Google Softwear @ Salone Milan 2018

Google Softwear @ Salone Milan 2018

In an exhibition held during Milan Design Week, leading trend forecaster Li Edelkoort and Google teamed up to explore how electronic devices of the future could become tactile. They revealed a vision for how computer hardware could be seamlessly integrated into homes and workplaces, through the introduction of elements such as  textiles.

They also sought to question the role that technology will play in day to day life in the future.

The starting point for the exhibition was a concept first introduced by Edelkoort twenty years ago in 1998, called Softwear.  She imagined a future where technology is used in the process of nesting, and where working from home is part of a typical lifestyle.

She had envisioned the future of electronics as covered in cloth and soft, neutral colors. In contrast to the black plastic boxes of early ’90s technology, Edelkoort imagined electronics as cozy extensions of our environment. At the time, she even photographed a sort of proof of concept inside a Paris apartment to demonstrate the idea behind Softwear.


“We begin to take time for ourselves, to be more present at home, we realise that a career does not have to be made in an office environment, and will begin to achieve a new feeling of balance and creativity… Softwear is more than just a trend. This forecast heralds the coming of a major new industry, not only in clothing but also in interiors, design, gardening, hardware, retail, consumer products and communications” ……………………………. Li Edelcourt 


Before Google launched its cloth-covered line of products in 2017, Ross showed Edelkoort the company’s new design ethos–and Edelkoort reminded Ross of her old work with Softwear.

The project immediately came back to Ross. Edelkoort had nailed a trend, albeit a few decades early. The exhibition, also called Softwear, will explore this concept in light of today’s technologies and lifestyles, and in line with the vision of sensorial hardware proposed by Ivy Ross, Google’s vice president of hardware design.


Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs spoke to Google Hardware’s head of design Ivy Ross, trend forecaster Li Edelkoort and co-founder of the Future Laboratory Martin Raymond on how technology can better integrate with people’s lives in this panel discussion.




Taking place at the Rossana Orlandi gallery, the show comprised of three rooms.

The first room held an audiovisual presentation and catalogue prepared by Edelkoort and her team.


The second housed a series of specially designed wall hangings created by Dutch designer Kiki van Eijk, which will showcase textiles being used for upcoming Google products.

Artist Kiki van Eijk


And the third room presented Google’s vision for integrated technology, with immersive room settings displaying indicative touch and feel of the house of the future with a good does of Hygge.



About Li Edelkoort 

Lidewij Edelkoort is a trend forecaster, curator, publisher and educator who constantly lives in the future. Studying the links between art, fashion, design and consumer culture, Edelkoort’s work has pioneered trend forecasting as a profession, providing design and  lifestyle analysis for the world’s leading brands.

Since 1992, her magazines (View on Colour, InView and Bloom) have been highly influential in the creative industries.

Recently, her work has evolved into the realms of education at the Design Academy Eindhoven where she was Chairwoman from 1999 to 2008, humanitarianism within the Heartwear craft foundation she co-founded in 1993, and curatorial work as she delves into the art and design domain, illuminating museums and exhibits around the world.

In  2008, the French Ministry of Culture honored her as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and the Dutch Royal Family named her a Knight in the Order of Oranje Nassau.

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