Milan Design Week 2014 Green Design Trends: Integrated Indoor Edible and Ornamental Indoor Gardens

June 1, 2014 by

caesarstone-urban-islands-with-plantersCaesarstone featured Urban Islands incorporating plants directly into the solid surface. Image by Caesarstone.

Green was trending everywhere during last month’s Milan Design Week 2014. Stylish, sustainable, and integrated edible and ornamental indoor gardens and microgardens sprouted everywhere. And I don’t just mean outdoors. Accessories and furniture with integrated planters large and small were flourishing indoors in kitchens, bathrooms, and other living spaces.


Kitchen Garden Is the New Black
I saw lots of gardens in kitchens when I was in Milan as part of the Modenus BlogTour. One of the tour’s sponsors, NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) had briefed us on their recent research which indicated what was and was not trending in the US. The trends I spotted at Salone del Mobile, Eurocucina and other venues, confirmed that things were a little different in Europe and would likely take time to make their way stateside.

arclinea-indoor-domestic-greenhouseImage by Arclinea.

Integrated Kitchen Garden of the Future
On a visit to Arclinea’s flagship showroom with BlogTour Milan sponsor Cosentino (makers of Silestone and Dekton), I saw couture kitchen gardens integrated styishly into the design of the brand’s Mensolinea collection.

Their “Domestic Greenhouse” fit neatly on a shelf beneath specially designed grow lights. The built-in miniature greenhouse takes the kitchen garden a step further, leaving the countertop cleared for working and automating the lighting and often the irrigation. Just snip and cook.

bulbo-indoor-kitchen-farm-for-ernesto-medaImage by Erbesto Meda.

Getting the Grow Green Light
But the real exciting part? Bulbo, the Italian start-up whose tag line is “Farm Different,” designed the system for growing vegetables indoors using stylishly crafted energy-saving LED lights. Bulbo founders proclaim that “the food revolution begins inside our homes”–espcially urban ones–where urban dwellers, they say, should transform themselves into farmers.

arclinea-accessories-plant-shelf-with-overhead-lightsImage by Arclinea.

Urban Dwellers as Co-Producers Not Passive Consumers
The company’s products represent their call to action which encourages people to become actively engaged  as “co-producers” not simply passive consumers. for Arclinea, Bulbo’s compact mini kitchen greenhouse fits stylishly into unglazed ceramic containers whose internal reservoir irrigates plants through the soil, providing the right amount of drainage.


Bulbo’s integrated lighting system mimics nature, reproducing just the right light spectrum for replicating natural photosynthesis indoors. I’d love to see this kind of lighting built in to American kitchens.

Lignum-et-Lapis-arclineaImage by Arclinea.

No Green Thumbs Required
Bulbo’s lighting system produces a colored light designed to reproduce the same frequencies found in the natural cycle of sunlight, but automatically turning itself off for needed periods of darkness. So right where one is cooking, small and medium vegetables, herbs, flowers (and succulents if you’re just looking for pretty) evolve from germination to flowering. The lighting system exactly reproduces a day/night cycle which includes 14 hours of daylight and 10 hours of “night.”

Mensolinea-Convivium-archlinea.Image by Arclinea.

Kitchen Gardens Everywhere at Eurocucina
As I walked the expanisve Eurocucina fair at Salone del Mobile, the indoor kitchen garden was everywhere. Kitchen brand Ernesto Meda also showcased a Bulbo integrated plant lighting system into its showcase kitchen. This one was countertop level, but like Arclinea’s, it also provided just the right type and amount of light so cooks could concentrate on cooking and let the garden take care of itself. Who doesn’t love easy?


Trending: Gardens as Living Screens and Room Dividers
I love concepts that do double duty, especailly great for small space living. La Cornu’s kitchen display incorporated a massive vegetable and herb garden that doubled as a room divider. This was a trend I saw echoed by a number of other brands at iSaloni–not only in kitchens but in bathrooms and other living spaces. The hanging shelving unit, above, integrated plants and white plates to create a floating screen sturdy enough to actually use for storage.


Electrolux unveiled its kitchen of the future which featured an under counter herb garden by American company, Urban Culitvator. Fitted into a kitchen design like one of the other appliances, the design resembles a wine refrigerator with a glass door that keeps plants visible.

urban-cultivator-under-counter-kitchen-greenhouseImage by Urban Cultivator.

And of course, interior green walls and vertical gardens were everywhere. Miele had a beautiful ornamental vertcial garden at its stand, while several other brands sported edible walls. The kitchens at Eurocucina were veritable off-the-wall eat-in kitchens.


Next up: Gessi brings foliage into the bathroom with its new Cona collection…

Nota Bene: My trip to Milan with the Modenus BlogTour was made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors: Modenus, BLANCO, Clever Storage by Kessenbömer, Dekton by Cosentino, National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), and Gessi. All opinions exressed herein are uniquely mine and not indicative of any sponsor opinions or positions.

Unless otherewise noted, all images by Robin Plaskoff Horton for Urban Gardens.

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