For one week each spring, Milan comes alive with a palpable excitement for design. From around the globe, hundreds of thousands of designers, architects, journalists, and design aficionados gather in the northern Italian city to go to the annual Salone del Mobile Milano. Beyond the fairgrounds, the city, already a global capital of fashion and design, is transformed by installations and exhibitions from the world’s foremost designers, all packed into an array of neighborhoods and environments and open for the public to view and experience.
Each year, Luminaire travels to Milan for the annual Milan Design Week to seek out the best in contemporary design from around the world.
Our journey began at the Interni Material Immaterial exhibition at University deli Studi di Milano. An invitation to explore the dual spirit of design, the exhibition explored the universe of materials and the physical essence of design while examining the immaterial dimension of creation. The installations, by a number of contemporary designers and architects including Ron Arad, Antonio Citterio, and SHoP, looked at the ways in which design thinking is increasingly aided by digital technologies and influenced by virtual reality.
From there, we visited B&B Italia’s flagship showroom on Via During in the heart of the city and discovered Piero Lissoni’s first ever collaboration with the iconic Italian brand, the Sake sofa. Featuring the characteristic thin lines and sensivitiy to proportions the renowned Italian creative is known for, the new collection was a refreshing addition to the storied design brand’s collection.
Our day concluded with visits to showrooms of several design companies including Porro and Cassina to see the latest products. Following our time in the showrooms, we visited Paola Lenti’s display in an old and fascinating production site dating back to the last century on via Orobia. Through a series of grand spaces, the brand showcase its collection with concentration on what has made it famous: unique colors, textures, and materials all applied to well-designed pieces for indoor and outdoor living. The breathtaking showing of the collection was a refreshing way to end our day.
This year, Cassina celebrated its 90th anniversary at the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli with an installation that connects the company’s past and present with a vision towards the future. Cassina 9.0 was the title of the exhibit by Patricia Urquiola which references progress and evolution, as a necessary resource to reinterpret the company’s historical legacy. Inspired by themes from the book “This will be the Place”, presented by Cassina, the installation explored scenarios and contexts regarding the future of living, experimenting with forms and codes to relate with space and objects.
With the opening of the fair the next day, we made our way through the Rho fairground’s hallways discovering the latest designs from Flexform, Porro, Living Divani, Desalto, Glas Italia, Established & Sons, Edra, ClassiCon, and Zanotta, amongst others.
Taking a break from the busy fairgrounds, we headed outside to tour the satellite exhibitions around the city. Japanese design studio Nendo and its founder Oki Sato always manage to draw crowds to their Milan installations, which seamlessly marry minimalist sophistication with a playful character, and 2017 was no different. At the Jil Sander showroom right off the piazza of Sforza Castle, “Nendo: Invisible Outlines” offered up installations ranging from the nature-evoking Jellyfish Vase to the ethereal 80 Sheets of Mountains.
In addition to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the biannual Euroluce took place this year where numerous brands showed innovation and creativity not only in technology and materials but in design as well. As always, Ingo Maurer’s installations stand out showcasing his creative mastery of LED technology in a playful presentation. From the impressive, always custom made, Porscha Miseria! to the new interpretation of the edition bulb, Bulb Limited, Ingo Maurer’s display drew the crowd’s curiosity.
At Flos, we discovered Michael Anastassiades’, the Bouroullec Brothers’, Nendo’s and Kostantin Grcic’s new designs, highlighting the relationship between light and architecture of a space. Beyond his work for Flos, Anastassiades was present at Euroluce with his own well-designed booth flanked in carefully selected woods which warmly reacted to the minimal collection of lights within. It was exciting to see the how Anastassiades’ work has evolved since we first debuted his collection in the US during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2011.
Throughout the next days, we visited events, design showrooms, and took another venture to the fair to see all that we could in our time. Highlights included meeting with Giulio Cappellini at the Cappellini Point showroom and receiving a tour of the new collection complete with a sofa designed by Cappellini himself that is geared towards the increasingly modular ways we utilize furniture. At Henry Timi, we found the designer’s ability to surprise and delight on full view in his pared down yet immensely creative designs. Included was a ziggurat-like structure that concealed a functioning kitchen. The designer’s ability to transform the mundane into unique works of art that marry form and function left us impressed and excited.
Beyond design, we also took time to explore cultural institutions in Milan. First, at the Triennale, we explored the Lexus Design Award’s tenth exhibition where a selection of young designers displayed innovative and problem-solving creations. We also spent time at the Fondazione Prada, the OMA-designed compound housing a rotating collection of contemporary art.
We’ve put together a selection of the newest designs from some of the best contemporary design firms participating in the Milan Design Week. Explore the highlights here.