Another Milan Design Week has come and gone! With an average of 18’000 steps, 10’000 impressions and 100’000 people per day, I am delighted to share the highlights and my personal favourites of the one and only Milan Design Week 2017 with you.

The first «Salone del Mobile» took place in 1961, which is how it all started. In later years «Euroluce» (lighting), «Workplace» (office design),  «Salone del Bagno» (bathroom design), «Eurocucina» (kitchen design) and «Salone Satellite» (young designers and design students) were added. During this year’s 56th edition of «iSaloni», there was also «Euroluce» and «Workplace 3.0», which alternate with the bathroom and kitchen exhibition. Another record year with more than 343’602 visitors from 165 countries and 2000 exhibitors spread across over 200’000 m2 exhibition space. However, the exhibition is just the beginning, because with the «Fuorisalone» (literally: outside of the fair) growing and spreading across the city of Milan year after year, there are endless design exhibitions, installations and events to be explored. This is why, over the years, I have developed my own strategy how to make the best of «Milan Design Week» (Tuesday – Sunday), maximise my time, see what matters the most (to me and my business) and avoid complete overwhelm.

The first two days I usually head to the exhibition grounds at «Fiera Rho», where I spend one day at the «Salone del Mobile» (furniture) in the main design pavilions and one day at «Euroluce» or «Salone del Bagno» and «Eurocucina», depending on the year. The remaining days I explore the «Fuorisalone», one neighbourhood a day.

Colourful furniture heavily influenced by mid-century design

Salone del Mobile

The only ‘new’ trends I could detect this year were velvet, the colour forest green and marble. I had already noticed a revival of marble during my visit in 2015, however, this year marble was everywhere in every shape and form. The most popular marble is the white marble, but I have also come across shades of pink, orange, green and black.

A variety of pieces in white marble and neutral velvet

Generally, I got the impression that much like in fashion ‘anything goes’ at the moment. There is no definite style to follow, like we would have seen in past centuries or even decades. Mid-century and vintage styles continue to have an impact on furniture design. The most popular colours appear to be forest green and nudes, but I’ve found a wide range of colours from neutrals and pastels to primary and secondary colours, all the way to bright bold colours.

Ethnic influences from around the globe with lots of patterns and shapes have a great influence on fabrics, wallpaper and accessories as well. Some brands are investing in innovative sustainable and recyclable materials, but on a whole there is simply a vast variety of styles, colours and trends out there at the moment. Having lots of choice is great news if you know what you like and what you are looking for, but of course can also be a challenge for those who struggle to decide on a style.

Sculptural and ambiance lighting including Tom Rossau

Euroluce

«Euroluce» is always one of my personal favourites and probably the most innovative sector in the interior design industry at the moment. As LED technology advances, more and more shapes and possibilities appear on the market. What I observed this year was a great variety of architectural and sculptural lighting as well as many clusters of lights. The latter can be multiple pendants of the same size and shape, but also multiple pendants of various sizes, shapes and materials, as long as they have one common trait (i.e. material, colour or size).

Sculptural and architectural lighting including «Conversas» by Arturo Alvarez

Lighting resembling works of art with the added benefit of bringing light to the environment and creating ambiance. We all know that without light there is no design. You can invest in the most expensive and most stylish furniture, but if you don’t have proper lighting to support it, it will loose its effect. Lighting has long gone beyond its functionality. It has become an integral part of interior design and many lights are a design object in their own right.

Fuorisalone

The «Fuorisalone» originally started in an area called «Brera», which is centrally located near the «Duomo», where all the high end fashion and designer shops are located. Over the years the «Fuorisalone» has spread across the entire city and each area has its own character and style. Below I will give you a glimpse into the areas I explored this year, but you may also wish to check out my video from Milan Design Week 2015, where you can explore the different areas of the city with me.

Zona Brera

In Brera you will find many flagship stores of high end Italian furniture, lighting, bathroom and kitchen design. During the «Fuorisalone» they organise events, some of which are by invitation only, but many are open to the public as well. It’s a chic affair and you will come across the high society of Milan, tourists, design professionals and design enthusiasts alike. If you can only visit one area, I recommend this one or «Zona Tortona».

Impressions of Zona Tortona and Brera including the exhibition by Moooi

Zona Tortona

This part of town consists of two main streets (via Tortona and via Savona) lined with industrial warehouses, where you will find anything from large scale exhibitions and installations to small design markets selling and showcasing anything from jewellery to high end furniture and lighting design. This area is also very popular with locals and it is simply a great day out for anyone with the slightest interest in design.

Università degli Studi

Milan has one of the largest universities in Europe. The buildings are spread across the city, but one of the main university buildings is the monumental complex dating back to the 15th century located in the heart of the city centre. The historical building and the Roman excavations within the cloister create a spectacular backdrop for large scale design exhibitions.

Impressions from the Università degli Studi and Triennale di Milano

Triennale di Milano

The design museum, which is located on the edge of the largest park in Milan, the «Parco Sempione» holds special exhibitions during the «Fuorisalone» and is often times host to other countries and their design. Due to its location within the parks premises it offers a more relaxed ambiance and you can sit in the museum’s garden for a bit of a breather. They also organise great parties in their gardens during «Milan Design Week», which are definitely worth a visit.

There are a few more locations, such as «Zona Lambrate» (I didn’t make it there this year), an up and coming neighbourhood in Northeastern Milan right next to the «Città di Studi» (literally: city of studies) which also forms part of the University of Milan.

Needless to say, there is plenty to explore and as long as you got good footwear and some stamina, you will have a fabulous time! I certainly always have a fantastic time and come home inspired and full of ideas ready to be implemented into my next projects!

See you in Milan in April 2018!

Simone xx

Posted by Simone Aïda Baur: I’m a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-passionate award winning international interior designer, award winning blogger and ex-hotelier. I have turned my life upside down more than once. Feel free to learn more about my story and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

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