2016 Design Trends: Transparency

2016 Design Trends: Transparency

The fourth instalment of our annual trends package – which shines a light on the materials, objects and buildings that are basking in the most impactful colours of the coming year – explores colourful translucency.

Light infusion is always on trend. One of the best examples arrived in London in summer, with the installation of Spanish firm SelgasCano’s Serpentine Pavilion. The psychedelic wormhole, as the Guardian called it, was made of an iridescent polymer that let in sunlight and projected ribbons of colour onto the skin and clothing of visitors as they moved through the cocoon-like space. In most of the firm’s projects, multi-hued transparency is the main material. 

Other architects are expanding their palettes, too. Sou Fuji­moto, known for his all-white minimalist aesthetic, recently completed a shopping centre in Miami, decked out with light-diffusing blue glass. These projects and more are vibrant examples of colourful transparency. 


A detail of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion in London. Spanish design firm SelgasCano wove the tent-like structure from stripes of the fluorine-based polymer ETFE.  


Sou Fujimoto’s Palm Court, a shopping centre in the Miami Design District, delivers high drama with a repeat of blue glass fins that reflect its glamorous surroundings.


Dewey bookshelves, by Patricia Urquiola for Kartell, are made of plastic but give the impression of glass.  ­


Juicer, by Elinor Portnoy, a master of arts student at the Royal College of Art in London. The juicers are hand blown, carved, then ground.  ­


Chinese firm Coordination Asia’s Rainbow Chapel, in Shanghai, is enclosed with panels constructed from over 3,000 glass elements in 65 colours.  ­


For Glas Italia, Philippe Starck’s Boxinbox, made of laminated and thermo-welded extra-light glass, sits on a stainless steel base.  


One of four vases inspired by the seasons, each one mouth blown by Oslo designer Kristine Five Melvaer.  ­


Piero Lissoni’s two-tone thermoplastic vases for Kartell exploit the translucency of colours, creating different hues where they overlap.  

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