The Salone del Mobile, the world’s most important furniture show, opens April 14. Beyond the fair, the city itself becomes one giant design extravaganza during Milan Design Week. Here are nine awe-inspiring off-site events on our to-do list.
1 Moooi‘s Unexpected Welcome
Milan Design Week regulars have come to expect Moooi to blow their minds with a 1,700-square-metre installation held inside via Savona 56. For two years running, the Dutch furniture company has presented elaborate exhibitions that theatrically mix home environments framed by outstanding photographic backdrops. Rahi Rezvani’s mesmerizing portraits will adorn the space this year. “When Marcel Wanders came to visit me at my studio,” says Rezvani about his collaboration with Moooi’s creative director, “I recognized a creative soul who lets imagination lead him to something really original and dense with emotion.”
Product-wise, Moooi will be showcasing a new line of carpets, and the Statistocrat lamp by Atelier Van Lieshout. Also on view are new pieces by Bas Kosters, Bertjan Pot, Broersen en Lukacs, Christian Lacroix, Front and Jurgen Bey. Wanders himself is presenting a giant rocking unicorn, Arion, made of solid wood and adorned with white embroidered leather. On view at via Savona 56, April 13 to 19.
2 Designjunction edit Milan
This year, Designjunction edit Milan takes over three floors of Casa dell’Opera Nazionale Balilla, a former school building and theatre originally built in the 1930s. Some 40 brands, mostly British, are expected to fill the space with pop-ups, installations and booths, by the likes of Tom Dixon, Case Furniture, Beyond Object, Form Us With Love and Modus. The five-day event is one of dozens to be found in the San Babila Design Quarter, a vibrant new destination with over 30 furniture and fashion showrooms, all within walking distance of each other. Via Pietro Mascagni, April 15 to 19.
3 Ventura Lambrate
Curated by Dutch agency Organisation in Design, Ventura Lambrate is a sprawling event, with some 176 exhibitions filling warehouse after warehouse with projects and prototypes by mostly young designers, many of whom are still students attending various design academies from across Europe. At least half a day is needed to meander through the spaces, which range from urban food farms to wifi hotspots to exhibits orchestrated by such luminaries as trend forecaster Li Edelkoort. Events are located in the Lambrate district, in the northeast part of Milan, April 14 to 19.
4 Housewarming, presented by Airbnb and Fabrica
One of the great treats during Milan Design Week is visiting exhibits hosted within some of the most elegant private palaces in the city. “Housewarming,” an experiential installation on view at Palazzo Crespi – open to the public for the first time – brings together 19 designers invited to interpret the concept of welcoming guests. The idea is for visitors to leave with a sense of belonging to this Milanese home. Highlights include Giorgia Zanellato’s Italian paper trays and Australian Thomas Fethers’ series of jigsaw puzzles that creatively communicate tips and tricks for traveling to his homeland down under. Corso Venezia 20, April 14 to 17.
5 Nendo works 2014-2015
The prolific Japanese studio, headed up by Oki Sato, never fails to find new ways of interpreting familiar things, from a box of chocolates to a Camper store on the Spanish island of Mallorca. On view at Museo della Permanente is “nendo works 2014-2015,” an exhibition showcasing one year in the life of the Tokyo studio, with a display that features 100 new pieces produced over the past 12 months and in collaboration with Glas Italia, Alias, Brix, Cappellini, Driade, Häagen-Dazs and Thonet, among others. Via Turati 34, April 14 to 19.
6 Re-inventing Shoes, presented by United Nude and 3D Systems
Last year, shoe company United Nude used an instore CubePro 3D printer to create Coral Shoe, a computer-printed extreme wedge designed by founder Rem D. Koolhaas (nephew of the other Koolhaas). Coral is one of a collection of printed shoes created in recent years with such leading architects and designers as Zaha Hadid, Ben van Berkel, Fernando Romero and Ross Lovegrove. These little-buildings-you-can-wear are part of “Re-inventing Shoes,” an exhibition of recent novel footwear by UN. Teatro Arsenale, via C. Correnti 11, April 14 to 19.
7 Spheres. Perspectives in Precision & Poetry for BMW designed by Alfredo Häberli
Teaming up with BMW Design to reimagine the car as a multi-layered interpretation of the BMW Design leitmotif “Precision and Poetry,” Zurich designer Alfredo Häberli created one of the most imaginative forms that might actually hit the road one day. The designer deliberately abstracted the car into an entirely new kind of object – wildly organic in shape and material, it looks nothing like the automobile as we know it today. Technically, though, everything about his expressive freeform is feasible. On view at Via Amatore Sciesa 3, April 14 to 19.
8 The Rational and Emotional Worlds, presented Hi-Macs and Marcel Wanders
Anything involving Marcel Wanders is sure to involve high drama. This year, the Dutch designer has collaborated with LG Hausys, the inventor of Hi-Macs solid surfacing, which becomes a work of art in Wanders’ hands. There will be two contrasting spaces to the exhibit: a “rational zone” that is functional and visually clean; and an “emotional zone” that will be more mysterious, poetic, and entirely covered in the Wanders’ Blooming Universe pattern. A shimmering medallion fills the centre of the space. Superstudio Più, Temporary Museum for New Design, April 14 to 19.
9 Front Studio, part of The Garden of Wonders: A Journey Through Scents
Two weeks after Salone del Mobile closes, Milan will welcome the world to Expo 2015, a global event dedicated to the theme of food and agricultural sustainability. One show that overlaps both, “The Garden of Wonders: A Journey Through Scents” explores design and the artistry of perfume. Held at Be Open Foundation, the exhibit brings to light the world of fragrances, especially historic brands that have disappeared.
Swedish design studio Front was inspired by Guyla, a defunct French brand of the 1920s, and its champagne flute–shaped bottle. The fragrance was suspended between the bottle’s double glass walls, while the surface was decorated with hand-painted floral patterns. Front reinterprets the vessel as a version that is lit from within, and fills an entire room with hundreds of them, their tiny lights evoking fireflies. Other sensorial explorations in the show are by Tord Boontje, Fernando & Humberto Campana, Dimorestudio, Jaime Hayon, Lissoni Associati and Jean-Marie Massaud. Orto Botanico, April 13 to May 24.