Back to the Future: 70s Interiors for Hotels Feature in Milan 2017

Step forward into a new hotel, but backwards in interior design time.

If you thought the 70s-retro look was finished, think again.  The world’s leading interior design fair – the Milan Salone del Mobile 2017 – has brought it back with a flourish and a creative, modern twist.

Jasmax senior interior designer, Tessa Pawson spent five days in Milan during April, viewing the 345,000 square metres of designer exhibitions in the fairground, and around the city.  The exhibition hosts more than 300,000 visitors annually, there to see the latest from the world’s most innovative designers and suppliers such as Moooi, Paola Lenti, Minotti, Flos, Foscarini, Kartell, Edra and Andreu World.

She said the look the fair advocated in 2017 is distinctive, glamorous, and definitely retro.

“Lux velvets and viscose, layering of textures, vivid colours including throwbacks such as mustard, teal, terracotta, and vivid emeralds, glazed ceramics, animal and plant print fabrics, and a lot of steel mesh – all evoked a modern 70s look,” said Pawson.  

Whites were gone, in favour of vivid, intense and sometimes moody colour. “Colour has been making a comeback for a while now. However, this year it is back in a big way.  And designers were not afraid to use it. They had said goodbye to white – there was hardly any,” said Pawson. 

“There were unexpected mixes of tones for interiors, including for hotels and commercial interiors. Many were moody and industrial, with many settings using materials such as steel mesh, Georgian wire, bronze and platinum’s.  Copper was far less prominent than it has been in previous years. There was a trend towards oxidised and oiled finishes”

“Amongst this grey metal there was marble and stone.  Most of this stone we haven’t seen in NZ since the 1980s.  It included bright green, red or brown marbles, as well as the more popular whites.”

Many of the exhibitors were using smaller pieces of furniture, with one major, eye catching, statement piece to balance the effect. 

 “There was a clear French influence, with the appearance of softer more curved pieces. Monochromatic settings were cleverly layered with multiple textures and patterns, these were often complemented with a signature piece, a hint of bright gloss enamel or a brushed metal finish.

“There were some clever space saving designs also –  fold down furniture, items with multiple uses and modular pieces.” she says.  “Minotti, for instance, had a fabulous little curved sofa that comfortable seated 2 people that could fit into a hotel or serviced apartment quite easily.”

“Another exhibitor had a completely customisable flexible kitchen, which could be packed up into a tiny footprint.  The hob folded down, the tap was retractable into the sink.  They had made the most of current technology using induction hobs that had an integrated extractor fan.  There was a dishwasher where the bottom tray popped up so you didn’t have to bend down to unload it.  Another exhibitor had automated hideaway furniture including a study desk which folded down, into two bunk beds.   They folded up and away.”

Pawson believes that such ideas could be easily deployed in NZ apartments including serviced apartments and luxury, self-contained accommodation.

“The difference it would make for travellers is huge.  It generated a whole lot of ideas for me. New Zealand developers are becoming more open to clever ways of dealing with space when faced with small floorplates. By using some of these ideas and technologies in accommodation design, your space becomes more usable and it’s flexible.  The concepts I saw were exciting.”

In the design districts, Tessa said that technology could be seen informing design.

“A chair I saw had been CNC routed to make it look identical to a handmade one.  There was a pair of 3D printed shoes and a dress that comprised of hundreds of 3D printed links.

Other designers whose exhibits stood out for Pawson included:

                     The Minotti stand.  This alone was 2000 square metres, two storeyed with a steel spiral staircase.  “The stand was chic, with luxurious fabrics and French flair.  For me it set the tone for the entire week.” 

                     The Paola Lenti exhibit (outside the fairgrounds in an industrial site) had a full spectrum of outdoor rugs, laid out as a rainbow throughout the area it occupied.  “Each setting was cleverly set up in monochromatic hues which was complemented by a range of tones and textures. They’d also shipped in giant plants from Sicily. Their showcase was housed in an old industrial factory.  The explosion of colour provided a crisp contrast to the grungy historical building.”

                     The classic lighting design house Flos followed a minimal theme – with simple and minimalist lighting. “They had automated track lighting system that you could control with your phone. Lighting angles, location and output could all be adjusted without getting out your ladder. “