Need help planning your Milan Design Week itinerary? We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking to indulge in your inner design nerd, let go at a dance party, or simply escape, the projects spotlighted by our editors below comprise what we predict will be the greatest hits of the week.
Be sure to follow Surface online and through social media (@SurfaceMag) from April 17–22 for our takes on the best things to see.
Spencer Bailey, Editor-in-Chief
“Of all the things I’m looking forward to the most during Milan Design Week this year—aside from The Diner, of course—at the top of my list is ‘Typecasting’ [La Pelota, Via Palermo, 10], a presentation edited by the Paris-based designer Robert Stadler that will juxtapose current Vitra products with other pieces, including prototypes, special editions, and rejects, from the company’s vast archives. I’m especially excited about ‘The Communal Sofa,’ a part of the Vitra-Stadler showcase that will feature new furniture concepts by designers like Konstantin Grcic, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Over at the gallery Rossana Orlandi [Via Matteo Bandello, 14/16], Google and the trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort will present ‘Softwear,’ an installation that seeks to make hardware more ‘sensorial’ by incorporating textiles and tactility; the presentation will include specially commissioned wall hangings by Dutch designer Kiki van Eijk. Near the Vitra-Stadler presentation, Danish textile company Kvadrat will show ‘Really: Circular by Design’ [Via Palermo, 1], an exhibition curated by Jane Withers and Njusja de Gier that explores the various possibilities of upcycled textiles with seven designers, including Jonathan Olivares, Benjamin Hubert, and Raw-Edges Design Studio.
In Zona Tortona, the Japanese design studio Nendo—which this year is also unveiling a chair with Fritz Hansen at the Danish brand’s Milan store—will present the exhibition ‘Nendo: Forms of Movement’ [Via Tortona, 27], featuring ten material- and technology-forward concepts, in collaboration with Japanese manufacturers you and I have never heard of, all focusing on the idea of movement. Lastly, I’m always into whatever Hermès is doing. No company understands ‘quiet luxury’ the way this one does. Hermès contributes to Milan Design Week in a meaningful way with its home collections; whatever it does during Salone is never just a brand exercise or ‘activation.’ It’s one of the few luxury houses that truly understands the value of investing in and producing truly remarkable design objects—at last year’s presentation, I found the bamboo seating by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza particularly spectacular. This year, Hermès will be at the Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente museum [Via Filippo Turati, 34].”
Tiffany Jow, Design Editor
“The projects at the top of my Milan must-see list are characterized by zest and intelligence—precisely the kind of energy I’m pining for right now. I can’t wait to seeIni Archibong’s collection for Sé, presented at Rossana Orlandi [Via Matteo Bandello 14/16]. Titled ‘Below the Heavens,’ the series, which totals more than twenty pieces and will be rolled out over the next two years, exudes the refined, otherworldly quality that defines the Nigerian American designer.
I’m also a huge fan of Gufram, and its Disco Gufram line—the Italian brand’s first-ever complete collection—captures its shamelessly fun, over-the-top spirit. (Fittingly, Gufram commissioned Toiletpaper’s Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari to photograph the project.) It’s opening a genuine disco space at Mediateca Santa Teresa [Via della Moscova, 28], where sofas by Atelier Biagetti, rugs by GGSV, and cabinets and coffee tables (topped with melting disco balls) by Rotgazen will be on view. Swarovski is building a glass pavilion hidden inside the Neoclassical palace, the Palazzo Serbelloni [Corso Venezia, 16], where it will present pieces for Atelier Swarovski Home by John Pawson, Patricia Urquiola, Nendo, and fashion designer Peter Pilotto. Last, I’m really looking forward to seeing Lara Bohinc’s exhibition, ‘Since the World Is Round,’ in the Centrale district [Via Popoli Uniti 11/13]. A versatile designer who studied metalwork and jewelry at the Royal College of Art before serving as a senior design consultant for Cartier for more than a decade, she’ll present a series of ethereal furniture and objects, including an earnest first stab at a design staple: the chair.”
William Hanley, Digital Director
“I have mixed feelings about panettone. But I’m excited about a new design exhibition housed in a factory where the festive, fruity bread was once made. Alcova [Via Popoli Uniti 11–13] is organized by Space Caviar, the Genoa architecture research outfit founded by curators Joseph Grima and Tamar Shafrir, and the Milan design agency Studio Vedèt. The vast, romantically dilapidated space—expanses of which are now open to the elements and have been retaken by Mother Nature—will host presentations by Paris- and Rome-based architect Sophie Dries, Belén from Amsterdam, and Milan’s own Luca Cipelletti, among other designers known for their clever and provocative work. I’m curious about how British duo Raw Edges will apply their penchant for repetitive patterns and perky colors to a wedding dance in a lighting installation titled “Horah” [Via Daniele Manin 21]. And I’m also looking forward to discovering a few emerging designers in Norwegian Presence [Via Tortona 31], a showcase of work from that country that promises to show a less staid side of Scandinavian design.
Whether he’s showing work in the back of a truck or meditating on the passage of time with a moody carousel, Lee Broom has mastered the Salone-week gesamtkunstwerk and always leaves an impression with installations that are as much about atmosphere as objects. This year, he’s introducing a celestial-themed collection with an installation, called “Observatory,” in Brera [Via Lovanio 6]. Get ready to gaze at new lighting work with names including Aurora, Eclipse, and Orion. Finally, across from the Duomo at Piazza Cesare Beccaria, Massimiliano Locatelli of CLS Architetti and Arup will be 3D-printing a 100-square-foot, four-room house out of concrete. The building, the first of its kind in Europe, will take shape throughout Milan Design Week. Someday I hope to live in one.”
Opening photo: Objects by Jo Nagasaka from Kvadrat’s “Really: Circular by Design” exhibition.