ACIIID Trend Report On Milan Design Week 2022: What’s Next For The Post Pandemic World
This year’s Milan design week is said to have brought back life and energy in comparison to the pre-pandemic counterparts of the event. There were apprehensions and expectations as to how the pandemic affected the design scene. As international collaborators and visitors flock to the exhibit, the amalgamation of minds kickstarted several trends from aesthetics, lifestyle, design tech, and materials, all of which may dictate what post-pandemic life can be.
The evolution of recognized drivers from the past two years, such as wellness, emotions, sustainable living, and virtuality, continues to drive towards the new normal. Designs and breakthroughs from the pandemic now evolve to cater to post-pandemic life. Innovations and social responsibility go hand-in-hand; the dichotomy of community creation through virtuality; and emotions for expressions of vulnerability. All of these answer to the world’s current needs for empathy, equality, and community.
Our search for comfort, wellness, and yearning has shifted how we perceive forms and expressions. We take comfort in the presence of fluidity and spontaneity that allows us to create a sense of refuge or to express vulnerability freely. “Fluid Figures” as ACIIID have coined for this micro-trend, evolved from the comforting neotenic aesthetic into more sensual forms, focusing on personal expressions and representations of diversity.
As we continuously remember life before the pandemic and also look more hopeful for the future, we become more open to emotions and expressions. Just like our previous Macro trend, E(motiva)tions, we noticed that brands and designers used emotional colors to become a medium to express nostalgic styles and memories. It also becomes an allegorical display of people’s stories, experiences, and dreams. With the innovations in material and application, colors also become immersive for sensorial therapy.
Reinventing heritage is one of the longest-tracked trends by ACIIID. The trend initially started as part of marketing stints of brands promoting the “new normal travel lifestyle”. However, it also became one of the promising trends as its patterns manifested in other microtrends thus “reinventing” the notion of heritage and cultural preservation. It resulted in innovations in materials, interior design, ephemerals, and visuals.
The ever-evolving trend of greentervention has stepped up its game on material and object innovation. It searches for adaptation to the new normal through union on aesthetics, function, and social responsibility. Architecture and interior projects now sought “to be incorporated” to nature rather than “incorporating ” nature into the spaces. Upcycling and recycling efforts are now not just part of expressive installations but are foreseen as part of consumerism.
One of the rapidly evolving facets of design falls under Design Technology, where people seek connection, innovation, and sensation when isolation is at its peak during the pandemic. Several brands introduced virtual technology, which brought innovative ways to connect visual aspects of virtual reality into the real world. In contrast, others infused their designs with smart technology for a well-calibrated design experience. Milan Design Week portrayed a number of unique phygital spaces that implemented Sensi/o Tech, a sentient technology trend of smart feelings. This was manifested through interactive worlds for expressions, explorations, and innovations. Some installations created activities that range from tactile, visual, and auditory, heightening awareness of what new design technology can serve.
It’s good to know some insights from other designers who keep track with the Milan Design week. Apart from having your ideas expand, you’ll be accepting of design paradigm shifts to strengthen your philosophy and ideologies in the field.
Here are some of the ACIIID team’s insights about this year’s Milan Design Week.
Milan has again become an avenue for innovative design and experiential spaces. One of the things that tantalized me during this year’s Milan Design Week is the advancement in sensory design. A number of spaces and objects were conceptualized with overcharged emotions driven by a variety of motivational factors through advanced experiential & technological approaches. From performance-based presentations like Dior to the nostalgic virtual rooms of Chromatik house, we start to see the future of Emotional Smart Design. The infusion of our E(motiva)tions and Future (R)evolution macro trends gave birth to an enthralling design trend called Sensi/o Tech. This movement may help define new design techniques, aesthetics, and concepts that could tap a variety of new or reinvented therapeutic approaches for self-discovery and care culture.
The vitality of the recent Milan Design Week has proven that creatives and design enthusiasts are craving for new inspirations, tactility, and concept directions much more now than before the pandemic. And while there are a lot of explorations and experimental works, there is also a sense of introspection that brands have undertaken, creating a deeper foundation and understanding of their ethos. And these are visible and apparent through their installations. With this year’s MDW, we can see businesses and brands have rediscovered their core values and expressed their authenticity much more than we have experienced and encountered before.
Milan design week became an important tool that addresses the apprehensions about “halted” development during the pandemic. What is crucial to realize with this event is the emphasis on mindful innovations. Designers do not create or make for the purpose of design vision or business models. There is an essence of social responsibility and respect for people’s individuality. Sustainability presents these ideas through their wellness and aesthetic explorations. It employs simulations and immersive explorations that aim to heighten the senses to strengthen the connection of sustainable design to people and to ingrain the concepts of rewilding. Amidst the exploration, sustainable designers aim to become well-rounded with culture and history by protecting and preserving the culture and environment. Loewe’s Weave, Restore, and Renew collection is a perfect example of circular economy and preservation of culture.
In this year’s Milan design week, sustainability asks the questions, “How can I incorporate myself within the lifestyle of the people,” rather than the people asking how they can incorporate sustainable living.
What I found outstanding was the Hermès show, which presented four buildings in the shape of water towers, super light despite their monumental proportions. As an architect, it’s important to use mediums such as architecture to convey a message to the viewers. The context of where the products are shown and how they are highlighted play a significant role in brand marketing. The peculiarity is that the four structures were made of wood as their structural system and then covered with colored translucent paper to radiate the light inside and out within this massive dark space. The choices of materiality, such as wood and paper assembled into four structures, conveyed the sense of timelessness which is what Hèrmes is about. At the same time, the play of gravity between its scale and the materiality made it seem very light, delicate, and soft which seemed like they were floating within this massive dark space. It was particularly interesting to see how it created a space within a space and translated that play of gravity as well inside each structure to how they highlighted their famous cashmeres and home collection with literally handmade paper.
The Milan design week is said to exceed the expectations of designers and visitors. Despite the summer heat in Milan, it did not hinder the re-establishment of Milan as a forerunner for design trends and innovations.
Written By: Maxine Panlilio of ACIIID
Trend Direction by: PJ Almera
Photos by Eliza Del Castillo And Sandra Morales