25 Milan Design Week Highlights We Can’t Stop Thinking About

The thing about Milan Design Week—those sprawling, fizzy springtime days and nights in which an ever-growing constellation of interventions, exhibitions, galleries, and pop-ups seek to complement Salone del Mobile, regarded as the world’s largest furniture and design fair—is that no matter what, you miss most of it. An appointment with a respected designer at her showroom means your taxi, should you find one, will never make it to the city outskirts to see the show of up-and-comers everyone is talking about at the drinks you won’t make it to because of the dinner at a legend’s astonishing palazzo. By 2 a.m., the crowds at Milan Design Week mainstay Bar Basso spill into the street, negronis sweating in their hands, trying to remember what they saw that day and what they want to see tomorrow.

Fair Pass, Activated

It was a record-setting year for Salone del Mobile attendance, which clocked more than 360,000 visitors, a 17% increase from 2023. Those figures come as little surprise to those darting through the buzzing fair pavilions, each one loaded with fresh debuts and collaborations. Yabu Pushelberg worked with Kohler, refreshing the crowds with forward-thinking showers and saunas illuminated by lights keyed to circadian rhythms, which hopefully kept the New York duo calm as they mounted a dizzying schedule of other collaborations, including a restful tribute to tatami mats for an outdoor collection with Molteni&C and an expansion of the pebble-inspired Elio seating collection for Tribù.

Elsewhere at the fair, Hannes Peer, one of two new creative directors at Minotti, offered a curveball in tribute to French icon Saint Laurent, installing in a Salone del Mobile showroom the slinky, asymmetrical, and very chic Yves modular sofa which instantly made some of the fair’s other rows of clean-lined furnishings look rather, well, square. Throughout the halls, one finish made a repeat appearance: reflective shine. At Poliform, a khaki-colored sheen coated dining and cocktail tables by Jean-Marie Massaud. At B&B Italia, Piero Lissoni’s extendable Assiale dining table was shown slicked in oxblood lacquer, and at Flexform, cocktail tables sported painted glass tops that gave off a slick glisten. Meanwhile, Edra took the trend to the max with a full-on mirrored dining table named Phantom—perfect for Milan, where it can reflect an elaborate painted ceiling.

Around Town

One Milan Design Week strategy is to fill up at the design buffet that is Salone del Mobile; another is to nibble all around town. One event everyone put in effort to see? Alcova, which after seven years is now firmly among Milan Design Week’s mandatory events, attracted lines some three hours long. But the wait was more than worth the chance to see Objects of Common Interest collaborate with Dooor to turn the basement of the iconic Villa Borsani into a minimalist maze of color fields worthy of Suspiria, or Supaform’s upstairs effort which transformed Osvaldo Borsani’s office into a rough-edged retro-futurist take on WFH.

Another hit was Sam Ross’s bright orange, brutalist plumbing maze for Kohler set at Palazza del Sanato; with its focus on engineering, it was a sculptural marvel. Nearby, in the Brera Design District, it was a mad dash from the Palazzo Citterio to see Loewe’s lighting debut—for which creative director Jonathan Anderson commissioned bright ideas from some two dozen Loewe collaborators, including Anthea Hamilton’s floor-lamp take on a kimono, which every onlooker ached to take home. From there, festivities continued at Piero Lissoni’s studio, which served espresso and looks at the maestro’s latest work, which included chunky marble shelving and a sleek stainless steel kitchen for Boffi dubbed Novanta.

There was also the bounty of the 5Vie district, where Artemest welcomed six international designers to make themselves at home in a jaw-dropping early 1900s mansion for the second-annual L’Appartamento by Artemest. On a warm Milan Design Week morning, Lauren Rottet showed the interaction between the ample sunlight and the golden glass bases of her tables in the living room, while VSHD Design’s Rania Hamed set up a conceptual dining room with space for both the original Baroque vibe and Adolf Loos’ anti-ornament sentiment on the menu.

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