Must-sees of 2018

A design lover wouldn’t miss the charming Milan, the undisputed Italian capital of design, during the busiest and trendiest time of the year, outside of fashion week (obviously!). Milano Design Week attracts more than 2,000-plus exhibitors every year, from more than 188 countries, to expose at Salone del Mobile the acknowledged global platform for the home furnishing system. The 57th edition came back in all its glory from 17 – 22 April 2018, attracting more than 430.000 attendees.

But talking to my fellow lighting designers, 2018 wasn’t the Euroluce year. Indeed, the second biggest European lighting fair takes place every two years alternately to the most important, Light + Building in Frankfurt. So if you went this year thinking you would find the most innovative lighting technologies, you would have found a kitchen design exhibition id est Eurocucina. Except for the rare collaboration with the Masters of home design who asked lighting companies to lend them some lights, to jazz up the furniture displayed, you wouldn’t have seen any lighting stands. Therefore, for the lighting hunters it’s virtually never worth the tour when Euroluce doesn’t exhibit.

But don’t despair! The life of the party takes place beyond the Salone del Mobile and it’s notoriously called Fuorisalone (literally “outside Salone”). The city as a whole – with its showrooms, exhibitions and public art installations – becomes a total design stage, with Brera Design District, Superstudio in Tortona District, Ventura Future and Ventura Centrale, 5 Vie and Sant’Ambrogio area, and so on. This part of the Design Week takes over the trendsetting city with a plethora of must-sees and not-to-be-missed, setting design lovers on the impossible task of seeing it all.

Obviously, because I’m a combination of “Italian” and “design lover”, I couldn’t resist a Milan weekend getaway.

If you’re curious about this year’s highlights, here’s the result of 24 hours’ design not-to-be-missed, hunting between a delicious gelato and a refreshing Aperol Spritz (TBC the hottest April ever after my English relocation!).

Okay, so let’s cut the chatter…

SUPERSTUDIO PIÚ at TORTONA DISTRICT

The Tortona-based warehouse complex became, during the design week, the “place to be” for young and ambitious designers, but was also populated by the Masters of this creative industry.

The best of this Superstudio piú edition was the solo exhibition by Nendo – the well-known Japanese design studio. He created a suggestive itinerary showcasing 10 designs that deal with the concept of movement.

“Movement is an inseparable part of our being; we move our bodies, we move objects, and there are objects that move independently around us,” said Nendo.

Milan Design Week 2018 - NENDO

For the lighting lovers I can highlight a couple of quite interesting exhibitions:

The colour-changing chandelier, composed by tiny recessed RGW downlights above the iconic feature pendant lighting from Melogranoblu.

Milan Design Week 2018 - Melogranoblu

The “Crystal Rain” by Takahiro Matsuo in which the notes of a crystal grand piano are followed by a drop of light, mirrored in hundreds of crystal pendants, creating an interesting play of sound and light, all emphasised by the water floor.

Milan Design Week 2018 - Takahiro Matsu

VIA SAVONA at TORTONA DISTRICT

In the earth of Tortona District in Via Savona 56 the Dutch design company Moooi showcased a universe of mystical worlds and points of view inspired by the extraordinary diversity of life and nature, with the name “A Life Extraordinary”. After the success of the showroom in 2017, Moooi decided to propose an original theme to present the collection at Design Week 2018, celebrating nature’s diversity, stretching the limits of imagination, and showing the unexpected diversity of beauty.

Milan Design Week 2018 - Moooi

BRERA DISTRICT

“Breath of light” by the Czech Republic lighting manufacturer Preciosa was the big attraction of Brera District and one of the most instagrammed installations, with no doubt. The stunning new pendant “Pearl Drop” by designer Frank Tjepkema is brought to life by the human breath. Visitors were encouraged to blow intone to the four drops placed at the external edge of the “lighting sculpture”, only to see the drops consequently illuminated one by one, until the centre creates an amazing lighting effect.

Milan Design Week 2018 - Preciosa & Frank Tjepkema

At San Marco church was the collaboration between Viabizzuno and the artist and designer Henry Timi. The suggestive “Minimalismo Materico” is supported by the interaction between light, the religious space and the materials of Henry’s furniture design, which donate an harmonic, holistic, no time environment.

Milan Design Week 2018 - Henry Timi & Viabizzuno

PALAZZO ISIMBARDI

American artist Philip K Smith was in collaboration with fashion brand COS, exhibiting a fascinating imposing mirror structure inspired by the courtyard of the 16th-century building.

Milan Design Week 2018 - Philip K Smith & COS

UNIVERSITÀ STATALE DI MILANO

It’s always worth walking around the suggestive courtyard of the Milan University “Statale”, full of interesting installations and artistic collaborations. This year the topic was “House in Motion”, putting in relation the contemporary idea of global networks and the unavoidable nomadic human condition.

Milan Design Week 2018 - Milan University

VENTURA CENTRALE

Central Station’s abandoned big spaces came back to life thanks to the creative performance of well-known and emerging designers. Interesting was the union between lighting and the Japanese tradition of origami made by the artist Tomoko Fuse – she created a new series of lamps and objects out of traditional washi paper.

Milan Design Week 2018 - Tomoko Fuse

With regards to lighting it’s always worth a quick tour of the Brera District’s and Via Durini’s Italian lighting showrooms: Foscarini, Viabizzuno, iGuzzini (which launched the new showroom in Via Brera 5 during design week), Davide Groppi, Artemide, Flos, Luce Plan, Nemo and many others.

Particularly interesting this year was the installation born by the collaboration between Foscarini and the artist James Wines, which will also be presented this week at Clerkenwell Design Week, in London – for anyone interested here are a couple of previews:

“The Light Bulb Series”

Milan Design Week 2018 - The Light Bulb Series

“Reverse Room”

Milan Design Week 2018 - Reverse Room

There were many, many fascinating installations from Milan Design Week 2018, some of which I’ve talked about here. Now I’m awaiting the Euroluce 2019!

Images: Martina Alagna