Kovacs Design Furniture > News > April 2017 (1) > The Europe report

The Europe report

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Milan’s annual Salone del Mobile would overwhelm most first-timers. Although Hildy Kovacs has decades of experience in negotiating this vast hub of international design, it is still an eye-opening occasion. This year Hildy and Johnny took on everything the big event had to offer.

First, the size of the show needs some context. With 24 halls, each approximately the size of New Zealand’s largest mall, visitors have to put in a real effort to get around the stands. Hildy walked up to 19km each day. Johnny states, “it’s like dealing with a city – you need to keep your wits about you to ensure the time is well spent.”

Footwear separates the serious visitors from the superficial – comfy sneakers beat Louboutin heels any day in this setting.

For the Kovacs the Salone del Mobile provides a chance to experience the many genres of their industry in one place. While it’s often a confirmation of previous design decisions, the visit allows them to map the emergence of trends too.

Worthy of note in this event was the increased longevity of pieces displayed by the large, influential companies.

“Many designs had been shown for five years, but updated with small refinements,” says Hildy. “Changing the colour or setting of a piece has a huge influence on perception – it reinforces the philosophy to spend more on good design and buy less.”

The Milan effect

While many importers will take a shotgun approach post-Salone, ordering all the perceived up-and-comers, the Kovacs know that trends don’t fit every market.

Rather, the challenge for artisans is to interpret what they’ve seen and then adapt it to suit local culture and tastes. Kovacs have proven New Zealanders are not ones for blindly following whatever is big overseas.

Hildy puts it down to the fact that more and more we are well-travelled as a culture, which allows us see the influences behind a design. We also know what we like and appreciate a piece’s function as much as its form.

Trending today

So what was big in Milan and will it take off here? After so many years designing and producing furniture for New Zealanders, Hildy and Johnny can pick it well.

Hildy thinks we’ll love the way that function has become a feature: be it an adjustable back height or folding arms, multi-functional furniture was under the spotlight. Luxurious leathers in softer colours will go a long way, as will the industrial-looking powder-coated steel.

Rather than big changes, there seemed to be a tightening of existing ideas:


  • More curves

  • A movement to the ground for settees and couches

  • Large, corner-oriented lounge settings

  • Three-dimensional sculpted forms

  • Mixed natural materials: timber and natural stone; timber/glass laminate; stone/glass laminate

  • Brushed steel

  • Chunky fabrics and fine-cropped velvet

  • Mid-hued blues and greens

Not seen:

  • Chrome

  • Hard lines

  • Rubberwood

Stray observations:

  • Pink isn’t going anywhere. It’s back as rose-copper and rose tinged pewter

  • Pastels are staying, but greys are increasingly popular

  • Silver and gold complement each other well

  • Brass is still around but don’t invest in large pieces – it’s easy to attain the hue by using smaller accents

Posted on 27/04/2017 by Kovacs

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