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1. Moritz Waldemeyer’s LED-embedded swords, at Spazio Rossana Orlandi

Curator Rossana Orlandi is a Milan treasure in her own right, and with her trademark white-frame glasses, she’s easily spotted mingling with visitors to Spazio Rossana Orlandi. The venue – housing a store, studios and an outdoor cafe – is open year round, but during Milan Design Week it is filled with designer pieces cherry picked by Orlandi herself. This year’s highlights include Haze, a series of brushed resin chairs and tables by Wonmin Park that appear as though made of smoke; and Moritz Waldemeyer’s The Path of the Sword, a captivating series of images that record the movement of an LED-embedded martial arts sword in motion. Waldemeyer’s exhibit also offers a glimpse of some of his previous collaborations with Zaha Hadid and Philippe Starck, among others. Spazio Rosanna Orlandi, via Matteo Bandello 14/16

2. Works by students of Piet Zwart Institute of Rotterdam, on view at Ventura Lambrate

Ventura Lambrate, a 135-exhibitor-strong event held within a former industrial district in the northeastern part of the city, has become an essential stop for taking stock of what young designers across the globe, many still students or exhibiting for the first time, are up to. Masters students from Piet Zwart Institute of Rotterdam, for instance, will showcase their retooling of familiar, low-tech gadgetry, all under the theme of Altered Appliances. Established & Sons and Kvadrat are also there to roll out their latest lines, and Danish Craft is hosting Mindcraft13, a curated exhibit of Danish textile, jewellery and furniture designers. For lunch, try Stampiet Kaas & Drop at via dei Canzi and via Gaetano Crespi, where creative chef Piet Bergman develops food projects in unsuitable spaces – “the more unsuitable, the better!” Open daily, 10am to 8pm. Ventura Lambrate is walking distance from the Lambrate metro station on the MM2 Green Line

3. Cristina de Middel’s The Afronauts, part of Afrofuture, on view at La Rinascente

Curated by Beatrice Galilee and Nana Ocran of London, the theatrical and playful Afrofuture event at La Rinascente, the department store near the Duomo, will showcase the Africa we don’t yet know, shedding light on its technological evolution and emerging design scene. The exhibits and viewer-participation programming will be fast and loose, with live performances. A pop-up media hub with an active news desk will explore the relationship between China and Africa, and Cristina de Middel will present The Afronauts, a half-fictionalized photo-documentary series and stage setting about a Zambian space travel initiative from the 1960s. Also of note: While at La Rinascente, visit the fourth floor, where Nendo has just refurnished the womenswear department. La Rinascente Milano Piazza Duomo, Design Supermarket main floor


4. Steak knives by John Pawson and KAI, for When Objects Work

Not all steak knives are created equal, and the knives on view at Paolo Curti Gallery in the Brera district combine age-old craftsmanship with John Pawson’s masterful minimalism. Every bit of patterning on the carving utensil’s organic blade is complementary to its ebony handle. The collection is a collaborative effort between the British architect, Japanese Samurai sword maker KAI, and When Objects Work, a Dutch manufacturer of exquisitely refined accessories by leading architects and designers. Seeing a little bit of Pawson’s work firsthand is always intriguing, since many of the minimalist buildings he is so revered for are either private houses, high-end fashion boutiques or monasteries – much harder to come by. Paolo Curti Gallery, via Pontaccio 19

5. Energetic Energies by Akihisa Hirata and Panasonic, part of Hybrid Architecture & Design at Università degli Studi di Milano

Each year, dozens of renowned architects and designers team up with leading material manufacturers to create pavilions and large-scale installations that fill the courtyards of Università degli Studi di Milano. Architects Steven Holl and Daniel Libeskind are on the roster of collaborators for this year’s display, entitled Hybrid Architecture & Design, though one of the more intriguing installations, Energetic Energies, comes from Panasonic and Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata, a co-winner of the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale last year. The project is described as an “enchanted city” where building rooftops will be covered in miniature solar panels that take the form of climbing ivy. The project is a demonstration of what could conceivably be applied to an entire city. Hybrid Architecture & Design, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Festa del Perdono

Check back for more of our best bets for Milan Design Week.

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