Year in review: top 10 design stories of 2023, as selected by Wallpaper* design editor Rosa Bertoli

With her top 10 design stories of 2023, Bertoli whisks us to (possibly) the world’s most beautiful office and behind the scenes of Rhianna’s Super Bowl halftime show set

Art Recherche Industrie Paris office: chosen by Rosa Bertoli for her top 10 design stories of 2023
(Image credit: Younès Klouche)

Look back on a year in design with with top 10 design stories of 2023, as picked by Wallpaper* design editor Rosa Bertoli. Among the design moments that helped defined popular culture this year were Mathieu Lehanneur's water-inspired design for the Paris 2024 Olympic torch, and Rhianna’s Super Bowl halftime show stage, by multi-hyphenated Canadian creative Willo Perron. But we also explored team obsessions like Japanese home appliances and miniature wooden animals, which we gathered in two of this year's most popular round-ups, as well as dreamlike interiors, and note-worthy happenings across the design world. 

Wallpaper’s top 10 design stories of 2023

01. Art Recherche Industrie’s new HQ might be the most beautiful office in the world

Art Recherche Industrie Paris office

(Image credit: Younès Klouche)

Ask Ramdane Touhami what inspired him when creating the new Art Recherche Industrie office in Paris and he offers a succinct answer: ‘Beauty’. Set within a 19th-century ballroom in Paris’ 10th arrondissement, the space is a mix of old-world charm and colourful, contemporary interventions. ‘I didn’t have a vision for the space, I just improvised,’ says Touhami of the interiors. ‘I wanted to create a big, beautiful space for my team that would feel like a home.’

The building originally housed Marguery, a restaurant that opened in 1860 and gave its name to a classic dish of sole in white wine sauce. Until its founder died in 1910, it was known as one of the city’s most magnificent establishments – a magnet for artists, politicians and cultural influencers. ‘Our exceptional ballroom seems to be a vestige of those glory days and has been home to a synagogue, a brothel and a cult,’ explains Touhami. ‘Many different energies, past and present, intersect and merge here.’


02. Ikea’s Space10: a decade of groundbreaking design ideas

Space10 best of

(Image credit: Courtesy Space10)

Space10, the Copenhagen-based design office working exclusively with Ikea on innovative design concepts, closed its doors at the end of August 2023 after ten years of groundbreaking collaboration. ‘Space10 was never meant to last and – after a decade working with Ikea – we have achieved what we initially set out to accomplish,’ says Kaave Pour, co-founder and head of the studio. ‘We feel immensely proud to have influenced one of the biggest design companies in the world while making our ideas portable and shaping conversations in everything from technology to design, architecture and food.’

The studio’s projects have served as a starting point for Ikea’s own work, and its projects were aimed at creating a culture of innovation within the Swedish furniture giant. We looked at some of Space10's greatest design innovations from the past decade. 


03. Ingenious Japanese home appliances to enhance domestic life

Plusminuszero Japanese home appliances

(Image credit: Courtesy +-0)

+-0 (often referred to as Plusminuszero) is Japan’s go-to brand for minimalist home appliances. Established in 2003 and made famous worldwide by the many products designed by founder and former art director Naoto Fukasawa, who started the brand in a quest for minimalist home appliances that felt ‘just right,' the brand offers every domestic function, from cleaning to heating, in minimalist form. 

Although many of the original Fukasawa designs are no longer available on the current catalogue, the brand keeps on innovating with household goods that blur the boundaries between domestic and tech. Here, we take our pick of the most mundanely exciting +-0 home appliances.


04. RH takes over historical Aynho Park

Aynhoe Park

(Image credit: courtesy RH)

Aynho Park, a Grade I-listed 73-acre landmark estate on the Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire border, stands among England's most exceptional properties. Now reopened for the first time since its sale to RH, previously Restoration Hardware, in 2020, this historic property has been restored and entirely reimagined as a first-of-its-kind design and hospitality destination. A bold move indeed from an American furniture brand.

'We do believe you don’t get a second chance to make the first impression in this lifetime,' says Friedman. 'And our goal was to find a magical place that resembled anything but a retail store. So far, I think we’re off to a good start. And that is what we found here: a place of wonder, enchantment, and history.'


05. Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show: behind the scenes of the stage design

Rihanna super bowl half time show stage design

(Image credit: John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Rihanna's Super Bowl halftime show was one of the most anticipated musical events of 2023. The Barbadian singer appeared on a platform floating over the State Farm Stadium, her dancers similarly suspended around her; below stood an oblong red stage, which became the centre of the 13-minute musical pyrotechnics. 

The stage was conceived by Canadian, California-based designer Willo Perron, co-founder of design studio Perron-Roettinger and a regular creator of showpieces for the likes of Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Drake. Perron's collaboration with Rihanna started in 2008 and has included set design for her Savage x Fenty shows, as well as stage design for her concerts. ‘At this point, we are pretty well acclimated; there’s a lot of freedom to start and stop ideas,’ says Perron of the collaboration.


06. Mathieu Lehanneur unveiled designs the Paris 2024 Olympic Torch

Mathieu Lehanneur Paris Studio

(Image credit: RAF Studio – Felipe Ribon)

Mathieu Lehanneur has designed the Olympic torch for the upcoming Paris 2024 games, set to take place in July and August 2024. A highly symbolic element of each Olympic Games, the Olympic torch is lit by the sun’s rays at a ritual ceremony at the Temple of Hera at Olympia, Greece, a nod to the Ancient Olympic Games. Meanwhile, for the Paralympic Games, the flame is created at Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain, where the Paralympic movement originated. In France, the torch will make its first stop in Marseille before making its way to the Olympic stadium in Paris.

His design, Lehanneur explains, ‘gives form to the values of Paris 2024’. Working following principles of equality and peace, and with the city of Paris in mind, he created a design based on symmetry and curves, with water (also a recurring theme of Lehanneur’s work) representing the city of Paris by the Seine, but also the torch’s journey from Olympia to Marseille and to off-site Olympics locations of Martinique and Guadeloupe. 


07. Building Salmon Creek Farm: inside California’s ultimate creative retreat

Salmon Creek Farm

(Image credit: photography by Thomas Loof, art direction by Michael Reynolds)

Salmon Creek Farm was conceived as the ultimate creative retreat. Set within the coastal redwood forests of Albion, California, the brainchild of architecture-trained artist Fritz Haeg is a place to foster a relationship with nature, slow down and connect with daily life. For our August 2023 'Made in the USA' issue, he opened the doors to his cultural commune and tells us its story.


08: Restored Saint-Michel de Brasparts Chapel features interiors by Ronan Bouroullec

Saint-Michel de Brasparts Chapel by Ronan Bouroullec

(Image credit: Claire Lavabre - Studio Bouroullec)

The 17th-century Chapelle Saint-Michel de Brasparts reopened to the public in July 2023, after a thorough restoration and with new interiors by Ronan Bouroullec. The chapel had been closed for a year, following a series of fires in the surrounding areas, and the restoration was supported by François Pinault. 

For the chapel’s restoration, Bouroullec created new furniture, made of locally sourced Nuit Celtique de Huelgoat granite and comprising an altar with a base to hold a cross and candles, and a console table for votive objects. Essential in their appearance yet carefully conceived in proportions and execution, these pieces were created in collaboration with stone mason Christophe Chini from nearby Plonévez-du-Faou. The metal objects, meanwhile, were made by Mathieu Cabioch, an artist–metalworker based in Roscoff who helped Bouroullec create the cross and the candle holders. 


09. Puiforcat presents new silver designs by Donald Judd

Donald Judd puiforcat

(Image credit: Eric Poitevin)

The creative legacy of Donald Judd is back in the contemporary spotlight once more with a never-before-seen dinner service, designed by the American artist, finally seeing the light of day. Expertly crafted by the French silversmith Puiforcat, the eight-piece collection beautifully exemplifies Judd’s artistic philosophy. Based on sketches of a dinner service that he made in 1989, the designs for bowls, plates and cups repeatedly toy with the idea of cylindrical forms intersected by perpendicular planes.

Despite producing an original set of prototypes consisting of several plates in ceramic and other pieces in stainless steel, the designs were not taken further by the time of Judd’s passing in 1989 as they did not achieve the razor-sharp precision that he had intended. Under the supervision of Flavin Judd, the artist’s son and artistic director of the Judd Foundation, these forgotten designs have been exquisitely brought to life in sterling silver by Puiforcat. 


10. Carved wooden animals to rewild to your tabletop

Wooden animals: shorebirds by Sigurjón Pálsson

(Image credit: Courtesy Normann Copenhagen)

Throughout the year, we have had a hard time resisting the charm of these carved wooden animals. Designed by some of today's leading creatives (as well as some great masters from the past), the little creatures offer a moment of joy and humour and are the perfect addition to enliven a bookcase or home office desk. Whether you’re a dog person or prefer wilder fauna, choose your favourite, or start a collection. 


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.