Euroluce  made its bi-annual appearance in Milan last week as part of the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile  furniture fair at Fiera Milano Rho just outside Italy’s fashion capital. A staggering 320,000 attendees take part -- that’s more than twice the attendance at the Consumer Electronics Show, just to put it in perspective.
The crowds boost the excitement and energy level at an event that’s already elevated in terms of its elaborate booth displays. These stunning temporary presentations often feel like art installations that celebrate design for its own sake -- and the designers behind the creations.
With such abundant originality in each booth, it’s hard to discern “trends” per se, but at this year’s show, there were a few recurring themes worth noting:
Design potential of LED. This compact and increasingly practical light source is like a new toy in the hands of designers eager to explore new forms. The most common use of LED seemed to be to hide it around the perimeter of a shape and graze a surface at the center, sometimes bringing out raised designs, textures or trompe l’oeil effects of dimensionality. Only a few of the contemporary exhibitors didn’t integrate LED, speculating that retrofit bulb options would allow LED to be used if desired. But in my view, this misses the point of taking advantage of LED’s unique properties.
Mixed media. The incorporation of wood into frames of lamps and fixtures may not feel new since we’ve seen that already stateside, but it was groundbreaking for many glass manufacturers at Euroluce. When your reputation for a particular craft dates back centuries, as it does for many of these Italian exhibitors, you’re very deliberate about selecting other materials to sit alongside your masterpieces. Walnut was the most popular choice, which had the right richness to hold its own with mouth-blown glass.
Glossy or ghostly white. Gloss white finishes are another trend already present here as well, but the contours of the sculptural shapes seen at Euroluce just seemed sexier in application. Polished chrome accents were an equally sleek complement. In a more organic vein, matte and textured white finishes conveyed a purity of form in fabrics, papers and fiberglass. These looks had very little, if any, additional adornment or framing to potentially kill the ethereal mood.
Retro modern. Nostalgic silhouettes felt delightfully ironic when they housed cutting-edge LED technology. Classic Midcentury Modern styles were exaggerated to emphasize the reference but also indicate that it was only a jumping-off point to take us into the future. The retro vibe was present in display as well as in design, from LZF’s  Blue Note-inspired album art to Ares’  homage to Studio 54.
You’ll find more trends from Euroluce — and plenty of visuals to accompany them — in our June Dallas Market issue.