London Design Week 2018: the new trends

New trends are on display, putting the kitchen at the centre of the house

One of the most interesting aspects of a trip is having the opportunity to see things from another perspective. And if every metropolis in the world claims a voice when it comes to events dedicated to the arts, each of these events is precious because it offers a unique reading key, dictated by the city itself.

Take design: Design Week in Milan attracts the curious and experts in the field as an institution since 1961. Design Week in London, now in its 16th edition, captivates for its ability to look at design from another perspective that winks at contemporary art, inside a city that is a perfect union between history and innovation.

In this edition, which took place from 15th to the 23rd of September, more than 400 design events, projects, public conferences and installations animated the city's 11 official Design Districts, ranging from Shoreditch's Design Triangle in the east to the Design District in Marylebone in the west, including the Victoria&Albert Museum (V&A), which blew out the tenth candle as the official hub of the design week. In addition, 2018 marked the return of the London Design Biennial, inaugurated in 2016, which took place in the setting of Somerset House.

A lot of ideas, of course. However, the main players in the sector seem unanimous in putting the future of design in the hands of four key principles: rediscovery of tradition and conviviality, materials and technology.

There are also many innovative events around these themes, such as the installation designed by Scholten&Baijings for Fortnum&Mason, the high-end department store in London, which has created ad hoc installations related to the 5 o'clock tea ceremony, every day, throughout the duration of the fair, with a 6-metre table, 80 different products from around the world, and ceramics designed in Arita, Japan.   

Or even the water fountain brought forward by the famous Cypriot designer Michael Anastassiades, who in order to face the almost total disappearance of public fountains in cities, supplanted by plastic bottles, has created a bronze fountain inspired by historical fountains in John Madejski Park, in the heart of the V&A Museum, to drink and fill one's plastic bottle. "It had to be more of an experience than a place to stop and fill a bottle," says Anastassiades, "It had to blend in with the environment and not try to attract attention.

It is also interesting how the big names in design left room for young, deserving newcomers. In particular, the new generations of designers are focusing on devising new solutions to the problems faced by young people today in urban housing contexts, such as lack of space: this is how the Portable Kitchen was created by Yu Li, a young designer who has just graduated from the Royal College of Art, who created a mini-kitchen, called Assembly, a suitcase complete with all basic functions: a chopping board, an induction hob, a pot and a pan, a case for utensils and cutlery, a plate rack and a portable box.

And if the kitchen is one of the places where innovation has always been experimented with, many trends have been (re)found and confirmed in the kitchen, such as the increasingly widespread rise of sustainability, recycling and recovery of waste materials from other processes. If 2018 marked a return to craftsmanship in design, capable of giving warmth and shape to the objects that surround us, the race for technology has implemented it (and continues to do so) to simplify everyday activities.

The new trends in the field of cooking all focus on the same goal: a return to tradition that sees the recovery of the kitchen as the fulcrum of everyday life within the walls of the house. Our modern modus vivendi is in fact about the rediscovery of sociability: the kitchen is back to being the place where people love to stay and carry out their daily activities, as well as, of course, cooking. The act of eating itself is convivial, and influences the study of spaces and housing flows.

Kitchen 2.0 is enriched with automatic functions, to simplify even the smallest actions with innovative integrated technologies that are being developed: for example, the camera in the door of the refrigerator that will offer you the opportunity to see what you have inside the refrigerator directly on your Smartphone, while you are at the supermarket. 

Multidisciplinary and multi-purpose spaces, functionality reduced to the essential, minimal forms. There is less to look at, and what remains must be beautiful and functional. Innovative, stain-resistant materials, with attention to detail and moulded into simple, clean shapes, dictate the law in the kitchen furniture, which is enriched at the same time with convivial living areas that invite you to spend the day. So that the kitchen becomes a new living room, the beating heart of the house, and the perfect setting for your everyday life. 

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