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Designers’ Experience of Milan: Narelle Cuthbert

Heading up the Interior Design division at Plus Architecture, Narelle Cuthbert brings over a decade of experience working with some of Australia’s most highly regarded interior design practices. We sat down for a talk about the 2015 Milan design fair.

Designers’ Experience of Milan: Narelle Cuthbert


May 6th, 2015


Leading the way for interior designs at Plus Architecture, Narelle will streamline the creative process with an integrated approach between architecture and interior design. Narelle believes in the practicality and functionality of space and the integration of light into living areas.

With an ability to interpret a brief and produce a beautifully crafted interior, she brings to Plus her aesthetic and know-how of working across integrated developments while offering an extension to Plus’ design services.

Known for her bold use of colour and innovative materials, Narelle is passionate about authentic, well-crafted design, receiving industry recognition in 2013 for the interior design of a TriBeCa loft in New York City.

How would you describe the 2015 Milan Design Fair in one sentence?

Milan 2015 brought with it the Memphis group’s influence on bold textile designs and colours sharply contrasted by sleek glass joinery and high impact showroom installations.


What has/have been your favourite:
three products this year?

Big Will by Philippe Starck for Magis, is the extendable dining table we have all been waiting for. This super stylish table with two wheels suits both residential and commercial projects due to its multifunctional design and monochromatic finishes palette.
• Absolu sofa by Francesco Bingaré for Edra. Edra’s patented foam technology wrapped in midnight blue velvet is perfection. Carrying on from the success of the Cloud sofa in 2013, Francesco Bingaré has further developed the form of the sofa to be even more flexible and comfortable with the addition of the ‘smart pillow’ which can be used as both an armrest and backrest. This elegant sofa would suit both apartment and residential projects.
• Superloon by Jasper Morrison for Flos. The iconic Fortuny lamp originally designed by Mariano Fortuny re-imagined. This particular piece was definitely my favourite from the fair due to its simple lines, proportions and use of new LED technology.


Big Will


Absolu Sofa




Caesarstone’s display at the grand palace Palazzo Serbelloni by Philippe Malouin was a stunning juxtaposition of a playful activity in a historical setting. The eight piece swing set invited visitors to interact with the product and provide a respite from the normal showroom experience.




The Kartell goes Sottsass launch party was a riot of colour and pattern (not to mention great people watching!), featuring nine pieces of Ettorre Sottsass’ furniture designs unreleased before his death in 2007.

Newcomer’s stand?

Although not new to the design world, Tom Dixon broke away from the fair this year and showcased his latest collection in an abandoned theatre in central Milan at ‘The Cinema.’ The voluminous space provided the perfect stage for Tom’s Dixon’s perfectly curated scenes, showcasing new furniture and accessories available for immediate purchase. Melt spherical pendants suspended in the entry created a liquid metal effect that greeted guests before opening up to the main showroom space where candy coloured Wingback Chairs were displayed.

Tom Dixon Chairs

Tom Dixon Chairs

What is the 2015 Milan:


Pantone’s colour of the year Marsala paired with dusky blues was evident in fabrics and room settings creating moody and intimate scenes. In contrast, more neutral and lighter settings were punctuated with sunny yellow pieces. Houndstooth patterned fabrics in a variety of scales and colours were popular with many furniture brands such as Missoni, Zanotta and B&B Italia. An interesting trend to watch in Australia will be the return of the Memphis Group through bold patterns and colours which were re-imagined at Kartell and Cappellini.


Zanotta Houndstooth


Perforated metals were popular once again, displayed on furniture lighting, joinery pieces and fair stands. This year Diesel Living launched a new range of Perf joinery pieces, the Work is Over furniture collection and Hexx table lamps all featuring perforated metal. Chunky knitted and woven textures were evident on chair and sofa backs at Poltrona Frau, Kettal and Tribu which provided a textural contrast to more softer and tactile fabrics.

What product and/or trend at Milan do see being most relevant to the Australian market?

Overall the products, use of materials and finishes on display this year will translate well to the Australian market. With a strong market focus on kitchens, the Plus team is looking forward to experimenting with glass, stone and metals in a different way as joinery finishes paired with warmer timbers such as Walnut.

Tom Dixon Pendants

Tom Dixon Pendants

What did you personally take from and/or learn at the fair?

This year Milan Design Week re-affirmed that the work Plus is producing and our collaborations with local manufacturers, is on par with current European trends. In particular, a large commercial project we are currently working on features varying scales of a Houndstooth pattern in custom carpets, rugs and fabrics. Perforated metal also feature in many of our current multi-residential projects as an alternative textural joinery finish.


What has been the highlight of your time in Milan?

It is always inspiring to be surrounded by such beautiful products and settings in one place. No other event on the design calendar brings architects, designers and manufacturers together from around the world on such a grand scale.

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