Milan restarts: what to see, where to go

Waiting for the Salone in September, the design capital warms up with some events, talks and presentations, in person or on the screen

Tom Dixon, immagine a computer della nuova HYDRO Chairs a Palazzo Mondadori
Tom Dixon, immagine a computer della nuova HYDRO Chairs a Palazzo Mondadori

Milan, the design capital and Italy’s most international city, after months of closure, lights up with Milano Design City, two weeks of events from 12 to 23 April, including presentations, talks, conversations in person (finally!), but also hybrid initiatives mixing real and virtual content. A program offline and online, in showrooms, corporate headquarters, but also on Zoom, Instagram and interactive platforms, to reach a worldwide audience.

Tom Dixon, one of the brightest participants, approached the design week with an alter ego hologram, for a full immersion of 24 hours on 13 April, the day that would have marked the start of the Salone del Mobile, postponed until September. The 13th was a day of presentations, from Molteni&C and its new mood, a tribute of the creative director Vincent Van Duysen to the great masters Ignazio Gardella and Carlo Scarpa, to Poltrona Frau, which unveiled the Take your Time collection online, a series that urges us to take things slowly and to grasp every detail through the senses. Cassina chose the morning of 14 April to narrate its new collection, presented by dual moderators, the art director Patricia Urquiola and the CEO Luca Fuso.

Visionnaire, Anthem Living Room
Visionnaire, Anthem Living Room

Displays not to be missed include the ‘room of ideas’ of Antoniolupi, with new creations by Gumdesign, Calvi Brambilla, Carlo Colombo, and others. Then the Rooms by Moroso, five different interpretations of living space at the showroom on Via Pontaccio, a project by Marco Viola narrated by Patrizia Moroso, art director of the company. Giulio Cappellini has wagered on the dreamy hyper-decorative imagery of Elena Salmistraro for the Cappellini space on Via Santa Cecilia, with the installation Amor Fati, a vibrant backdrop for the furnishings of Jasper Morrison, Cyril Dunděra & Matěj Janský, and Francesco Forcellini. To explore the physical-digital divide at its best, Visionnaire – in the Wunderkammer of the Visionnaire Design Gallery in Milan – stages Regine by the artist Paolo Leonardo, while organizing talks and live encounters, including digital and phygital initiatives with a focus on sustainability.

B&B Italia, via Durini
B&B Italia, via Durini

The double design week is a chance to unveil new products and trump cards, as in the case of B&B Italia which presents Noonu, the new upholstered furniture system by Antonio Citterio, an atoll of relaxation inspired by the island paradise of the same name in the Maldives. Zanotta presents the Intimacy collection in its showroom at the Caselli di Porta Garibaldi, exploring the relationship between furnishings and people through six home and contract settings. Riflessi, at Piazza Velasca, exhibits Square, the brand’s first table with a patented top, with a barrel shape that combines the advantages of square and circular profiles. HDsurface, on Via Volta, displays its indoor-outdoor continuous facings in concrete and resin, or metal and stone powders.

Porro, Duriniquindici
Porro, Duriniquindici

Shop windows are full of colorful sculptural presences: Alpi, in the showroom on Via Solferino, explores dense, saturated colors for wooden surfaces, with the French Palette by Piero Lissoni; Gervasoni on Via Durini stages new indoor proposals created by Paola Navone, and the outdoor furnishings of Elena Sanguankeo and Chiara AndreattiLiving Divani, with a dual event in the Milan showroom, including projects by Piero Lissoni, Marco Lavit and Mist-o, and in the headquarters at Anzano del Parco, with the permanent collection and the launch of the indoor-outdoor family by Piero Lissoni, David Lopez Quincoces, Marco Lavit and Mist-o. On Via Durini, Porro offers a series of spaces without structural and conceptual barriers, where the Modern cabinets, the System bookcases and the Storage wardrobes interact with the new Glide doors in a setting created by Piero Lissoni.

Some of the players have gotten ready for this design week with a new look, or by opening new spaces: Jannelli&Volpi leaves its former location on Via Melzo and doubles up in the Brera district with two addresses, for professionals and the general public; De Castelli opens a work of architecture by Cino Zucchi on Via Visconti di Modrone, as a stage for the new Rame at Home collection; Sahrai, in the temporary store on Via Manzoni, condenses all its history and savoir-faire in the art of carpets; Misha updates its space with very colorful and exotic wallcoverings by Cristina Celestino and furnishings by Studio 2046Lapalma opens Lapalma for Architects, with a materials library and a tech lab; Dom Edizioni welcomes visitors to a refined, intimate showroom, like a dwelling facing the church of San Marco, on the first floor of a mid-century building; finally, Rexa Design opens the doors of a new outlet at Via Molino delle Armi 14, in collaboration with Mo.1950.

WeWork, Via Giuseppe Mazzini 9
WeWork, Via Giuseppe Mazzini 9

In spite of everything, Milan comes alive and attracts interest, as well as the investments of major international developers: the American giant WeWork has just completed a maxi office space on Via Mazzini, over 7700 sqm on 8 floors, ready to host up to 1100 people. In this ‘small’ metropolis, the architect Vittorio Grassi has created Principe Amedeo 5, an architectural gem from the 1800s, formerly the location of the American consulate, restored, expanded, reinvented and transformed as an office building, with surprising results that have led to candidacy for the Mies van der Rohe award in 2022.

As for any Fuorisalone, there has to be the Fuorisalone Digital edition, a platform that sums up and gathers all the programming, this year on the theme of Forms of Living, with talks, webinars, online round tables, to discuss the needs of the home and the evolution of residential spaces. And the districts are also taking part, including the Brera Design District, 5VIE, Isola Design District and Milano Durini Design, all with digital and physical events. If making the rounds has worn you out, take a break amidst the pastel hues of Bun Burgers, by the Valencia-based studio Masquepacio, an obligatory pitstop for those on the lookout for Instagrammable spots for gourmet dining.