Salone del Mobile Milano

Trend Research: Playful Home

Our house has a multiple personality, child-oriented during the day and more adult in the evening. It can seem serious and minimalist but it is capable of turning into a play area at the drop of a hat

(Yves Béhar, designer, in an interview with Living).


Design goes through periodical pop and playful phases in terms of design and style approach which, in the current socio-cultural climate, is particularly suited to interpreting the informal, hybrid style that home living is assuming. The playful relationship that develops with furniture, objects and spaces is not just an expressive trend – it also encapsulates a new attitude to home living.

The Kiev-based KI Design architectural practice has converted an early 20th century habitation complete with  “distraction”: a slide that descends from the upper floor, through the kitchen, to the living room, as an alternative to the “canonical” stairs. The feature - faintly reminiscent of a work by the artist Carsten Höller – was devised to make the interaction between the spaces less monotonous and predictable and to mark out the home as a place of amusement, not just a place for rest and entertaining.


What shines through, looking at similar examples, is people’s desire to be constantly surprised and stimulated, even in those places most familiar to them, in a more or less conscious bid to retrieve their “lost” sense of childhood wonder. Architects and designers are coming up with ironic and very humorous proposals in response to this.

It is this that informs ranges of furnishings and accessories that become toys for grownups and which – with their soft, sinuous shapes and daring colours – make people smile and feel happy. One such example is Qeeboo, the brand created by Stefano Giovannoni, who brought in designers such as Andrea Branzi, Front, Richard Hutten, Marcel Wanders and Nika Zupanc for his first collection, precisely because they espouse this playful manner of thinking outside the box with emotionally driven, figurative creations.

Rabbit Chair is symbolic of the entire collection. A rabbit-shaped chair available for adults and for children, it leaves ample scope for the imagination, including the way in which it is used – one can sit astride it or rest one’s back against the ears – proving to be an unexpected yet functional object.

In this context, the trend for child-sized furnishing is gathering strength, with brands and companies seeing it as a new market segment with myriad opportunities for expression and design.

This macro-trend takes two main forms and can be split into two micro-trends: Funny Living and, precisely, KiDesign.