Highsnobiety

This article is part of Not In Milan, a multi-media festival of culture running alongside Milan Design Week.

Milan Design Week is back. The largest annual congregation of architects, designers – interior, fashion, industrial – artists, and students, is happening from April 15 to 21, along with Highsnobiety’s experimental design and activation series, Not in Milan. 

While Salone del Mobile Milano is the week’s main attraction, design installations in every form are scattered throughout the city (not to mention Highsnobiety’s pop-up at Sidewalk Kitchens, filled with merch). 

According to Samuel Ross, who unveiled an installation with Kohler, it’s “a moment where the world of design comes together to experience what’s new in the industry.” Ciarán McGuigan, the creative director of the New York- and Ireland-based Orior, noted, “It’s incredibly meaningful to see so many designers, architects and creatives come together in Milan. The amount of inspiration and creativity that can be cultivated is intoxicating.” 

There’s something for everyone this week, from toiletheads to gamers to anyone interested in knowing what’s new and next in the worlds of furniture, home decor, art, fashion, and technology. Come for the personal narratives told through design, nineties throwbacks, sleek silver, and beautiful marble, stay for a nightcap at Bar Basso.

SR_A x Kohler Terminal 2 

Palazzo del Senato

Kohler Co.

Samuel Ross is no stranger to industrial design, with a practice that spans fashion, furniture, and now toilets. After collaborations with Nike, Apple, and Timberland, the British designer and Virgil Abloh protégé partnered with Wisconsin-based manufacturing company Kohler to create a massive, Brutalist-inspired maze of concrete boulders and orange pipes that’s giving Nickelodeon  at Palazzo del Senato. Visitors can follow the water flowing through the industrial pipes in the middle of the site’s grand Baroque courtyard until they reach Ross’s orange Kohler toilet, an angular form that brings a bit of edge to any bathroom. “The design of Formation 02 draws inspiration from the velocity and power of water in nature and presents a departure in the design language of the bathroom space,” said Ross.  

Balenciaga Art in Stores

Balenciaga, Via Montenapoleone, 23

ANDREW J GREENE / Balenciaga

Balenciaga teamed up with American artist Andrew J. Greene for the latest edition of its Art in Stores project. Following in the footsteps of Dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s subversive Readymades, Greene’s Timeless Symbols series places ordinary, everyday objects on top of stainless-steel stanchions. A hidden motor slowly spins each piece in a nod to typical retail displays. The items exhibited include a silver, handheld mirror, a shrimp cocktail, and a red rose, along with Balenciaga’s trompe-l’œil products: the reusable Coffee Cup that debuted last fall in Los Angeles, the shoe-shaped Knife Clutch, and two of the French fashion house’s Chips Bags. 

Design Ancora by Gucci

Gucci, Via Montenapoleone, 7 

GUCCI Design Ancora

Gucci creative director Sabato De Sarno was inspired to make Ancora red, Gucci’s signature color, when he discovered the rich oxblood tone in the lining of an original Jackie bag. For Milan Design Week, he’s pushing the color further with Design Ancora, an exhibition designed by Spanish architect Guillermo Santomà and co-curated by Michela Pelizzari, founder of Milan-based creative agency P:S. The exhibition reimagines five pillars of Italian design in Ancora red: the Storet drawers by Nanda Vigo for Acerbis, a reinterpreted version of the Clessidra rug by Nicolò Castellini Baldissera, who updated his grandfather Piero Portaluppi’s original design, the Parola table lamp by Gae Aulenti and Piero Castiglioni for FontanaArte, the Le Mura sofa by Mario Bellini for Tacchini, and the Opachi vase by Tobia Scarpa for Venini. “The aura emanating from the brand spotlights five pieces by Italian masters that are perfect from a design standpoint but less known to the general public,” said Pelizzari.   

1st by Ikea

Padiglione Visconti, via Tortona 58

Ikea

Do you remember when you moved into your first home as an adult? Ikea wants you to relive the moment with 1st, an exhibition “exploring the emotional side of making your monumental move to your first home.” The Swedish furniture megabrand unveiled BRÄNBOLL, a new collection made specifically for gamers, and the fifth drop of the Nytillverkad line, which reimagines IKEA designer Noboru Nakamura’s 1980 KLIPPAN sofa and the 1977 POÄNG armchair in bold primary colors. Ikea also partnered with Dazed Studio for CATALOGUE!!!, a limited edition magazine featuring four covers and pull out posters. 

The Fearn Collection by Orior

Bocci Milan, Via Lorenzo Mascheroni 2

Orior

Plant daddies, rejoice! Ireland- and New York-based design studio Orior — if you don’t know them, you should — makes its first outing at Milan Design Week with a collection of marble and stone planters that mimic celtic waystones, which are traditionally placed at the threshold of a home to identify it and welcome visitors. The three planters use marble named after their cities of origin:  — Lecarrow, Armaghand, and Kilkenny. “We returned to our Irish heritage for inspiration, and these pieces imitate the waystone configurations of the Celts,” said Ciarán McGuigan, the brand’s creative director. Intended to be used both outdoors and indoors, The Fearn Collection takes its name from the third letter of the Ogham alphabet, used in early written Irish. 

Alcova Milano

Villa Borsani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi

Giulio Ghirardi

If Salone del Mobile Milano is Design Week’s biggest fair, then Alcova Milana is its cooler younger sister. Alcova Milano marked its 7th edition by situating itself within two architectural icons of the city, Villa Borani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi. Expect to see over 70 independent designers, innovative brands, galleries, and cultural institutions, like Agglomerati, whose London-based founder Samuel Henly tapped designer Tino Seubert for a collection of stone tables, and Japanese architect Junya Ishhigami’s delicate wire chairs for Maniera. Don’t forget to check out the Lucio Fontana fireplace at Villa Borsani. 

Capsule Plaza

Spazio Maiocchi, via A. Maiocchi 3–5–7

POLTRONOVA feat. Harry Nuriev

For the cool kids and sneakerhead set, there’s Capsule Plaza, featuring brands and design firms like Ecco Leather, Rimowa, and Herzog & de Meuron. Harry Nuriev, the transformist architect, designer, and artist behind Crosby Studios, created Unpacked, a collection of couches, side tables, and ottomans covered with packing tape and biodegradable farming film for Poltronova. Nike unveiled the Alphafly 3 with Alaska Alaska, Virgil Abloh’s research-based design and creative service. Graffiti legend FUTURA2000 is presenting his Futura Akari lighting pieces powered by GOAT. 

Loewe Lamps

Palazzo Citterio

Courtesy Loewe

Function meets form at Loewe Lamps, where the Spanish fashion house commissioned 24 artists, including Ann Van Hoey, Enrico David, Takura Kawata, and Jennifer Lee. Alvaro Burrington looked to his youth, specifically New York streetscapes and  doorways, to create a standing light shaped like a storefront adorned with metal shutters and a pull cord featuring Loewe’s signature gold donut chain. South African artist Zizipho Powsa drew from Xhosa rituals and her memories of the Eastern Cape province where she grew up  to create a standing lamp of ceramic, glass, and bronze shaped like a vessel holding up a bowl of illuminated orbs.   

Thom Browne by Frette

Palazzina Appiani

Thom Browne

Thom Browne showcased his subversive yet sophisticated Frette collection of bathrobes and linens in a performance at the Palazzina Appiani, a French-built arena hall. Titled …time to sleep…, the April 16th performance — an expansion of the designer’s oeuvre that lands at the intersection of art, fashion design, and storytelling — featured models in Thom Browne by Frette bathrobes parading around a row of midcentury cots covered in his gray Frette bedding collaboration, complete with his signature four-striped motif.

Bottega Veneta and Fondation Le Corbusier for Cassina

Palazzo San Fedele

Le Corbusier designed the LC14 Tabouret Cabanon stool, a simple wood box, for his own 12 foot by 12 foot cabin (cabanon in French) on the Côte d’Azur. Following Mathieu Blazy who commissioned the late Gaetano Pesce to design seats, the Bottega Veneta creative director Matthieu Blazy asked Fondation Le Corbusier to create custom editions covered in leatherwork made with Bottega Veneta’s Intreccio foulard technique. The hand-woven leather from the house’s artisanal atelier in Montebello is covered in special brushwork technique using a layer of colored paint, then black, which is removed to achieve a special effect. 60 leather editions and 100 wooden editions will be available for sale.

Prada Frames

Bagatti Valsecchi Museum

Getty Images for Prada / Lorenzo Palizzolo

Prada Frames, the multidisciplinary symposium held in conjunction with Salone del Mobile Milano, returned for a third year for a three-day program that ended on April 16. This year’s program  was curated by the design and research studio Formafantasma, and invited speakers like Paola Antonelli, Alice Rawsthorn, and Isabella Rossellini to discuss the relationship between the natural environment and design. 

Bedroom and In the Ether by Rooms Studio

Bedrooms, SIAM via Santa Marta 18

In the Ether, Lanvin Boutique, Via Pietro Verri 8

LEVAN MAISURADZE

Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia’s Tbilisi-based Rooms Studio returned to Milan Design Week with two presentations: In the Ether at Lanvin until April 20 and Bedroom by Rooms Studio. “The idea of working on a bed collection was born out of a fundamental need for a new bed design — a challenge we often encounter when working on our interior design projects,” said the duo, who made six beds the centerpieces of six distinct interiors “Beds are not just functional pieces of furniture; they embody comfort, intimacy, and personal expression within the home.” Each creation is distinct, from a silver platform atop four silver tubes, and a sleek, streamlined silver bed frame accentuated with four slim posts. The pair also worked with Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili to create a feminine, flower-shaped lamp for Frank Elbaz Gallery, which uses glass in Lanvin Blue as an homage to the legacy house’s founder, Jeanne Lanvin.

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