Milan Design Week 2023 Preview
Next week the design world will descend on Milan for the city's annual festival of installations, product launches and schmoozing in the sun. Where to go first? Here are our top picks
17-23 April, 11am to 7pm. Viale Molise 62
This experimental exhibition platform set up by curators Valentina Ciuffi and Joseph Grima moves to a new location every year, usually an abandoned building. For its fifth edition, an overgrown former abattoir in Porta Vittoria is the setting for 70 diverse projects from established and emerging designers. Look out for the enigmatic furniture of Kate Greenberg and the elaborate knitted vessels of Sangmin Oh, and delve into the world of eco-materials in large-scale installations by research lab Atelier LUMA and Finnish platform Habitarematerials.
Take It or Leave It
18-21 April, 11am to 7pm (except 3pm closure on Thurs and Fri). OTTO Studio, Via Tortona 31
A treasure trove awaits in this show from Italian architect and designer Paola Navone and New York media company The Slowdown. Known for her offbeat and flamboyant style, Navone presents an array of eclectic objects she has collected over the years, from antique metal spoons sourced in India to papier-mâché masks from China. Visitors can do more than marvel; those who entered a special lottery will be assigned an object at random and given the opportunity to either take it home, or leave it for someone else.
18-23 April, 9:30am to 6:30pm (restrictions apply). Fiera Milano, Rho
The Salone del Mobile usually stages this lighting extravaganza every two years, but due to pandemic closures, this is the first since 2019. That means it’s set to be a glittering affair, filled with brands hoping to make a big impression. Among them is Lasvit, who is presenting an elaborate cloud-like chandelier, and British designer Tom Dixon, who is setting up a robot assembly line for his tapered CONE table and floor lights. Curated exhibitions also feature, with top picks including Constellations, featuring lighting sculptures by artists including Aldo Mondino and Monica Bonvicini, and a display of architectural photography by Hélène Binet.
Clay Court Club
14-23 April, 10am to 8pm. Via G Arimondi 15
A historic tennis club is not the obvious location for an exhibition, unless you’re Cristina Celestino. This Italian designer likes to shine a light on the iconic but lesser-known destinations of her home city. Designed by Giovanni Muzio in 1923, the Tennis Club Milano Bonacossa is being temporarily transformed with objects and furniture pieces that take cues from the lines and semi circles of the courts. A pop-up restaurant runs concurrently, while tennis enthusiasts can reserve a slot on the courts.
5Vie Design District
17-23 April, 10:30am to 7:30pm. Via Cesare Correnti 14
One of Milan’s oldest districts, 5Vie is named after five intimate, narrow streets where galleries and shops are dotted amongst cloisters and courtyards. Not to be missed is OMG-GMO, an Carwan Gallery exhibition featuring ceramic works created by Austrian designer Robert Stadler to mimic fruit and vegetables. Although worth a visit are Maison Matisse, where British designer Faye Toogood is showing furniture inspired by Henri Matisse’s ink drawings, and L’Appartamento, a 1930s apartment reworked by six contemporary interiors studios.
19-23 April, 10am to 8pm. La Pelota, Via Palermo 10
The French luxury brand is scorning all excess in this presentation of its latest homeware offerings. In contrast to the colourful ‘water towers’ of last June, this year’s installation fills the expansive La Pelota sports hall with a geometric framework of iron rods and concrete, offering a brutalist-style backdrop to furniture and accessories characterised by organic materials and muted colours. Chairs with classic silhouettes are accompanied by ultra-graphic rugs, blown-glass lights and a breakfast set embellished with equestrian motifs.
18-23 April. Via Pietro Maroncelli 2
In a serenely dark showroom in Brera, the ninth edition of this perennial Milan shines a light on Norway’s material-led design culture. Championing sustainable Norwegian materials and low-carbon production, exhibits include Stine Aas’ handmade wool felts and Studio Sløyd’s cleverly coloured wood furniture, while the showpiece is pasta-inspired bench, Bello! Created by designer Lars Beller Fjetland and manufacturer Hydro, this smoothly curved seat is made from aluminium that is both recycled and 100 percent recyclable.
17-23 April, 10am to 6pm. Via Pietro Maroncelli 7
In a bold move, London design studio Blond has relocated its entire team to Brera for a pop-up residency that includes product launches, design workshops and a late-night house party. The main event is Blond Artefacts, an interactive exhibition that hopes to inspire young designers to look away from their screens and instead find inspiration in physical objects. Visitors are invited to produce a design sketch in response, with the best examples brought to life by an in-house 3D printer and added to the display.
17-19 April, 6pm to 12am. Palinurobar, Via Giovanni Paisiello 28
A short walk from Milan’s infamous Bar Basso, an intimate wine bar is hoping to also attract some of the after-hours crowd. For three days only, the elegant wood-panelled interiors and urban garden of Palinurobar is being reinvented as Bar Flora. Here, New York studio In Common With and French-American designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen are unveiling a 20-piece collection of expertly crafted glass lighting works. The most eye-catching pieces make use of fazzoletto, a historic technique for creating undulating waves within glass.
Palazzo Morando, Via Sant'Andrea 6 and Museo del Novecento, Piazza Duomo
This year marks the 150th anniversary of London department store Liberty. The retailer is marking the occasion with not one but two Milan installations – one within the contemporary art mecca of the Museo del Novecento, and the other within the lavish 18th-century Palazzo Morando. The shows centre around Liberty’s new Interiors and Fashion fabrics collections, designed by couturier and interior designer Federico Forquet. Those familiar with the brand’s aesthetic will be surprised to find bold, geometric prints, with not a floral in sight.
Ten: Beyond the Beetle
18-22 April, 9am to 9pm. Bagni Misteriosi, Via Carlo Botta 18
A decade ago, design duo GamFratesi came to Milan with an experimental chair prototype that was never intended for production. Spotted by Gubi, it ended up becoming one of the Danish brand’s best-selling products, the Beetle Chair. To celebrate the anniversary, Gubi invited 10 designers from across disciplines to put their own spin on this pivotal project, with fashion designer Arthur Arbesser and architectural designer Adam Nathaniel Furman among the contributors. The results debut in one of Milan’s most beautiful settings, the 1930s Bagni Misteriosi swimming baths.
18-23 April, 10am to 7pm (except 6pm closure on Wed and Thu). Via Solferino 11, third floor
The furniture of Danish design brand Muuto usually exudes a contemporary-classic feel, so it will be right at home inside the H+O Apartment Gallery in Brera. Created by architect and designer duo Elisa Ossino and Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer in 2019, this home-gallery hybrid features super-stylish interiors that are worthy of attention on their own. Muuto will introduce new products including the circular statement Midst Table, designed by Stockholm-based TAF Studio, in an installation that explores how small changes to a home’s environment can have significant impact on the wellbeing of its occupants.
18-23 April. San Vittore E 40 Martiri, Viale Lucania 18
Aside from its galleries in Geneva, Mexico, New York and Singapore, collectible design specialist Galleria Philia has become an expert at staging pop-up exhibitions in highly atmphospheric locations. The latest takes place in a deconsecrated church dating back to the 11th century, more recently used as a basketball court and community space. Twenty designers present pieces that respond to the now-secular nature of this once-holy structure, all produced in white. Among them are a “decrealised” chair by fashion designer Rick Owens and monumental works by Italian duos Morghen Studio and Studio Pepe.
15-23 April, 11am to 9pm (except 8pm closure on 15 and 16 April). Viale Alemagna 6
In the Parco Sempione, Milan’s design museum marks its centenary year with the reopening of the Museo del Design Italiano, a permanent exhibition featuring over 300 iconic design objects that chart a history from the museum’s founding in 1923 to the present day. The choice pick from the various temporary exhibitions debuting this week is Droog30, a deep dive into the work of the innovative 1990s Dutch designer collective who rebelled against form and function with a delicious mix of disobedience and humour.
La Manufacture at Casa Manzoni
17-23 April, 10am to 8pm. Casa Manzoni, Via Gerolamo Morone 1
Wildflowers and plants take over the birthplace of Italian poet and writer Alessandro Manzoni in this presentation from French fashion and furniture label La Manufacture. The greenery sets the scene for three new furniture collaborations with German designer Sebastian Herkner, which all take cues from the natural world. These include Moss, a modular sofa formed of soft shapes similar to those created by land plants, and Gem, a series of tables with the look of stone cairns.
18-23 April, 10am to 8pm (except 6pm closure on Thu, Sat and Sun). Corso Monforte 15
Ronan Bouroullec may be best known for the furniture designs he and brother Erwan have been producing from their Paris studio for the past 25 years, but he is also an artist. His sensual, emotive colourscapes with ink have been exhibited around the world, while prints are often found on the walls of chic, minimalist apartments. Now, innovative Danish textile label Kvadrat has turned them into textiles. Three collections of upholstery fabric debut at the brand’s Milan showroom, with colours and textures that recreate Ronan’s meticulous drawings.