Award-winning lighting & furniture designer Sergio Orozco reveals the trends that rocked this year’s Euroluce lighting show, part of Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.
(Q1) EnLIGHTenment Magazine: What were the top color trends you observed?
Sergio Orozco: Milan is a garden of hues, visual delights, and colorful feelings – most of them presented in bright white booths. Strong, bold colors gave a touch of freshness to timeless, classic looks. I also noticed that earthy tones and natural palettes were widely represented, some with the color more saturated than others to highlight the more unique product. Cool hues were used to either create contrast or to unexpectedly provide a relaxed look in a loft setting.
The common denominator in color seemed to be in a range of greens, with subtle tints of yellow, petroleum hues, and vanishing blues. My favorites were those provided by the materials themselves or interwoven.
(Q2) EM: Was incandescent still being featured?
SO: Italian design is passionately in love with technology and both incandescent and LED seem to enjoy, flourish, and co-exist beautifully. The king [light source] of Milan was truly LED – in every combination or format possible – but halogen is still abundant. The nostalgic Edison filament bulb [which is so popular lately in the U.S.] was surprisingly in evidence and used in contrast with so much LED and halogen. It is obvious that the Early Electric look is echoed internationally, as it adds a romantic touch that recalls a lost era.
(Q3) EM: Were there more LED-based fixtures on display this year?
SO: Yes, LED is here to stay and continues its metamorphosis through a plethora of applications and looks. We are just about to reach the same lumen output of incandescent bulbs at the right price – and that is a key ingredient to its successful adoption. The only area yet to mature is the color temperature; it still seems too cool, but many companies have achieved fantastic results to address this issue by using diffusers, color filters, and other technology. Soon we shall have many wonderful LED light sources with sensational fixtures that will change the residential lighting landscape. The use of LED is superb in portables, task lamps, and accent lighting. In ceiling fixtures, the style appears to be highly contemporary.
(Q4) EM: Was there a trend for ultra-contemporary or is traditional still strong?
SO: I love this quote by Albert Einstein (to me, he was also a poet): “Let’s not pretend that things will change if we keep doing the same things.” At the Milan show, change was in the air. Innovation and fresh design acted as the currency and demonstrated that any dream is possible; any idea is welcome to be turned into reality and given a chance to breathe.
Italian designs have always been at the forefront of modern design with clean, sleek, and minimalist style in contrast with the country’s Renaissance architecture and interiors. I must confess that among the sea of contemporary designs, I also saw good traditional, transitional, urban, nostalgic, and hand-crafted products. I was most pleased to see American brands such as Fine Art Lamps, Hinkley, Quoizel, Savoy, Flambeau, and Feiss on display at Euroluce, courtesy of Elstead Lighting from the U.K. Milan has truly become a stage of products from all over the world, embracing all cultures, materials, and inspirations.
(Q5) EM: What was your overall impression of Euroluce?
SO: It was fantastic. No other country in the world nurtures artists, designers, and architects as much as Italy does. The culture of design is what propels the Milan fair into a continuous renaissance of products, emotions, technological advances, and a huge global business market. America has a lot to learn in this area. For example, it must learn to consider designers as an asset and not a liability. As more U.S. companies show in Milan and other international markets, this will change. I must say that for the first time, Ford Motor Company was at Euroluce with a chair, a watch, and an LED lamp. I applaud Ford for going beyond cars and entering the residential home furnishings market.
(Q6) EM: What impressed you most as a designer?
SO: I appreciate the intellectual philosophies, the evolutionary directions, and the blend of little-known student talents as well as the mega-renowned architects such as Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Jean Nouvel, whose lighting designs were shown at Euroluce along with a special presentation in Pavilion 24 called “Office for Living.” These great personalities bring inspiration, provoke revolutionary ideas, and encourage artists and designers to adopt a fearless attitude to express their ideas freely. Their kind of thinking truly challenges the status quo of the design business in Milan with a global resonance.
(Q7) EM: Where do you see European designers going in regard to “fashion” in lighting?
SO: The Milan fair itself – with 2,500 exhibitors – has already four distinctive avenues where fashion can be found by style: Design, Moderno, Classico, and Euroluce. Armed with great sensibility, modern background in their DNA, European aesthetics, visual gusto, and audacious creations, European designers seem to promenade themselves in the highways of “execution,” where industrial processes are used along with “complexity,” where a hint of hand-made is infused into the products via rope, textured copper, galvanized and hand-hammered metal, plus hand-woven fabric.
As I had expected, the “ecological” trend had doubled since the last fair. Design and craftsmanship celebrated the marriage of glass, wood, metal, ceramics, and LEDs with a wide range of solutions. The Early Electric trend was prevalent at the fair as well as outrageous ultra-modern designs featuring LED. Additional trends that I noticed revolved around lifestyle sentiments rather than “fashion” itself: Cross-cultural, Terrazza/Patio, The Natural, Rugged, Outdoor, Nostalgia, Casual, and Pret a Porter.
(Q8) EM: Which European design elements do you think will cross over to America?
SO: Today our markets are global and the influence of Italian designs is paramount not only in furnishings, but in cars, clothing, and jewelry. The USA is still a traditional market, due to the interiors people have in their homes, but I see a firm movement toward cleaner, stylish, and better-designed home furnishings that will not upset the children or offend the grandparents. Due to the great access to design information via the Internet regarding style, trends, and fashion, the design and culture train will soon establish a better dialogue as a natural response to the changes in our way of living as well as new generations and the global marketplace. Personally, I think we in America have some great designs that will, in turn, inspire Europe. Yes, a new Lamborghini will take your breath away, but a new Apple product will delight you as well.