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Curated by Stefano Boeri, the show featured much less commotion but allowed for a lot more intimate appreciation of the quality of design being displayed, almost gallery-like, in its four halls. In the city, the mood was equally vibrant; there were even lineups outside some of the buzziest events and showrooms. And although a few major players of years past were conspicuously absent, other showstoppers stepped in.

Molteni & C took advantage of Supersalone’s linear design to present an airplane-inspired installation of classic Gio Ponti chairs, complete with attention-grabbing boarding announcements.


Also at Supersalone, a small piece of Canada made its way overseas – the latest collection by the Fogo Island Workshops shows how purity in lines and materiality always stands out.


A punchier aesthetic, the Venus Power Collection by Patricia Urquiola for CC-Tapis had a delightfully cartoonish feel.


Horm’s eye-popping Mass Pressure seat by Studio Dror resembled blocky concrete but was actually made of squishy foam.


Cappellini announced a new star on the scene, showing off Elena Salmistraro’s wonderfully weird textile creations.


Flos celebrated 50 years of Parantesi, Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzù’s masterpiece, with an installation deserving of its genius and whimsy.


At her now-regular Guiltless Plastic show, Rossana Orlandi curated designs both rustic and seemingly slapdash, like this bench by Design Differente…


…and highly engineered. Like this obsolescence-proof turntable by Bang & Olufsen.


La Rinascente, the legendary department store across from the Duomo, always turns its windows over to designers for the Milan fair. This time, Driade showcased Fabio Novembre’s Love line.


At Palazzo Durini, Edra’s vibrant, over-the-top furnishings contrasted vividly against the ornate backdrop. Here, a trepidatious visitor is invited to stand atop Jacopo Foggini’s lounge chair from the polycarbonate-and-glass A’Amare series.


Moroso’s showroom is always a delight to visit during Milan design week. Especially when Patrizia Moroso herself is around to tell you about the latest collections.


The Interni show on the grounds of the university was just as exuberant as ever, even if it wasn’t teeming with the same kind of crowds.


Masterly: The Dutch in Milano filled Palazzo Turati with marvels by the Netherlands’ brightest lights, including Nynke Koster, who created these marbled rubber stools in the shape of architectural features.


Another perfectly ironic piece: Studio 212 Fahrenheit’s iPhone-inspired lights.


Poetic and ethereal, Bibi Smit’s Clouds were a showstopper. The amorphous glass vessels are matte-smooth and white on the outside and glossy, multi-hued on the inside.


Lizan Freijsen’s rugs had pride of place in the palazzo.


If Milan 2021 didn’t boast as many blockbuster shows as previous years, Alcova went a long way towards sating visitors’ hunger for ensemble casts. It started with this wonderful installation…


…which was a way of introducing colourful mesh screens by Takeo that could also double as virus-control barriers.


Inside the sprawling manses, formerly nuns’ quarters, a variety of exhibitors displayed their works. The vaunted gallery Nilufar reprised its Brassless group show of 2020, showing the Daydream line by Objects of Common Interest, amongst other collectible series.


New York lighting designer Lindsey Adelman had a very significant presence at Alcova – or perhaps she made the strongest impression, with a room filled with her fantastic glass orbs.


Back in the city centre, design could be glimpsed everywhere – in a courtyard filled with Philippe Starck’s Serengeti line for Janus et Cie…


…in Ginori 1735’s boutique, filled with Luca Nichetto’s new line of home fragrances inspired by Caterina de’ Medici (and her coterie of friends)…


…at Artemide’s showroom, where luminous works by Bjarke Ingels, Ernesto Gismondi, Elemental and more pushed light technology to the next level…


…and at Foscarini, where more romantic notions of lighting prevailed, as in Marc Sadler’s Nuée fixture, made with a 3D textile conjuring clouds.


Finally, at Poltrona Frau, one of the many places where Milan’s courtyards were used to spectacular effect, an inaugural outdoor line felt as serene as could be.