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Milan Design Week 2019 & Salone del Mobile 2019: Our highlights

In April each year, Milan hosts Milan Design Week and the Salone del Mobile. If you’ve never been, it can be difficult to comprehend the sheer scale of these events:

All over the city, light blue banners adorn the entrances to historic palaces and fairytale-like courtyards, all of which house breathtaking interior designs and extraordinary creative installations. Here are just some of the exhibits that left a lasting impression on us after our explorations of the city.

Stunning art: Discovering Milan

One piece of contemporary art that is sure to be etched in the memories of many a visitor to Milan Design Week is the giant unzipped building by sculptor Alex Chinneck in Via Tortona. It was night when we first paid a visit to this building, and at first we thought our eyes were playing tricks on us – but a visit by daylight confirmed this installation as one of the major highlights of the entire event.

Installations by well-known fashion label Cos in Palazzo Isimbardi and by Tarkett, a manufacturer of floor coverings, in Palazzo Clerici were equally impressive. Both of these exhibits focused on the experimental use of innovative and sustainable materials – a trend that we would encounter again and again throughout the event.

A tip for next year’s Design Week: Both Palazzo Isimbardi and Palazzo Clerici are top of the list for anyone looking for innovative exhibits.

Perfect match: Modern design in a historic setting

Slightly off the beaten track and in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of location, we stumbled across the Ro-Garage by Rossana Orlandi, one of Milan’s most famous gallery owners and talent scouts. Tucked away in an overgrown rear courtyard, this unique creative oasis housed a sound exhibit by Bang & Olufsen, Altreforme with an extraordinary collection of brightly coloured mirrors and Please Wait to be Seated, with an exhibit entirely in a sophisticated shade of dark blue.

A particular highlight of this exhibition was the new collection by European design label , which could be accessed only by making your way along countless corridors and up various staircases and into the second part of the historic building.While many parts of the gallery featured a bright and lively colour scheme, the new collection by Ini Archibong – entitled “Below The Heavens” – uses soft colours and gently curving lines to bring a sense of peace and harmony to the space. The new pieces in the Sé collection IV Part II include a new version of the “Atlas Dining Chair”, new designs for the “Moirai” chandelier collection and an extraordinarily futuristic sofa.

Milan Design Week: Superstudio plays host to exciting newcomers from Ukraine

Zona Tortana is a must-see on the agenda of any visitor to Milan Design Week. The area is full of large industrial buildings with ample space for installations and scope for creative ideas. The “Superstudio” is one such building, named after the eponymous Florence architect firm – which is known as one of the most influential players in the avant-garde movement of the sixties and seventies. Alongside famous names such as Normann Copenhagen, the Superstudio played host to a number of experimental exhibits and showcased work by talented newcomers to the scene, including a number of Ukrainian designers, who presented their collaborative MODERN_ISM project.

Inspired by the modernist movement, the designers’ creations were an expression of their aesthetic and philosophical outlook.

The young Ukrainian label NOOM Home exhibited its limited Suprematic Collection of vases and lamps. Suprematism is an early-20th century modern art movement based on geometric forms. Another exhibitor hailing from Ukraine was Nadiia, an up-and-coming company whose work aims to bring the spiritual and artistic potential of physical objects into our everyday lives. The firm produces its traditional, hand-made ceramics in partnership with Kiev-based artist Masha Reva.

Sustainable design and big visions from Oslo

Scandinavian design label Elementa aims to create designs for people and the environment they inhabit. Their latest project – which is still at prototype stage – is a stylish insect hotel known as Koloni. The vision, as explained by the exhibitor in a chat with us, is to create a design that will not only find a home in gardens across the world, but will also be deployed in vast numbers in cities to protect insect populations in urban areas. The hotel is comprised of a robust aluminium outer shell with a solid wood core. The differently sized holes act as a great hiding place and provide dry nesting spots for insects.

Another highlight from Elementa was the minimalist KI table lamp, which serves a dual purposes as a “grow light” to sustain people and their plants all year round – even in the darkest seasons of the year. The label offers a model with a foot that can hold a plant and a version that can be installed into the base of a plant pot. The “umbrella” part of the lamp, which is held in place by a magnet, can be moved up and down and tilted easily to suit the user’s needs. The dimmable lamp provides a full, white LED light, which is perfect for plants and easy on the eye.

Hot on the heels of String Furniture’s launch of a new colour in its classic shelving at imm cologne, the company has now unveiled a limited edition of the String Pocket to mark its 70th anniversary. Created by designer Mats Theselius, the panels of the new String Pocket are crafted in powder-coated stainless steel, with shelves in engraved glass. The glass special edition will be limited to a run of 2019 pieces and will be available from September.

After spending three days in the Italian metropolis of Milan, my top tips for your visit would be this: Pack comfortable shoes and allow yourself at least three full days to explore this wonderful city and see the main sights. Don’t miss the Zona Tortona and Brera, and make sure you plan a visit to the exhibition site where the Salone del Mobile is held. And as for the comfortable shoes: I walked over 64,000 steps in three days in Milan, and I still didn’t see everything. Say no more!

Did you visit Milan Design Week this year? Tell us about your highlights!

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