From the 60s to current day there’s no doubt that Milan Design Week as a whole has managed to bring some design magic to a whole city for one week in April of every year. Whether it’s on Salone del Mobile, Fuorisalone, or on either of the design district of Milan (Brera Design District, Ventura Centrale Design District, Tortona Design District and 5 Vie Art Design District) wherever you go during this period, you can feel and breathe “innovation” and “design” all around Milan.
Of course, Milan is the host for such an event due to the fact that it’s a city with a lot of history in regards to the area of design. We will begin by introducing you to some influential designers, both from the past and present, who have undoubtedly made a strong career for themselves as well as contributing for the reputation Milan has as the city of fashion and design.
Either they’re Milanese or foreign, from the past or the present, one thing is certain: Milan has been becoming an epicenter for the best design has to offer. In this section, we’ll be introducing you to some of the top designers that have either marked Milan, or that definitely left their mark during Milan Design Week.
There are many designers that will continue to influence and still make many new generations of designers to come. Piero Fornasetti is a name that still inspires many designers to this day. We can definitely see a tribute to this work on “Architettura Celeste” (celestial architecture) designed by Barnaba Fornasetti, created as a is a reworking of the historic motif created during the 50s by Fornasetti himself.
This collection comprises a wide range of furniture and accessories, among them being the iconic trumeau, a screen, a cabinet, and a corner cabinet, tables, chairs, mirrors, and panels. Barnaba Fornasetti’s collection pieces symbolize a perfect synthesis of art and craftsmanship, as well as a true reflection of his father’s influences.
Probably one of the most memorable pieces by Gaetano Pesce has to be ‘Montanara’, a collection made by the Italian designer alongside Italian brand Meritalia. The beautiful couch of upholstered furniture shows a lovely waterfall scenario printed in the fabric of the couch. We can’t also forget to mention ‘Colorado’ (a couch with an odd mix of blue and orange in its color) and also ‘Gli amici’ (Meaning “friends”), a series of pieces inspired by childhood drawing of several wild animals. Without a doubt, these were some of the most visually stunning objects from the Italian designer.
Patricia Urquiola is a famous Spanish architect and designer that lives and works in Milan. She’s well-known for regularly working with Italian brands, offering her expertise and knowledge in functional yet poetic design, which often makes her one of the best designers of our time.
Urquiola presented for the very first time the brand-new Vimini Collection for Kettal, a brand with which she had several works in the past (specifically the including Maia, Vieques, Mesh, Roll and Cottage collections). According to Kettal, the reason for the name Vimini is due to the fact that it means “wicker” in Italian and it sounds like Bimini, an Island in the Bahamas.
Patricia Urquiola also has a close relationship with Italian brand Moroso, having worked with them on more than one occasion. We can point to some relevant examples such as the Chamfer Sofa, the Belt couch range, the Tender sofa, and also the Clarissa Hood chairs. Without a doubt, she will continue to be one of the most influential Milanese designers from years to come.
Antonio Citterio is an Italian designer mostly known for his collaborations with prestige Italian brands, among them B&B Italia. He’s made several collections for the brand, most notably the Maxalto collection which was enrichened last year with some more elegant chairs, and seating systems, featuring new range extensions and new finishes.
Citterio was one of the designers who collaborated with Consentini with the project “Deep Words Light”, an installation featured at the University of Milan as part of the “Interni, Energy for Creativity 2015” event. The initiative was inspired by Teatro Olimpico of Palladio, by creating an outdoor theatre in the largest courtyard of the University of Milan. Citterio himself has stated that the project was a unique way to show off the city of Milan and all elements associated with it (history, culture, social and economic World).
The Japanese architect left his mark in Milan with the opening of Duvetica’s store and showroom in the city. This space’s main features involve an inclined and curved cement wall, used to divide the two floors of the 240 square meter interior, revealed by a wide window positioned at the main entrance. As a tribute to Tadao Ando’s work, the same establishment exhibited ten museum buildings that were designed by the architect himself in 2012.
Philippe Starck managed to introduce Kartell into the world of wood, with the Woody collection unveiled in Milan. This innovative collection not only showed some advantages to wood but also proved that this material is more flexible than you expect. The French designer had made several chairs and other design works in the past for Kartell however this collection marked new possibilities for the brand.
We are still stunned by “Rational and the Emotional Worlds” presented by Marcel Wanders for LG Hausys during Milan Design Week. The amazing installation explored the wide range of possibilities by LG, mapping out two different worlds: one of rationality and one of emotion. It was in this same exhibition that “Blooming Universe”, a collaboration between Wandes and the brand, shined with complementary furniture blending in perfectly with the surroundings.
The French architect made an impact with “Project: Office for Living”. This initiative was revolutionary not on the fact that it explored the changes taking place in the workplace, but also the alternative to some “unbelievable” offices that will be rendered as useless 30 to 40 years from now according to Nouvel himself. Within the exposition, there were many new office scenarios, as well as some new pieces by new pieces by designers Michele De Lucchi, Marc Newson, Philippe Starck, and Ron Arad.
Who wants to showcase temporarily in Milan when you can just create a gallery or showroom in Milan city and make a more permanent presence there? Over the years many designers and brands have invested in the creation of galleries and showrooms in order to have a more lasting presence in the city considered to be the capital of fashion and design. When Milan Design Week comes around these showrooms become obligatory stops for you to enjoy.
A spot you can’t afford to miss if you’re going to be in Milan during the Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone is the showroom in this same city. Located in Brera Design District it was first opened in 2008, being renovated ten years later. Aside from the new look of the showroom, many new collections by Carlo Colombo, Luca Galofaro, and Mario Ferrarini were introduced by this brand over the years.
Armani/Casa (as well as Armani Home) is another recurring presence at this design event. As a matter of fact, the designer and the brand as a whole have a weight presence in Milan, specifically thanks to the Armani/Silos museum, the Boutique Giorgio Armani, the Emporio Armani concept store and even a hotel (Armani Hotel Milano). Every year all of these spots become full of fans of the brand or just some curious folks wondering what trends is Armani himself up to.
Cassina has been another example of a brand that has managed to create a strong presence in Milan city. Led by Patricia Urquiola the brand’s establishment has been the perfect spot for it to showcase some of the main novelties of the brand. This showroom with over 50 years old has been the target of numerous interventions by some of the most famous names in Italian architecture. Some other relevant names that have collaborated with this brand are Michael Anastassiades with Ordinal or even Bouroullec brothers’ Cotton collection.
Galleria Rossana Orlandi is a must stop for anyone especially during Milan Design Week. Orlandi herself aside from proposing many challenges to young and aspiring designers has a large showcase of several furniture objects in her gallery such as lighting, mirrors, sofas, tables. The Gallery also mixes together a retails store, a showroom, a couple of offices and a courtyard for events and meetings. If you’re lucky you might even get the chance to meet the design legend herself Rossana Orlandi.
Molteni is notable for having the largest design showroom in Milan, as well as for being a clear reflection of Vincent Van Duysen’s design approach which mainly focuses on high-impact settings, infused with a sense of well-being. The spatial experience, the materials and the lighting (in partnership with Flos and Artemide) were deliberately designed to offer an atmospheric and involving experience, a new home concept based on the skillful alternation of spaces and material geometries.
The opening of Nilufar Depot was a big step for Nina Yashar. Milan’s top design dealer and her Nilufar Gallery in Via della Spiga have pulsed as the epicenter of achingly expensive mid-century gems as well as some of the hottest contemporary designs for the last two decades. In this three floored showroom, you can expect to be amazed by the huge atrium, inspired by La Scala opera house with the special touch of several vintages and colorful design elements. Every year during Milan Design Week this is one of the main stops for any design lover who wants to be amazed by Yashar’s creativity.
Mooi has been an inspiring brand for several years when it comes to lighting, and many more innovative furniture products currently on the market. In their showroom in Milan, you will be able to find a mix of their very best products reunited in one living room decoration solution.