Every Salone del Mobile in Milan is exciting. It's where's the biggest furniture and design brands debut their new launches, showcasing the pieces that will ultimately influence the rest of the world over the next few months and years.
It's where interior design trends are born. And Salone del Mobile 2023 has so far been as inspiring as ever. There is a buzz in the air, as the first Salone since before the pandemic where the entire international design industry has been able to come - the enthusiasm and optimism is palpable.
So here are the pieces I've seen that mark the mood of right now - exciting, joyful and speaking of a desire for a relaxed and sociable way of life. A preview of the big decor trends for 2024 and beyond.
1. Joyful kaleidoscope of colors
As far as color trends have gone, mustards and olives seem to be emerging as key shades. But there is also an abundance of vivid patterns, digital colors pulled together to create a scheme that sings with happiness.
Above is one of the Legami rugs designed by Elena Salmistrano for Tai Ping. Hung on a salmon pink wall it burst with an exuberance I expect to see in a lot of designer schemes to come - there were hints of this at Arflex and De La Espada. Because who wouldn't want their home to make them happy?
2. Indoor and outdoor blurred
A lot of what I've seen so far centers around an informal way of life, with friends. Couches that are made for conversation, tables at heights for bar-style entertaining and the blurring of a life lived both indoors and out.
At Poliform, Marcel Wanders has designed a new set of outdoor seating that would easily look good enough to work indoors (shown in this wonderfully palatial palazzo setting, above). This approach encourages a life where you waft from one end of the living room to the terrace without pausing or noticing any aesthetic differences, and was also seen at brands such as Ethimo and Nardi.
3. The era of the small lights - plural
Lighting trends have truly seen the end of the big light, focussing instead on lightscaping. This means creating vignettes in corners with table lamps and floor lamps, with no one pausing to turn on the big light unless they've lost the TV remote and need to be able to see to look for it.
But it does seem a shame not to utilize the biggest unbroken space in the room - the ceiling. So welcome to the era of the little lights - plural. This was the year of Eurocucina, the biannual lighting fair that is part of Salone, and at Slamp's stand, above, hundreds of tulip lights hung from above. The effect was magical, like the scene with all the floating candles from Harry Potter.
4. An aged effect on durable materials
The character and charm of aged materials is undeniable, but the problem with having them in your home is how to stop them ageing further. So I was excited by Cattelan Italia's solution - to take a ceramic table top and print the effect of aging on top of it.
It's an approach Marazzi does well too - taking ceramic tiles and giving them the appearance of being handmade, slightly irregular. What this does is give you the look of a home that is full of (seemingly) careworn pieces, but that are extremely practical for family life.
5. Bar troughs
Another signifier of a desire for a hedonistic home life has been the rise of the wet bar. But if you've not got the space - or drinks collection - for an entire cabinet, why not go for a bar trough?
As seen at Minotti in this low-slung walnut sideboard - called Superblocks and designed by Marcio Kogan - a bar trough is an elegant way to make a feature of your entertaining. Ridged, marble and enticing you to have a really good time - this is only the beginning for the bar trough.
6. Floating furniture
At Edra, Francesco Binfare's new couch is on round feet, so the sofa seems to float just above the ground. At Living Divani, accent chairs almost hovered, the tiny legs set back from the front so you almost can't see them at all. And Porada's latest collaboration with Staffan Tollgard sees this Ekero bedside table, with the top just floating above the elegant marble base.
What this does is create a sense of airiness and light in and around your furniture, allowing the room to breathe and ambience to flow. I anticipate small, hidden legs to be a key shape of 2024.
7. Terracotta marbling
At Salone 2022 there was a lot of terracotta, or paprika (same difference, really). It alluded to long lazy Mediterranean afternoons, sunbaked surfaces and a general enticing warmth.
A craving for this is going nowhere, but the use of color has moved on to see it folded into marbling, as with this dresser at Galotti&Radice. It's a really subtle nod to a fiery hue, and works perfectly so as not to disrupt even the most neutral living room.
8. Olive green
Green is another color going nowhere. Its restful properties and ability to work in both north facing and south facing rooms makes it just as popular as ever. But whereas greyed-out greens have been key for ages I was intrigued by this palette of olive seen at Zanotta.
It's more interesting than a neutral, but less overpowering than a bright and - falling somewhere in the middle - just ends up feeling super-sophisticated. I expect to see this paired with mustard yellow - another color that is emerging during Salone - and perhaps a dusky pink.
The editor of Livingetc, Pip Rich (formerly Pip McCormac) is a lifestyle journalist of almost 20 years experience working for some of the UK's biggest titles. As well as holding staff positions at Sunday Times Style, Red and Grazia he has written for the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and ES Magazine. The host of Livingetc's podcast Home Truths, Pip has also published three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, was released in December 2021 and is about the homes of architects who have filled their spaces with houseplants. He has recently moved out of London - and a home that ELLE Decoration called one of the ten best small spaces in the world - to start a new renovation project in Somerset.
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