Milan Design week is back, but is it back with a bang?


This week we’ve been wondering about: what went down at Milan Design Week’s #IRL return? What’s floating retail’s boat right now, and are you as hooked on Stranger Things Season 4 as we are?!

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Did Milan Design Week’s 2022 miss the mark?

This year Milan was back – and back #IRL! The pinnacle of the design calendar. The place to go, to get your creative juices flowing. A hotbed of innovation that sets the design agenda. Or is it?...

If you look past the vast array of new product launches and furniture fairs – we usually think you’d find some absolute creative gems and thought-provoking installations dotted around the city. Or the kind of visual appeal and inspiration that everyone will use on mood boards for years to come. This year however – not so much. The installations that were there, weren’t even the most read articles on design publications like Dezeen or FRAME.

So what went down? Hermes Maison was wonderfully poetic in design. It’s what we have come to expect from Hermes. Gufram got their cactus’ out, again (albeit to celebrate the 50th anniversary). And Daniel Arsham’s installation for Kohler - while winning the equivalent of a best in show award - was very Daniel Arsham / Snarkitecture. All very expected – hence the lack of buzz feed. The only stand out for us was Porsche's 'Art of Dreams'. It makes you wonder, was it just consequence of budget cuts, or is everyone just playing things a little bit too safe? Did you go? What did you make of it?

Is the waterfront the new high-street for retailers?

These days it’s not unusual for retailers to divert from the high-street. Looking to play right into the hands of Gen-Z - a generation who actively seek out new experiences, especially those in unconventional locations.

But this has taken a new twist of late. Brands are heading off the high-street and onto the waterways. Most notably Burberry recently launched a ‘Floating Meadow’ on the Thames in London, for its Platinum Jubilee collection. And who can forget Balmain’s AW22 fashion show, presented from a boat traversing the Seine in Paris. Apple too has opened a first-of-its-kind flagship which floats on the water of Marina Bay in Singapore. As they say once is happenstance, twice is coincidence. Anything more than three is a trend.

Is it about driving differentiation? yes. Is it a novelty? absolutely. Is it a winning strategy – if executed brilliantly, you bet. Whilst we don’t advocate jumping on the bandwagon, exploring unconventional brand placements should be at the heart of your next retail brief. Break with convention. Create unique experiences. It’s the way forward.

This week we’re excited about the real life opportunities of Stranger Things

If you didn’t already know, Stranger Things has cemented itself as a pop-culture phenomenon. And it just keeps getting bigger – and better. From putting Kate Bush back at the top of global music charts – nearly 40 years after it the song was released - to placing ‘rifts’ into the Upside Down on global landmarks, there seems like there’s nothing this franchise can’t do.

Many of us here at CK have already binge watched season 4 – don’t worry no spoiler alerts. We’ve loved seeing our client at Quiksilver ride the Stranger Things hype-train with it’s current capsule collaboration (stay tuned for more on our new retail concept for them coming soon!). While Merchtainment –i.e entertainment merch - is gaining widespread appeal amongst consumers, seeing our favourite entertainment jumping off the screen and into our real-lives, is getting us really pumped up.

For example, we treated ourselves to a ‘Slice of the Upside Down” at the secret Surfer Boy pizza pop-up here in the UK. This offer of a limited-edition pizza was just too good to miss! Harry Styles also did something similar for his album drop a few weeks back with Instagrammable ‘Harry’s House’ pop-ups in multiple cities around the world. Teaser campaigns and launch activations are ramping up their #IRL appeal – moving from passive to participative – allowing people to, literally, get in on the action. While your mind races with the creative possibilities of this one, we’re off to watch Volume Two of Season 4. We can’t wait to see 11…. Oh wait, we said no spoilers!

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