Salone del Mobile, Milano 2023

IROCO Design reports from Salone del Mobile, Milan, the global furnishing fair founded in 1961. Salone del Mobile continues to lead the world as the meeting point of creativity and commerce, with healthy living, sustainability and designing spaces being key at this year’s edition.

A more broader intervention has come into play, moving away from a simple focus of carbon cost-cutting on materials and processes. Eco-conscious concepts have been interspersed with history and heritage – brands have started to look into their archives to find stories of products that have shaped them, bringing to life the very essence of their existence in the first place.

Finnish furniture producer Artek presented its classic Alvar Aalto-designed 60 stool ‘hacked’ into new objects – chess sets, toilet roll holders and record players rose from the classic piece. Japanese brand Yamagiwa, launched a reissue of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin light fixtures in a tubular installation designed by Shigeru Ban (see image). The takeover of iconic venues was a common theme with Loewe, Spanish luxury fashion house, continuing it’s entry into the design and homeware space by showcasing a collection of chairs in the garden of the Palazzo Isimibardi.

Spaces were used that hadn’t been used before – Alcove, a massive exhibition of independent design from around them world, launched in an overgrown former abattoir. Dropcity, a conglomeration of disused industrial vaults on Via Sammartini, hosted many temporary installations with the space set to become a permanent design venue next year.

Herman Miller showed us the brand’s graphic design history, reproducing mid-century prints also available for purchase. Japan’s Karimoku Furniture launched it’s new NF Collection, made for the Foster Retreat at Martha’s Vineyard, a space for creatives, researchers, writers to contemplate solutions for the challenges facing cities.

Designed by Norman Foster, the collection stools, lounge and dining chairs, and a dining table marry the Japanese sense of calm with the aesthetics of the great architects. Outstanding products, thousands of launches, and three key categories of Classic – focusing on traditional furniture, Design – exploring innovation and functionality, and xLux – contemporary aesthetics and luxury, all nodded to a future where better use could be made of what we have: better made, more mature and longer lasting designs, rather than a constant drive for new. And as Florian Egli, senior researcher at ETH Zurich said ” I want the fair to be more than furniture, making a link with policy and the think tank space.

There’s a lot of scope for talking about how we design spaces in the international policy world”. As experts in designing spaces, IROCO Design will be there.



Salone del Mobile 60th edition

Salone del Mobile 60th edition and the citywide Milan Design Week brought the city to life like never before and IROCO Design dispatched its Tokyo team to bring our Asian clients the best and latest design trends.  Throughout the week the 20 trade halls at Milan’s Rho Fiera Milano fairgrounds and furniture showrooms across the city centre were packed with industry leaders for the world’s biggest design fair. With 2, 175 brands exhibiting, 27% of them foreign, and 600 young designers added to the fold, the city was in celebration for Salone’s 60th anniversary, where attendance totaled 260,000 visitors from 173 countries.

Highlights of our visit included Hermès’s impressive installation of four luminscent pavilions in an old sports centre with Hermes latest accessories collection all displayed on recycled carton. Hiroshima-based Maruni was back with a new talent – the Japanese furniture-maker has appointed Danish designer Cecilie Manz to create a series called En. Meaning “one” in Danish and “circle” in Japanese, En consists of wooden tables and chairs. Ton’s display stood out as a story of the brand’s evolution, a transition from the past into the future. Their three most recent collections – 822 by studio Claesson Koivisto Rune, POV by Kaschkasch and Again by Gufler were on show amongst their classic Bentwoods.  Spanish designer Jaime Hayon brought fun and free-spirit to the handcrafted rugs that he creates with Nanimarquina. His latest work, Troupe, uses a traditional hand-tufting technique to plot out an imaginative, contemporary design across the piece. Sustainability, unsurprisingly, dominated most discussions, press releases and product pitches across showrooms and exhibitions in Milan this week.

But while Salone offered the creative community a chance to observe the latest works and research from a host of designers and brands, for IROCO it was the more intimate conversations taking place around these events that left a lasting impression.

The city’s bars and cafés were packed with furniture designers from Asia, architects from the US and gallerists from Europe making connections, doing deals and talking about their plans for designing a better world. So look out for the new trends IROCO will be bringing into it’s collection.

IROCO Design at Clerkenwell Design Week, May 2022

IROCO’s teams have been busy this summer, browsing the exhibitions and showrooms in Clerkenwell and meeting leading interior brands across 10 exhibition venues, to bring you the latest furniture launches from around the world. After a two-year pause, Clerkenwell Design Week was back bigger and better, welcoming a host of inspirational showrooms and featuring more exhibitions than before.

We hit the roads and alleyways of this historic part of London, excited to get to see so many new designs up close, to sit in on talks, and workshops and to meet the designers behind the brands. Here are some of our favourite finds.

Unlike traditional lighting brands, XAL’s unique lighting designs aren’t linear. Made with highly flexible, food grade silicone, their unique JANE design bends and twists into any shape chosen shape, simulating lianas in a jungle.

Combining the natural world with the concrete one Cindy Lilen Studio’s uses natural fibres to create intricate decorative lighting pieces. Using creation, femininity, and nature, the brand is venturing out into new and beautiful territory.

A standout was The Marl Pit’s stunning installation using Ketley Quarry tiles from architectural practice Szczepaniak Astridge. The multi-sensory experience could be seen, heard, touched, smelled, and moved across and was the backdrop to a fabulous evening bar.

Inspired by Hayon’s travels to Thailand and selected specially by the Spanish designer, the premium upholstery fabrics in distinctive colourways and fabric pairings accentuate the chairs’ frame and cushions to full effect for Fritz Hansen’s new collection.

With many of IROCO’s brands present at the show and more brands that IROCO will bring to Asia, keep an eye on what we will be introducing to the collection.

Clerkenwell Design Week was a huge success and IROCO was privileged to be present to follow infamous pink trail.


IROCO Design launches ‘Design in a Post Pandemic Era’

IROCO Design launches ‘Design in a Post Pandemic Era’, a partnership with the Spanish government and the Embassy of Spain in Tokyo, showcasing current design trends from Spain’s leading designer furniture brands. Leading architects, interior designers, and product designers will share their vision on how the design will change in a post-pandemic world, followed by a cocktail hosted by the Ambassador to Spain. Read more here.

IROCO Design, Bringing Fresh European Furniture to Japan

Have you ever wondered where that fabulous chair you saw at the Tokyo Art Fair was from or the iridescent lighting at the Tokyo Motor Show? Well, it may have been from IROCO Design, a company specializing in bringing stylish European furniture to the Asian market. In order to create an event or space that stands out, it’s prudent to go the extra mile and source fixtures that guests take notice of. Finding such individuality can be difficult. To avoid monotony, you may have to think outside the box.

The Rise of European Brands

Home interior stores with a Scandinavian aesthetic, such as IKEA and BoConcept, have exploded in popularity in recent years and so has the demand for sourcing furnishings from the heart of innovative European brands. IROCO is ready and waiting to answer this call from consumers in Japan.

Whether your interest is in renting or buying, you can find an almost limitless choice of tables, chairs, lighting, counters and even illuminated furniture designs through the IROCO Design catalog. Thousands of in-style designer pieces, from over 40 European and Japanese brands are available. Pedralli, True, New Standard, Plank, HAY and LaPalma to name a few.

“Architects, interior designers and hotels have not traditionally been able to access these brands in Japan,” says Ted Miller, President of IROCO Japan and CEO of Empire Entertainment Japan, but now, “IROCO Design will make that possible.”

The Start

Established in 2011 in Hong Kong, Alex Henrich and Sonia Jackson noticed the difficulties brands faced when sourcing large volumes of European products; the process was outdated, slow and expensive. Heeding the concerns of those around them, IROCO was born out of a desire to seamlessly bridge the gap between professional buyers and global design brands. Invigorating the market, they built a website where buyers could order what they wished without the bells and whistles of before.

Now, shoppers can be quoted within a day of their inquiry and receive as much information as needed to envision the final outcome. Technical drawings, 3-D renderings, high-res images and advice from design experts that speak six different languages. Architect, Interior designer or homeowner, they’ll be ready to integrate your space with your concept.

The Future

“As clients look for increasingly sophisticated design solutions, we are continually adding case study presentations to stimulate ideas, exploring the changing face of design in our blog posts, and adding new and exciting brands to the resource,” says Alex Henrich, IROCO Design’s Creative Director.

Take a look at their showroom in Tokyo for the latest designs on offer.

The Art of Maximizing Small Spaces.

Tokyo residents are expert when it comes to living in small spaces, but rising prices in big cities across the globe has meant the ability to maximise every square inch, is an important one. IROCO Design provides a few tips:

Opt for Light and Bright: Pale furniture is light and fresh and will lift a room – choose a white desk and chair for an unobtrusive home office, or a see-through acrylic dining or coffee table to maximise space (the Pic Table by Max Design is an ideal choices). Tables with open metal bases will also create an uncluttered impression – try the Tray Table range or the DLM Collection from Hay, which comes in a variety of different sizes and colours.

Find double-duty Pieces: Pieces on castors can be easily rolled away, when a room is to be used for several different purposes. Think carefully about whether furniture can double up – a stool as an end table, or a convenient spot to perch; an ottoman with a tray can become a coffee table or additional seating. IROCO Design has a range of ottoman and poufs that can double up as seats or tables.

Be Creative with Lighting: Instead of standard or table lamps (which require a table!), consider using sconces or wall-mounted lights instead.

Don’t Neglect Corners: Squeeze an accent chair into an overlooked corner (Starck’s Louis Ghost or Victoria Chair would be perfect) or create an attractive reading nook by placing cosy seating (such as the Transparent Pasha Armchair by Pedrali) and side table at an angle against the wall.

Swap Sofas for Settees: There’s an argument that oversized sofas can make a tiny room look larger, but another solution is to consider swapping a substantial couch for a less intrusive settee. Try the Pix Poufs by Arper, perfect for smaller spaces, or the Loop Centre 3S. Leaving a few inches between the wall and the back of a sofa or settee, will give a room the feeling of openness.

Where it comes to furnishings, designs such as Hans Wegner’s Wishbone chairs fit seamlessly with other pieces from multiple eras. “From Persian and Iranian rugs to Chinese and decorative arts—Scandinavian pieces go well with things that are much older,” says Matt Singer, owner of Open Air Modern, an antiques dealer in Brooklyn specializing in 20th-century Scandinavian and American furnishings. “They fit nicely in eclectic interiors, too,” he adds. A piece such as Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair, for example, is neutral enough to complement period architecture but would suit a modern minimalist interior just as easily.

And with Tokyo’s fabulous light on most days of the year, your home will never have looked so stylish.

Sonia Jackson is CEO IROCO Design Japan – – changing the way Asia sources great design.


New Season, New Trends – Salone Milano 2019

Sustainability, Nature, Artificial Intelligence and Texture – as the design world flocks to Salone in Milano IROCO Design takes a look at the new trends shaping interior design.

It’s no secret the interiors world follows the international catwalks, but seismic shifts in global politics and culture also affect design aesthetics, and ultimately the spaces we inhabit. This April’s 58th edition of Salone del Mobile in Milan brought more than 400,000 people to the city to see the world’s top brands, architects and designers unveil their long awaited exhibitions, installations and products.


Here are six design trends IROCO Design predicts will fly this season.
Sustainability: As our knowledge of the perils facing our world increase, we are seeing designers inspired to reuse and repurpose materials, giving them a new lease of life and new meaning. Brands are using their resources and influence to create products that are both desirable and functional whilst avoiding excess. Emeco, an American brand who built their first recycled chair for the US Navy in 1944, has spent the last 20 years working with Coca Cola to developed a durable and sustainable material for their chairs made from discarded bottles combined with fiberglass. At Salone, Emeco together with Barber and Osgerby, launched the very minimal On and On chair, largely made from recycled plastic bottles – an epitomy of this trend.

Artificial Intelligence: By coupling environmental concerns with available technology brands can be kept commercially viable and this will shape their success. To this end, Philippe Starck, Kartell and Autodesk have produced the AI chair, the first chair created by artificial intelligence. This strong and stable chair uses minimal material, is comfortable and structurally sound and incredibly elegant. Collaborating with artificial intelligence will increase the potential of human designers. Take note since we will be seeing much more from this trend.

Nature’s Hues: Pale pinks and blues are being replaced by rich, dramatic, natural jewel tones and earthy hues for an elegant look the style pundits have christened Modern Natural: midnight blues, forest greens, pumpkin red and chocolate brown hues are the new colours to desire. Hay has produced the About a Chair in covetable shades including Hunter, Dusty Blue and Warm Red, and Insideherland’s striking upholstery comes in dreamy tones of Atlantic Blue, Espresso, Olive and Esmerald. Kartell showcased their orange Venice Chairs –fiery orange was omnipresent. .

The New Metals: Warm metals like copper and brass will continue to be a hot interior pick this year, but high gloss or super shiny finishes will be replaced by a more muted or burnished, vintage look. Tom Dixon is still the go-to designer for warm metals where lighting includes the spectacular Curve, Fade, Melt or Etch Mini designs. The very best of Tom Dixon’s excellence in design was on show at Milan’s Manzoni restaurant.

The Human Touch: Skilled craftsmanship and a folk-inspired, hand-made vibe continues to be a sought-after trend, as taste-makers move away from manufactured finishes. Many brands have launched raw, handcrafted design objects with wood, ceramic and marble. When placed next to sophisticated pieces of furniture, they create a stark contract between the manufactured and the human touch. There are some truly innovative pieces in Portuguese brand Insidherland’s new collection, from fantastical mirrors fashioned from leaves, to rock-inspired furniture.

Texture: A traditional favourite with interior designers, the layering of textures has become more interesting. Very tactile finishes and soft materials with weaving and textures are on the rise. And natural leather is adding a feeling of comfort to many different designs. Spanish brand Loewe showcased leatherwork and woven frames in a nod to a return to the natural world.

New techniques such as pleating or folding in velvets or cottons are everywhere this season: look at Portuguese brand DelightFULL’s collection – the velvet rouche of the Doris Armchair and pleated upholstery of the Bogarde Armchair are both strikingly unusual.

Japanese designer Nendo’s installation Breeze of Light incorporated 17,000 flowers made from a polarizing film with more than 100 spotlights altering the intensity of the shadows from the flowers. Commissioned by Daikin, the air conditioning manufacturer, the feeling of a breeze blowing through a field of flowers was achieved, bringing a sense of calm to a busy week.

Sonia Jackson is CEO IROCO Design Japan – – changing the way Asia sources great design.

Japan’s Most Innovative Architectural Designers

Japan is a country where creativity and design permeate every aspect. Utter respect and reverence for the past intertwine with the present and the Japanese devotion to precision, beauty and craft fuses the two. In a country with so much creative genius and so many skilled artisans, it takes great talent to be a successful designer. IROCO Design takes a look at a few that stand out. Click here for more.


Scandinavian Design

Principled, minimalist, clean, almost Zen-like – as we seek more balance in our home and workplaces less-is-more is on the rise. But what makes Scandinavian design so appealing for residential homes as well as corporate spaces? And is Scandinavian design a purely Scandinavian affair, or is it now a major force shaping and influencing global trends?




PH House by Norm Architects

Details of PH House, Copenhagen, restored by Norm Architects. A fine example of Scandinavian design. The dark mid-centre teak furniture and the marble plinths, all by Menu, create beautiful contrasts boasting a clean and subtle elegance against the plain, white walls, and dark, inbuilt kitchen elements in saw-cut smoked oak.


Characterized by simplicity, minimalism and functionality Scandinavian design as a movement emerged in the early 20th century, and flourished in the 1950s after World War II when social democracy was at its height in the Nordic countries. Not limited to furniture but spearheaded by it, it emphasized democratic design and simple living. This new design was based on the thought that functional, simple, modern and beautiful everyday objects should be affordable for all. Industrialisation arrived late into the region so the traditional craft skills remained alive. As a result, Scandinavian modern design continued to employ the instinctive handling of materials innate to the craft. And given the Nordic region’s cold and long dark winters, Scandinavian homes had to offer warmth. More specifically the Danes searched for ‘hygge’ – the feeling of cosy contentment and well-being acquired through enjoying the simple things in life. These practicalities led to a playful combination of lighter colours, simple style and open-plan spaces that could accommodate a variety of functions, rather than serving one purpose, furthering the practicality of their design. Designed to allow light to flow at every turn, Nordic design began to favour pale-colours, wooden floors and spaces free of clutter and ornaments. And the availability and mass production of more cost-effective materials such as sturdy plastics, pressed wood, and aluminium helped to fuel the Scandinavian design movement.


The FlowerPot lamp by Verner Pantonj

Vernon Panton’s Flowerpot, for &tradition, with its two facing semi-circular spheres is a synonym for our time.


The first golden age of Scandinavian design extended from the 1930s to the beginning of the 1970s. Its founders were Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen, Borge Mogensen, Hans J Wegner, Verner Panton, Poul Henningsen and Maija Isola. These founders provided the basic model of Scandinavian design– durability, functionality, reliability and affordability – but also the less tangible values of simplicity, joy, courage and pleasure which are clearly visible in brands such as Muuto, Hay and Ferm Living.  Clean lines, functional furnishings and a neutral palette were hallmarks of modern style everywhere.


That Scandinavian design quickly gained global and lasting appeal is thanks to the likes of Jacobsen whose interest in furniture design peaked with the launch of the Drop, Egg and Swan Chairs in the 50s, which still to this day inspire modern design. Some designers began to add bold colours and graphics to the clean-lined philosophies such as Marimekko, instantly recognisable for its colourful bright patterns, whilst others changed the wood for plastics and moulded into clean silhouettes such as the Panton Chair. The Scandinavian influence on American design stood out in pieces such as the Tulip Chair, designed by Finn Eero Saarinen for Knoll in 1956, which also remains a true classic to this day.


Monochrome colours, or natural colours, feature strongly in Scandinavian style. White or off-white walls create a clean backdrop in which grey, blue, black, pinks and creamed and organic, earthy colours are used to create highlights, Scandinavian furniture. In the picture, Copenhague Table CPH30 by HAY.


Neutral colours in Scandinavian design such as deep onyx, elegant charcoal, medici grey, stone white, golden basketry, fossil grey, and white cliff beige are an inspiration from nature. The result is a warm strain of modernism which is easy to relate to and entirely hygge.  It remains as much about a look as it is about a lifestyle. Made into a mass market phenomena by Ikea back in the 90’s, today brands such &tradition, Menu and Hay are distilling Nordic design with a more mature approach, proving that Scandinavian design is alive and well even in the more eclectic present, and incorporating Mediterranean and Asian designers such as Jaime Hayon or Nendo to the collection. In today’s environment, where our workplaces and homes are interchangeable, and we look to our homes as a retreat from stress, it’s no surprise that Scandinavian design is here to stay.