Having just returned from a buzzing week in Milan, my entire being is alive with inspiration! As a born and raised European, I feel at home in Italy—the colors, sights, and sounds awaken every part of me, allowing me to approach the week with an open heart. Because there was so much to see and integrate, I could write so many posts about Milan Design Week. There is Salone del Mobile, FuoriSalone, Euroluce and the list goes on.
Strolling through the beautiful streets of Milan, from the courtyards and brilliant Renaissance architecture to the modern design and styles, the sheer breadth of beauty, style, fashion, design all encompassed in modernity take my breath away. Although there is much to discuss, here are some of my first highlights from my time in Italy. Expect more in the coming weeks.
Walking in the Brera Design District (among others) to experience satellite events, pop up events and exhibitions of Milan Design Week was a delight. Some store facades celebrated either with eccentric decor or with vibrant florals, popping like bright fireworks against the city’s traditional stucco and granite.
Milan is Italy’s style capital, so, as expected, some major Fashion brands were involved in Milan Design Week, making these satellite events incredible. Dimore Studio embraced many events for Milan Design Week and one of the immersive experiences was their Milan Design Week Trifecta Collaborative Installation with Dior. Seen here, the exhibit featured a series of super lux limited-edition Dior items.
While NiIufar Depot had stunning vintage furniture on display, we could find breathtaking woven wicker objects in the Hermes showroom. Gucci, the italian fashion house, opened its doors to a temporary pop up shop. Creative director Alessandro Michele designed the interiors, modeling them after an apartment with a maximalist aesthetic. It was decorated with the brand‘s signature patterns and prints. On display were its latest houseware collection, including furniture,wallpaper, porcelain, dinnerware, cushions and blankets, all incredibly colorful and with a luxurious mix of textures and patterns.
At Palazzo Serbelloni, Louis Vuitton tapped a global cast of all-star designers and architects of the Objets Nomades collection at Salone 2019. Standouts included The Campana Brothers’ Bulbo chair, on which, Louis Vuitton leather lined each of its petals. Shigeru Ban’s Paper Temporary Structure, seen in the palazzo’s neoclassical courtyard, was a favorite, constructed out of recycled paper tubes. Alberto Biagetti and artist Laura Baldassari wowed with a nod to their shared hometown of Ravenna, and specifically, the Adriatic Sea, which inspired their Anemona Table.
Textile maven Kvadrat’s exhibition at Garage Ventuno in collaboration with Raf Simons, artist Finn Sködt, and graphic design creative Rikako Nagashima invited you to stay for a while. Now in its sixth iteration, Kvadrat and fashion designer Raf Simons presented four new textiles in an extraordinary dystopian exhibition called “No Man’s Land,” which encompassed both mid-century architecture and the darlings of the London culinary scene. A dystopian installation, including three prefab buildings by the late Jean Prouvé, furniture by Gerrit Rietveld for Cassina, and a floral work by Mark Colle (seen here). The exhibition gave insight into the future of textiles, which blurs the lines between disciplines.
Artemest, in partnership with TED Milano, shared a theatrical exhibition, Living Objects: Design Meets the Delightful Soul of the Theater in a Historic Milanese Setting. This breathtaking, immersive experience took viewers into a 1930s villa complete with curated lighting, furniture, and decor, all crafted by local Italian designers and craftsmen. The villa was filled with the designers’ imaginations of contemporary life, complete with performers, revealing a seemingly effortless tableau of the human experience at home. As a dancer, I felt the poetry of movement added infinite, resounding depth to the experience.
Artist Zanellazine sculptures below
At Salone Internazionale Del Mobile, several brands stood out for their radiant use of color and texture.
When talking about color, Missoni Home is a natural starting point. This unique fashion design house has a steady knack for playing with color, but this year, they took things a step further. Debuting fresh takes on bright candy-inspired hues and playing with pattern in new ways, the lines Missoni introduced were a breath of fresh air. A stand-out was their petal collection, playful, but never cartoonish.
Kartell had many vignettes to share, each representing different brands that Kartell has carried over the years. Each vignette displayed patterns and colors working in tandem to create unique looks, alive with visual interest. Here one of the softest vignettes featuring pastel tones and floral prints playing against one another, creating an illustrative feel.
One of my favorites, Etro Home Interiors, offers iconic fabrics, scenographic designs and a bold colour palette. Their eclectic collection evokes a nomadic fable that lies between myth and legend. A contemporary design and decorative spirit were harnessed for the Aleppo bookcase, characterised in the central column, by an horn onlay. The design is a nod to the decorative theme of the Mesopotamian world and to the ethnic spirit that distinguishes Etro Home in the world of interiors.
Additionally, Sancal, a spanish modern brand, created Turati collection, a tribute to Milan’s architecture and the city’s capacity to transform the contemporary into classic. Inspired by the colour, light, materials and even graphic image of one of MIlan’s metro stations, Sancal’s new collection and its backdrop, offered a pleasing palette of grey, yellow and red tones.
In addition to innovations in color, we were thrilled to see sustainability pop up again and again as a theme in installations and product launches across Salone del mobile. A prime example is B&B Italia’s new Mirto outdoor tables, featuring black lavastone tops decorated with a intricate Sicilian-lace-like patterns made with crushed screens, recycled from gadgets.
As a steady advocate for tech and AI, I was moved by tech giant, Google’s participation in the Salone del Mobile. Their multi-room installation, “Space of Being,” explored the field of neuroaesthetics. A collaboration between Google, Scandinavian furniture brand Muuto, New York based architecture firm ReddyMade and the International Arts + Mind Lab at John Hopkins University’s Brain Science Institute, the exhibition was forward-thinking and innovative, to say the least.