What are the current key trends in furniture design?

With the Milan Furniture Fair just around the corner we ask experts what we should be looking out for this year.

Sheridan Coakley, founder, SCP

“The decline of design art, or design as art, seems to have been replaced with a greater focus on craft and the fundamentals of making things for use.  A closer relationship between design and craft is logical, welcome and goes back to where design comes from. Design craft re-connects the designer with the materials used, and how and where something is made.”

Katie Treggiden, editor, Fiera Magazine

“I have noticed a really interesting move towards embracing imperfection. The Japanese call it Wabi-sabi and have celebrated it for centuries. It seems that the West is just catching on. Camilla Bjerre’s new collection, launched at Northmodern, is inspired by imperfection. She says: ‘I have come to realise that maybe what’s perfect is the imperfection in life. As a designer I try to embrace lucky accidents – they make things so much more interesting.’ I am hoping to see more imperfection in Milan next week.”

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Luke Pearson, director, PearsonLloyd. Image by Mark Cocksedge

“I am always trying to distill what is happening ‘out there’ but identifying a trend seems a little fruitless, if not impossible, given global communication is on a second by second basis with digital media. However, I do see a preoccupation and interest with new processes of making rather than following any one stylistic whim or doctrine. It’s a kind of invention with construction rather than invention around function. In many ways it’s more relaxed and playful and this is a refreshing antidote to the commercial, although it does often ignore more practical questions. A result of the shear number of designers and dwindling companies willing to produce, or simply opportunity? Regardless, it represents a new business model albeit bespoke and small scale – a kind of digital craft.”

Christopher Jenner, interior designer

“Trend-based design is the stuff those global brands do to ensure they meet their bottom line, yet today’s consumers are far too empowered to be dictated to – everyone has an opinion and an idea of what works for themselves. From the perspective of a designer there can be no place for trends. 
For design to be considered the product of innovation and enquiry it needs to come primarily from within. Trends are an ever-repeating loop of the same cycle – copper, colour, marble, brass, ceramic – they are there all the time, what’s essential is the matter of interpretation and sense of connection.”

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Sebastian Conran, chief executive, Sebastian Conran Associates

“As Joseph Wedgwood paradoxically observed: ‘Fashion is infinitely more significant than merit’. So one reason why we go to Milan is to absorb the zeitgeist and prevalent trends, however these days we see quite a bit on blogging websites such as Dezeen and DesignBoom. But we cannot really view the world through ‘Google Goggles’ – to get a proper perspective of such things, we need the visceral experience.  I just hope we will see something truly new and original this year; so out with plundering the world’s resources of marble and copper and in with intelligent technology and ‘Smart Homes’ perhaps?”

Credit for index image, SLV: Saverio Lombardi Vallauri.

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