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Nature's finest

by Evelien Reich - Editor-in-chief ELLE Decoration & ELLE à Table NL

Earlier this month, as I was packing my bags for my annual visit to Milan, I suddenly thought: do all those designers and brands really have something new to share? The last fair was only 8 months ago, but fortunately it soon became clear that the last edition was merely a dress rehearsal for this year’s real thing. I should have known, really, because my dance card showed more names than ever before: apparently, everyone was dying to show new designs. A lot of brands went all out with their presentations, both in town and at the fair. Making up for lost time. And, admittedly, a stand that offers an experience will stay with you for longer, and many presentations were almost cinematographic.

I feel as if the question ‘how do we want to live?’ is at the heart of the Salone and it is always interesting to me to see the answers and main themes. If you look closely, there are always similarities and by putting these together, an image of the status quo will, almost automatically, emerge. For instance, we noticed that Nature continues to inspire and increasingly influences interior design. The demarcation between inside and outside had already become more diffuse but, today, has gone almost entirely. This was noticeable not only in the furniture, where you can barely distinguish outdoor from indoor, but also in the stand design at the fair.

Indoor gardens with undulating elevations and integrated planters featured in various places: greenery is no longer mere non-committal decoration but is becoming an architectural part of the interior. Along with an organic idiom, there is ample attention for natural materials with an expressive look, such as irregularly veined natural stone, (reflective) glossy metals and dark woods with striking patterns. And what you don’t see: the innards of many a piece of furniture get a green update. There is still much to gain in sustainability, but the awareness of the need for change is definitely there.
Rarely had there been so much colour in Milan, from psychedelic technicolour to the softest combinations of whites, and everything in between! And yet, the colours that stuck with me most, were those based on nature, in al its complexity. Green was noticeably absent and made way for warm, earthy tones such as honey, tobacco and turmeric, and fresh accents such as lavender, butter and clear sea blue. In addition to all these forces of nature, the ‘Lightness’ theme was widely embraced.

After a tumultuous couple of years, there is a need for a serene, positive feeling of wellbeing, supported in the home by subdued, airy design in a soothing, almost ephemeral colour palette. Comfort is leading and I must admit that I never sat on so many comfortable chairs and sofas before.

Lightness was also there in the literal sense, with the many lighting novelties. Often an afterthought in interior design projects, which is a pity because few elements affect the atmosphere in a home as much as a good lighting plan. A more prominent role for lighting? An excellent idea, as far as I’m concerned.

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