring together 12 designers in hopes of making a "contemporary impression on the perception of what design in Asia is".


Nim copper and Jesmonite table by Pinch
London design studio Pinch is one of many design studios presenting products made from Jesmonite in Milan next week

Resin composite material Jesmonite is becoming increasingly popular in the design industry, and has recently been used by artist Hilda Hellström to create her Erosional Remnant installation for London's Ace hotel and by designer Ariane Prin in her debut homeware collection of rusty bowls.

London studio Pinch will be among those presenting products made from the material – showing its Copper Nim coffee table at an old Milanese shoe shop in San Gregorio.

See more Jesmonite design »

Zaha Hadid products

Lamellae Twisted Cuff by Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid's Lamellae Twisted Cuff for Danish design house Georg Jensen, which she designed earlier this year

The architecture and design communities are still reeling from the sudden death of Zaha Hadid, who passed away following a heart attack last week.

Earlier this year, the architect released a popular range of silver jewellery for Danish design house Georg Jensen, and we're looking forward to seeing some more of her last design projects at the fair, including a table for Italian brand Sawaya & Moroni.

See more stories about Zaha Hadid »


Drones are expected to be a trend at this years Milan design week
Drones will be used by both Danish brand Hay and designer Lee Broom to film their installations during Milan this year

Always controversial, drones are proving useful as a tool for architects and designers to showcase spaces which wouldn't otherwise be seen by the general public.

During Milan, both Danish brand Hay and British designer Lee Broom are using the unmanned aircrafts to film their installations – giving those who can't attend the festival a 360-degree view of what they are missing out on.

See more stories about drones »

Stained glass

Aquário cabinet by Campana brothers
The Campana brothers' Aquário cabinet is one of many stained- and coloured-glass designs we predict to see during Milan design week

Following last year's trend for transparent glass furniture, designers including Patricia Urquiola are moving on to stained and coloured glass.

We've already seen a cabinet with green glass windows by the Campana brothers for BD Barcelona Design, and Urquiola will be launching a series of cupboards, screens and tables influenced by church windows for Spazio Pontaccio.

See more stained glass design »

Corporate marketing

Wooden Toyota Setsuna concept car for Milan design week 2016
Toyota has created an open-top two-seater vehicle made out of wood for their first appearance at Milan design week

Milan's largely furniture-focussed annual event has long been used by big brands from other sectors of the industry as a promotional platform, but their presence is ever-growing and becoming inescapable.

Car companies including Toyota and Lexus, and sports brands like Nike are all using the event to garner attention through commissioned projects and installations, and of course parties.

Rethinking office furniture

Boring Collection by Lensvelt and Space Encounters
Lensvelt's collection of "boring" office furniture is intended to "restore the balance between work and play" in the workplace. It will be on show at Ventura Lambrate next week

Wacky office furniture is over, and brands are creating inconspicuous chairs and desks that blend into the workspace.

Dutch furniture brand Lensvelt will present its collection of intentionally "boring" office furniture at an installation at Ventura Lambrate, whilst Ercol will be launching a contemporary range of home study furniture at the Salone del Mobile fair.

See more office furniture design »