Milan Design Week Highlights 2018

Italians love to party and so do we at Salone del Mobile, and there’s no doubt about it. But over the last couple of years, we have noticed that the party has definitely started to feed into the exhibitions themselves. Design Week is like New Year’s Eve for the design industry, so here are our top 10 highlights packaged up for you to kickstart your own design party back home. Would you like a Negroni with that?

1. Six Gallery

Transformed by duo Quincoces-Dragò to create a New Design destination that houses their offices, a florist, a bistro (designed by them), and a gallery where they will showcase vintage and contemporary furnishing. Husband-and-wife team David Lopez Quincoces and Fanny Bauer Grung, who met during their tenure under legendary architect Piero Lissoni and established their own architecture firm called Quincoces-Dragò in 2009. Now, as they continue to take on ambitious projects like the New York location of the much-hyped coffee spot Dr. Smood and a members’ club in Tuscany, they have collaborated with fellow designer Mauro Orlandelli to turn an abandoned Milanese monastery into a hub of all things design. Called Six, the space in the Italian city’s Navigli neighbourhood. Photos: Alberto Strada

2. Chez Nina by India Mahdavi at Nilufar Gallery.

The renowned exhibition space and concept store founded by curator, dealer and aesthete Nina Yashar. Paris based designer India Mahdavi has imagined an exclusive club vibe called ‘Chez Nina’ a bold atmosphere, decorated with custom velvet banquettes from a collection by the designer for Pierre Frey. Glass tables in bright pastel tones alongside antiques from Yashar’s own collection from some of the masters in Italian design: Gio Ponti, Angelo Lelli and Martini Gamper. Photo: © Mattia Lott

3. ClubUnseen by Studiopepe

‘We wanted to create an exclusive place, an informal refuge away from the usual crowded itineraries,’ explained Chiara Di Pinto of the six-room club, which occupied a former late 19th-century warehouse on the ground floor of an elegant historic Milanese property in the Piazza Tricolore neighbourhood. The series of rooms, laid out in linear format to suit the slender footprint of the space, were furnished in pieces that are custom-designed by Studiopepe for the project, combined with classic and contemporary pieces, wallcoverings and elements curated from almost 30 brands including Agape, &Tradition, de Sede, Dedar and Tacchini. Initially billed as ‘one of the best kept secrets of Salone’, word spread fast and the club created by Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto, aka multidisciplinary design agency Studiopepe, swiftly became one of the hottest tickets in town. Guests gained entry via a tattoo (sent by post) of the simple circular logo, adding to the intrigue.

4. Flexform Stand at Rho Fiera.

Flexform entered the world of “Italian Design” in 1970 and has elevated it’s growth since, radically changing the concept of socialising and inhabiting space. The coherent design and timeless approach is made of a balanced mixture of refined lightness that is never passé. A concentrate of aesthetic poise and moderation, an understated, eternally modern approach. This year we had the privilege of interviewing Carlo Colombo who took part in transforming public and private showrooms, offices, restaurants and villas. Working with the highest quality design items, some of his greatest projects is the Hong Kong Louvre Gallery. Carlo has worked for several brands such as Moroso, Poliform, Poltrona Frau and Varenna and received the ‘Designer of the Year’ award in Toyko in 2014. This year, the Flexform team raised the bar creating a central glass oasis, with a central lush and tropical garden to further soothe a furniture fanatics soul against the frenetic energy of the fair. A return to Nature and Materialty but in true and coherent Flexform style.

5. Kristalia at Rho Fiera

A thread at this year’s fair was definitely a return to Nature and natural elements and tones. Subsequently, at Kristalia, the façade of the stand was adorned with greenery cascading down dark grey wireframe structure to frame the opening to the stand and displaying current and existing pieces like actors on stage. We had the pleasure of meeting dup LucidiPevere who themselves mentioned a return and reconnection to nature and in fact, their hometown is always a part of their design process. The new interior Brioni collection and the release of Lips are the new products showcased this year. Kristalia have a beautiful way of fusing design necessity with beauty.

6. Tram Corallo

Cristina Celestino chose to reinterpret the historic streetcars of the city, imagining an ideal “Cinema Corallo” that circulated in the Brera district during Design Week. In true Celestino signature the layer of texture and tones within the spectrum of the colour pink, of course, Cristina brought a stage a suggestive screening room on rails, an unexpected and evocative place, an authentic travelling salon inside a historic tram from 1928, reinterpreted in a contemporary way. The project was inspired by the theme of the journey, as an experience with dream and surreal overtones. Milan and its urban landscapes are the main subject of the surreal footage that enters through the ribbon windows at the back of the tram, in a dimension that seems to travel in space and time. The tram itself is totally custom-made interior design project, and a precious and quite exclusive mode of transport, the environment reflects the designer’s aesthetic, where precious materials and references to the past, contemporary intuitions and visionary spirit are harmoniously combined. Photo by Mattia Balsamini

7. Dimore Studio

Milanese heroes Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci of DimoreStudio revealed their latest projects in three different spaces on Via Solferino. The Scheherazade-inspired installation of tents mixed historical designs and works of art with contemporary pieces, always set to an incredibly curated soundtrack, to reinforce the experience and emotion. Across the Internal courtyard, the duo revealed additions to their Progetto Non Finito and Oggetti collections, among them arachnid floor lamps reminiscent of Louise Bourgeois spiders and a bamboo-clad table in the spirit Gabriella Crespi. And in Dimore’s new street-level space down the block, they transformed pieces of furniture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, deconstructing them and injecting new finishes and materials in a sea of purple. Molto bene!

8. Hermes

In matters of scenography, Hermès never disappoints. This year’s concept for Milan Design Week— Deputy artistic director of the French luxury brand Charlotte Macaux Perelman —was a dazzling colour-blocked environment at the Museo della Permanente. To lend a sense of intimacy to a new collection of furniture, tabletop, and textiles, she devised small, cavelike structures within the museum that were clad in 150,000 colourful Moroccan zellige tiles and took a total of 3 weeks to install. Colour, materials and craftsmanship are expressed in seven architectural structures. The audience had a vivid sense of almost bathing in colour throughout the entire installation.

9. Snarkitecture for Caesarstone

Caesarstone teamed up with Snarkitecture to take over the romantic Palazzo dell’Ufficio Elettorale di Porta Romana, never before open to the public during Milan Design Week, which was set inside an abandoned 19th-century building during this year’s fair. Amid the building’s timeworn arches, the Brooklyn studio created the notion of the kitchen as a domestic stage, creating an amphitheatre of pedestals with a sculptural island of Caesarstone White Attica at its centre. Melting ice, running faucets, and steam played with the idea of water as the kitchen’s main ingredient. The installation titled The Altered States “Was to focus on the kitchen island and to really think about it as the hub of the home – a place where we cook, eat, entertain, work, interact and socialise,” Snarkitecture co-founder Alex Mustonen.

10. MINI Living – Built by all.

The automotive brand presented a new visionary living concept at Milan design week, a ‘Factory of Ideas’ as such. A collaboration with Studiomama, the ‘MINI LIVING – built by all’ installation embellishes upon the brand’s progressive themes and highlights the importance of the principle of participation. The architecture aims to understand and address each individual’s requirements, needs and ideas, enabling the potential for close collaborations between residents and architects in the not-too-distant future. The standardised housing market is limited in its ability to meet the requirements of the individual,’ says Oke Hauser, creative lead MINI LIVING, explaining their approach behind their installation was that “MINI LIVING – built by all installation turns people into active creators and puts them back at the heart of the design process. We believe the quality of a living space is determined by how well the residents identify with their home”.