The Milan Design Week, the world's most extraordinary design event, has seen its 2016 edition shining much brighter than previous ones thanks to great additions from the art and architecture scene. If the 1,100 design events scheduled across town and the 2,400 exhibitors at the Salone del Mobile weren't enough, there are now some thrilling art spaces, beautiful exhibitions and iconic buildings to visit.
The Milan Design Week is important in many ways. In an ever-increasing digital world where virtual experiences are replacing physical ones, it serves to remind us why it is essential to keep the latter. Physical experiences, like beauty, have the power to be regenerative. Beauty touches us deeply and because it is a real experience, we can trust it, and through trust, we open up and allow our most interesting aspects to emerge. If we are serious about changing the world into a better place, beauty is key. And Milan its best laboratory.
If I were to pick the most beautiful display during the Milan Design Week, this ought to be Anselm Kiefer's permanent installation at the Pirelli HangarBicocca, a former train factory turned art center in 2004. Kiefer's Seven Heavenly Palaces is a site-specific installation of concrete towers in a huge black-painted hangar and it aims to explore architecture and the divine. Equally impressive is Carsten Höller's temporary exhibition Doubt (picture above).
|The Seven Heavenly Palaces (2004-15), Anselm Kiefer | Pirelli HangarBicocca|
Interesting to explore were also the Fondazione Prada by Rem Koolhaas and the Nilufar Depot, an outpost of Nina Yashar's Nilufar gallery in central Milan.
Villa Necchi Campiglio, the setting chosen by Austria Design to host their show, has been a wonderful discovery. Set in a lush garden with swimming pool and a tennis court in central Milan, this beautiful 1935 villa is apparently used for the very first time in a Design Week.
|Villa Necchi Campiglio|
Other delightful shows around town include the lighting of the Torre Velasca by Ingo Maurer and the silos at the Viabizzuno showroom in via Solferino.
|Glow, Velasca Glow! by Ingo Maurer | Photo by Saverio Lombardi or Tom Vack|
|Solis Silos by Mario Nanni | Viabizzuno showroom|
|Inside a silo | Viabizzuno showroom|
The Salone del Mobile furniture fair, now in its 55th edition, had some interesting product launches. Vitra presented two new products by Jasper Morrison: the Soft Modular Sofa, whose various foams help the cushions return to the original form after use, and the All Plastic Chair. Maruni Wood Industry also launched a new chair by Jasper Morrison made with maple wood and coloured steel. Beautiful the extra-thin, ultra-long (up to 4 meters) Tense Material table by MDF Italia and the Run table and bench by Emeco. The table comes in different lengths and heights and is suitable for use both indoor and outdoors.
The Nicest Stand Award would have to keep falling to Kartell.
|Soft Modular Sofa (2016) by Jasper Morrison | Vitra|
|T-chair (2016) by Jasper Morrison | Maruni Wood Industry|
|All Plastic Chair (2016) by Jasper Morrison for Vitra (left) | Dream'Air Chair (2015) by Eugeni Quitllet for Kartell|
|Tense Material Table (2016) by Piergiorgio Cazzaniga | MDF Italia|
|Run Table (2016) Sam Hecht & Kim Colin | Emeco|
There were some extraordinary lightings in the showrooms around town like the ball light pendants by Michael Anastassiades for Herman Miller or his IC Lamp at the DePadova showroom. The Artemide and Danese new lighting collection was also impressive, with Mercedes Benz and BIG architects among the designers.
|The Double Dream of Spring by Michael Anastassiades at Herman Miller | Photo by Ben Anders|
|IC Lamp (2013) by Michael Anastassiades for Floss | DePadova showroom|
|Bespoke fitting for a spa at Viabizzuno showroom|
|Artemide and Danese showroom|
More Fuori Salone events at the Brera district:
|Ron Arad exhibition at Moroso|
|Iperbolica Wood Armchair (2016) by Alessandro Ciffo for Dilmos|
|Care (2016) by Mario Trimarchi for VitrA|
|Moment (2016) by Sertan Özbudun for VitrA|
|Pipe tap by Marcel Wanders for Boffi|
|Taps by Fantini | Salvatori showroom|
Lastly, the Salone Satellite, the part of the furniture fair dedicated to young emerging designers. This year's edition run under the theme "New Materials, New Designs" and there were some interesting presentations on April 14th by representatives of Europe's leading material research hubs such as the Material Design Lab in Copenhagen, Materfad Barcelona, Het Nieuwe Institute in Rotterdam, Materio Prag and Materialscout in Munich. Prof. Carole Collet from Central Saint Martins held a great talk about the intersection of biology and design (biomimicry) and about materials that don't exist yet (synthetic biology). Prof. Collet discussed Biolace, a project for growing food and fabrics that was part of the 2013
‘Alive, New Design Frontiers’ exhibition in Paris.
The designs at the Salone Satellite are mostly prototypes. The purpose of the Salone Satellite is to help the designers to launch on the market. If you are a manufacturer, feel free to contact the designers.
|Warm Stool (ceramic and wood) by Bouillon|
|The Crane Lamp, expandable walnut, concrete and brass desk lamp by Animaro|
|Biolace, future bio-synthetics by Prof. Carole Collet|
|Mangle, a mangrove-inspired tree pot for urban landscapes by Bright Potato|
|The Heartbeat Table by SHKinetic|
|The Fondue Light, a light source that raises and lowers to change intensity by Satsuki Ohata|
|Earthbulb, atmospheric LED bulbs for underground spaces by Void Setup|
|Foldis, a lunch box that can be adjusted to different sizes by Alexey Donka|
55th Salone del Mobile, Milan 12 -17 April 2016 | #SaloneDelMobile
19th Salone Satellite, Milan 12 -17 April 2016 | #SaloneSatellite
Milano Design Week, 12-17 April 2016 | #FuoriSalone2016 #MDW16 #MDW2016
Fuori Salone: Brera Design District 2016 | #BreraDesignDistrict
Fuori Salone: Tortona Design Week | #TortonaDesignWeek
Pictures by PS (unless otherwise stated) and most Salone Satellite photos by the designers.