A review of venues and exhibitions at Milan Design Week 2024

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Milan Design Week
Amazing Walks by MAD at Milan Design Week

Milan Design Week is a dynamic and influential event in the global design calendar. It showcases innovation and fosters an environment where artists and designers from around the globe can connect and inspire each other while developing professionally. Starting from April 15th to 21st, Milan Design Week this year features a variety of exhibitions, installations, events, conferences, and discussions across the city. The event is usually significant for architects because it inspires cross-disciplinary conversations and covers many important topics in advancing architecture and design.

Below are some of the main venues and exhibitions at Milan Design Week 2024.

Rho Fiera – Salone Del Mobile

Milan Design Week
Salone del Mobile Milano Image © Delfino Sisto Legnani

Hosted annually in April at the Rho Fiera Trade Center in Milan, Italy, Salone Del Mobile promotes Italian furniture exports, drawing industry professionals to the Rho Fiera Exhibition Halls to experience the beauty of Italian design. In Milan Design Week 2024, the Salone Del Mobile also features EuroCucina, which focuses on kitchen and bathroom designs. Not only are the products fascinating, but the exhibitions’ design is well thought out for visitors to immerse in. The setup of EuroCucina is designed by Lombardini22 using ideas from neuroscience to enhance the visitor experience.

Additionally, filmmaker David Lynch took part by creating an installation of his own that allows people to connect with the environment. Finally, Italian designers like Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin also contributed to creating their own special areas like the Drafting Futures Arena and the Salone Library, which are a mix of practical displays and thought-provoking installations for people to enjoy.

Aside from the exhibitions and installations, Salone del Mobile features informative discussions and talks called “Drafting Futures. Conversations about Next Perspectives”, by Annalisa Rosso. Guest speakers are architects and designers who won the Pritzker Prize, like architect Francis Kere and John Pawson, and other authors and directors who were part of the talks.

Fuorisalone – Materia Natura

Milan Design Week
Fuorisalone – Materia Natura

Fuorisalone is held in Milan Design Week along with Salone del Mobile under the theme, “material natura,” which directly translates to “natural matter.” The phrase indicates the exhibition following the idea of sustainability as a core component in design. The exhibitions and installations scattered around symbolize the concept of circular economy, which is all about the reuse, recycling, and refurbishment of materials. Designers, architects, educational institutions, and organizations came together to influence the conversation on improving our present while shaping the future of our environment. Aligned with the Salone del Mobile, this Fuorisalone edition emphasizes the significance of incorporating natural elements into design methodologies to foster a sustainable tomorrow.

Brera Design District

Milan Design Week
Porsche’s The Art of Dreams exhibition at Milan Design Week

Brera Design Week is part of Milan Design Week, which has been going on for 15 years. It follows the same concept of Fuorisalone, which is Materia Natura, focusing on sustainability and the preservation of materials. As you go through Brera Design Week’s 260 events across the district, you will go on journey of sustainability in fashion, art, and lifestyle. It showcases material innovation and service design and allows visitors to enjoy the districts’ landscape and its events.

Isola Design Festival

Isola Design Week is another district involved in Milan’s 2024 design week with a theme called, “This Future is Currently Unavailable”. It includes installations and five exhibitions that focus on circular design, material innovation, and craft. The theme highlights the potential for sustainable and forward-thinking approaches in design, showcasing how current practices can be reimagined for a more eco-conscious and innovative future.

5VIE – Unlimited Design Orchestra

Indian Tiny Mega Store by Gunjan Gupta © Photo courtesy of 5Vie Design District

From its name, the event is inspired by music and the orchestra, where different instruments harmonize together; its aim and themes fall under human connection, cultural diversity, material sustainability, new technologies, and finally, it was important to highlight life’s most important values which are mutual love, respect, and tolerance through art. The exhibition was housed in one of Milan’s traditional locations, Palazzo Litta.

The art showcased was by artists like Gunjan Gupta, who designed an “Indian tiny mega-store” offering visitors a glimpse into India’s creativity and potential, shown through one-of-a-kind collectible items. People can immerse themselves into authentic Indian ambiance, complete with lively music, flavorful spices, vibrant colors, and aromatic scents.

The “Oasis of Peace” by Sara Riccardi is an art piece made of curved wooden-like branches that produce peaceful acoustic vibrations.

Another must-see exhibition is “Take and Eat” by Linda Pilar Zanolla, emphasizing how human connection is shared around a table. Unlimited Design Orchestra showcases art by designers and artists worldwide to celebrate humanity, love, and creativity.

Now, let’s delve into some cool artworks and installations throughout the event.

On the Rocks: Bottega Veneta, Cassina, & Fondation Le Corbusier

© Bottega Veneta

“On the Rocks” is an installation created through collaborative efforts from Bottega Veneta, Cassina, and Le Corbusier. The focus is on the furniture piece that Le Corbusier designed for himself and produced by Cassina, who is an expert in carpentry. The installation also showcases custom wooden editions of the Tabouret Cabanon, which were initially introduced during Bottega Veneta’s Winter ’24 fashion show.

Formation 02 and Terminal 02 by Samuel Ross for Kohle

© Kohler

A collaborative installation seen in Palazzo Del Senato, made of a network of interconnected industrial pipes that create a maze-like structure. In additional to terminal 02 is formation 02 which is a smart toilet designed by Kohler (a bathroom brand) who drew inspiration from “the power of water in nature”. It is meant for visitors to walk through this maze-like installation and follow the flow of water.

Gaetano Pesce: Nice to See You

© DesignApplause

An exhibition at 5VIE Design Week called Nice to See You celebrates the life and art of the design pioneer and Italian architect of his time, Gaetano Pesce. He has 50 years of renowned experience in architecture, interior design, urban planning, and industrial design. Pesce believed that modernism is more than a style in architecture; he explains that it is a way of approaching and creating art that appreciates the present with a hint of the future. To him, modernism celebrates individuality and flexibility rather than being restricted to a specific set of rules or aesthetics. In Milan Design Week, days after his passing, ‘Nice to See You’ was an exhibition dedicated to him featuring his unreleased artworks that encourage reflection and contemplation. An outdoor installation called ‘The Tired Man’ was also showcased in collaboration with Milan’s Municipality.

Time Traveler at Nilufar

© Courtesy of Shay Gil

Nilufar is a well-known gallery founded in 1979 by Nina Yashar and is a hub for historic and contemporary furniture and art. Her pieces vary from unique vintage furniture to contemporary pieces and other collectible objects, each telling a story. This year, she participated in Milan Design Week with an exhibition of her own called ‘Time Traveler, ‘ which allows visitors to time travel through the different designs and pieces, taking them on a historic yet contemporary journey of the evolution and uniqueness of design.

Amazing Walk by MAD

Milan Design Week

MAD founder Ma Yansong designed a 7.5-meter-tall pavilion in the Cortile della Farmacia courtyard of the University of Milan. The pavilion has no internal column and is shaped like a mountain.

The structure comprises hundreds of triangular units representing a mountain, reaching a height of 7.5 meters without columns. This design invites visitors to explore and imagine, and they have the opportunity to connect with both themselves and nature. The structure’s installation features a semi-reflective, transparent cover that provides visitors with a visual connection to the 100-year-old courtyard and gives them a sense of shelter. The exhibit is built using sustainable aluminum alloy and is covered with a composite membrane manufactured by Serge Ferrari. The WPC walkway and PVC outer material can be reused after the exhibition is over.

Dolce&Gabbana’s GEN D, VOL.2

Milan Design Week
© Divulgaçãoc via Vogue

The GEN D initiative by Dolce & Gabbana, standing for Generation Designers, was launched by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to highlight their forward-thinking approach and innovative spirit. Building on their expertise in contemporary and futuristic fashion design, they aim to extend this creativity to furniture, forming the core focus of this initiative.

The brand also focuses on using and appreciating young, talented artists, which is why their exhibition/show in Milan Design Week showcases 11 young talents under the age of 40 to connect and collaborate with Dolce&Gabbana and other skilled artisans from Italy. They create items using traditional techniques with a modern twist, blending the old and the new.

Milan Design Week
© Lasvit

In conclusion, the venues and exhibitions highlighted above represent just a fraction of the numerous events that unfolded during Milan Design Week 2024. These design weeks hold significant importance in the realms of architecture and design, serving as catalysts for transformative experiences. They foster connections, collaborations, and idea-sharing among young talents, paving the way for a brighter future. Emerging artists can build meaningful relationships with renowned designers globally through such events. Milan Design Week proved that the future of design is promising, characterized by boundless possibilities and a spirit free from constraints.

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