Molto Milano: All the Highlights From Milan Design Week


Now in its 55th year, the Salone del Mobile fair in Milan has grown into a weeklong celebration of furniture design, with countless satellite events in and around Milan, and some 30,000 new pieces introduced, by my educated guesstimate. And the designers who have started out here have grown with the fair, like the Dutch duo Nynke Tynagel and Job Smeets of Studio Job, who are exhibiting 13 new objects here, all characterized by their dry wit. They complained that they did not have time to see their various exhibitions around town, even as they were chauffeured about in a German luxury vehicle—a far cry from the first time they showed up here, when they were happy to camp out in a Volkswagen bus. All of that is to say there is a lot of ground to cover during Milan design week, not to mention a lot of aperitivos to sip. We’ll go as far as the eye can travel, or at least as long as our feet hold up.


This year, Nilufar’s outpost in Viale Lancetti focused on two rooms by Roberto Baciocchi, architect of Prada stores worldwide. He also designed the Bar at Fondazione Prada (with Wes Anderson’s artistic direction). But the real surprise are the gorgeous vessels—both vases and lights—whose surfaces evoke tree bark. They are the result of a century-old process of forging bronze.

Photo by Luigi Scaglione.


At the Kvadrat showroom in Corso Montforte, Japanese fashion designer Akira Minagawa contributed lightly flowered, see-through Trevira curtains in pastel colors. They tone down the sun’s brightness without destroying the view. Hella Jongerius came up with a brilliant hand-tufted wool and viscose carpet named Danskina, a lattice pattern that arrived in gorgeous shades. These two strong products will give the Danish fabric manufacturer—Bjarke Ingels is a true believer in their product—a great start to the Spring 2016 season.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


Kvadrat showroom.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


As in the two previous years, London’s Serpentine Gallery managed to draw eyes to La Rinascente, Milan’s greatest department store, and its eight windows on the Piazza del Duomo. Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg were the two star curators pt in place to fuse fashion and design in the shadow of the Duomo, appropriately, they played with shadows. Following the Salone way, Rinascente installations took to the street: “The Chameleon and The Souq,” by Aldo Cibic, emphasized the transitory nature of Milan’s annual showcase, taking as a point of departure the magical but short-lived chameleons traditionally seen in the Souks of the Magreb.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


La Rinascente.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


An old movie theatre on Largo Augusta, not far from the Duomo, was transformed by the Italian furniture producer Baxter into a showroom complete with a generously planted courtyard and an outdoor bar. This year saw the debut of Paola Navone’s Roma chair, with a base of walnut-stained ash and round seat of cast aluminum. Its cushion is made out of an old Baxter standby: leather. They have hundreds of samples at hand for their customers’ perusal. Our favorite: Cloister Grey.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


Baxter cinema.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


Eccentric designer Ron Arad collaborated with Patricia Moroso as his curator for the Salone equivalent of a ghost train in via Pontaccio, in the heart of the Brera district. Or should one call it a selfie express? Attendees could not resist FaceTiming or selfies from a rocking red sofa and other fun furniture in the darkened space.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


Ron Arad x Moroso.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


#Knitown, the mise-en-scene dreamed up for Spazio Missoni in Via Solferino, proved a magnet for Twitter and Instagram. The colorful tents, a “surreal and abstract landscape” conceived by artist Aldo Lanzini, under a shower of light, shadow, and flashing bulbs, were irresistible. The name #Knitown is a bit misleading: Many of Lanzini’s creations—in waves, zigzags, stripes, and Greek frets—are actually crochet.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


Spazio Missoni exhibition.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


Spazio Missoni exhibition.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


The Danish manufacturer Hay rented the cavernous former La Pelota hall in Brera to exhibit its carefree chairs and other furniture. There were new creations by brothers Ronan & Ernan Bouroullec who attempted to reinvigorate the whole idea of the sofa itself, from something heavy and complicated to something simple and relaxed. There were Bourollec benches and garden furniture the garden outside, and the Danish restaurateur Bille Brahe created modern, fresh vegetable dishes to be served to hoards of young flaneurs. Move over, pasta.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


Hay exhibition.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


At Fontana Arte, design icon Paola Navone turned a pine cone into lighting. Pinecone, suspended from the ceiling or as a table lamp, is available in a glossy transparent or a milky white acid-etched version. “In this way, the glass is partly trapped by and partly escapes the cage, generating an impression of tension as the object struggles to free itself from harness,” she explained. Brava, Paola.

Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


The installation at Fontana Arte. Photo by Marianna Carpelli.


Up and coming Mario Milana, son of the sculptor and exhibition designer Dario Milana, joined the “Ladies and Gentlemen” show in via Cesare Correnti with a new collection named giottO, a rotation room divider composed of three circular elements that rotate, creating a dynamic screen; note the coffee table girO with a rotating disc system conducive to sharing food. And on the walls, whimsical “colorscapes” by Tommaso Fantoni.

Mario Milana at Ladies and Gentleman exhibition. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Coralla Maiuri and Giorgia Zanellato for Secondome, at the Ladies and Gentleman exhibition. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Christian Pegoraro at Botteganove. Ladies and Gentleman exhibition. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Botteganove at Ladies and Gentleman exhibition. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Stefano Marolla for Secondome. Ladies and Gentleman exhibition. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Swarovski debuted its first home collection during Salone in an exhibition on via Cusani. It is great: Daniel Libeskind came up with a new game of chess, using his World Trade Center buildings in miniature, set on a mirrored board. “A crystal is a metaphor for life,” he said. “You see a superficial surface, but also the depth.” Equally stunning are Fredrikson Stallard’s “Glaciarium” candle holders, vases and bowls; Kim Thomé’s candleholders; and Tord Bontje’s wine coolers, nut bowls, and a caviar set. If you can afford to fill it, you can afford it.

Swarovski Home exhibition. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Swarovski Home exhibition. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


With its unique assembly of Brazilian furniture on view in the Via Spiga gallery, Nilufar’s Nina Yashar once more proves that she is the local champion of beautiful objects. Celebrating the work of six greats from 1940 – 1970, the furniture of José Zanine Caldas, Martin Eisler, Oscar Niemeyer, Sergio Rodrigues, Joaquim Tenreiro and Jorge Zalszupin is as precious as it looks. Plus, something new and exciting: a line of contemporary rugs, with special pieces by textile greats Jorge Lizarazo (Hechizoo) and Haynes Robinson.

Installation at Nilufar gallery. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Installation at Nilufar gallery. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Installation at Nilufar gallery. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Karim Rashid’s installation at the Magna Pars hotel.

Photo by Martina Ferrara.


For somebody whose name is almost a synonym for futurism in industrial design, Karim Rashid turns out to be a real diehard. A ’70s song by pop-singer Gino Vanelli inspired the Canadian designer to call the acid-yellow and -green, water-based polyurethane sofa that snakes through the lobby of the hip Magna Pars hotel in Zona Tortona “River Must Flow.” The wildly-tattooed Rashid (the ones on his arms represent major projects in an ever-growing number of cities around the world) has the air of a rock star, and it is hard to pin him down in a public space without being interrupted. In a Salone where everyone is collaborating with everyone, he might be the one with the most projects, with 16 around town.

Karim Rashid. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Julian Watts’ wooden kitchen accessories.


Black Speaker Cabinet at BDDW.


Black Speaker Cabinet at BDDW.


Any excuse is good enough to go to Milan, proclaimed Tyler Hays when he opened the only showroom for his BDDW (and now the new M.Crow) line outside of Manhattan two years ago in Via Santa Marta. The Milanese are suckers for Hays’ westernized rustic style that extends to bottle-green leather sling chairs, canvas coats, and whimsical egg-shaped floor tiles. Formally trained as a painter and sculptor with an extensive residency in Florence, Hays is a true renaissance man; he likes to wield the brush, drive the sewing machine, plain the oak, and hunt deer—with a bow and arrow—with his own hands. (But he does not cook it.)

A portrait of Tyler Hays.


TacTile Lighting at the Lasvit Glass André Fu.


TacTile Lighting at the Lasvit Glass André Fu.


“I am the Fu without the Kung,” joked André Fu, Hong Kong’s design wunderkind who was a mere 30 years old when he put his Upper House Hotel firmly on the design map in his home city. Now, barely 40 and heading a team of 20, Fu is branching out: into perfume, with his bamboo-scented “Fargesia,” and into lighting, by transforming glass shards, twice molded and conceived after traditional Chinese roof tiles, into a lamp collection for Czech manufacturer LASVIT. The renaissance of the Modernist Glass Block proved a stunning contrast to its neoclassical setting in Palazzo Serbelloni.

Portrait of André Fu.


Dazzling Dialogues 3 by Noortje van Eekelen at Moooi.


Tartan Haze, Gray Sand by Marcel Wanders at Moooi.


Ivory Hall by Valerio Sommella at Moooi.


Palais Royal by Maison Christian Lacroix at Moooi.


The Unexpected Welcome by Marcel Wanders. Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Louis Benech for Botania Nara


Louis Benech for Botania Nara


Louis Benech for Botania Nara


Louis Benech for Botania Nara


The man recently chosen to inject new life into Versailles’ neglected Water Theatre, Louis Benech—who likes to call himself, fancifully, a gardener—is climbing way up there on the landscape architects’ firmament. The Frenchman’s majestic teak pieces for Royal Botanica’s Black Label NARA collection, presented in a cozy courtyard in Milan’s Zona Tortana, make it evident that Benech ain’t warming the bench no more. As you might’ve guessed, his favorite color is … green.

Portrait of Louis Benech.


Photo by Martina Ferrara.


Photo by Martina Ferrara.


The modern, minimalist Swedish clothing brand COS collaborated with one of the world’s most famous contemporary architects, Sou Fujimoto. Taking the “Forest of Light” theme of COS’s summer 2016 collection quite literally, Tokyo-based Fujimoto illuminated the darkened bowels of a ’30s movie theater, Cinema Arti, in the San Babila district, with towering cones of light that respond to visitors’ movements. A few have been caught jumping from spot to spot to stay in the limelight, just like in real life.

Photo by Martina Ferrara.