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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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…

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

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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.

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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.

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

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…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)…

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

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

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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.

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