CIAO Bellas! Last month I joined the rest of the design community in the annual pilgrimage to Milan for a celebration and prayer to the design trend gods; Milan Design Week 2018. From Hermes to HAY and Wallpaper* to Toiletpaper, brands and designers worked together to create atmospheric installations, experiences and visual delights around Milan. It was my first visit to Milan/ MDW so I went with an open mind, not really knowing what to expect… other than inspiration, of course!
The past month has been a busy one for me, but now that I’ve had a bit of time to process what I saw I wanted to share it with you because what happens in Milan, will be big in the rest of the world in the next couple of years – it’s where the trends are born!
P.S. I’m also going to be writing a post with my tips on making the most of Milan Design Week, so if you’re considering heading to Milan in 2019 keep an eye out for that!
After a short flight from LDN Gatwick to MLN Linate, we checked into our airbnb (and I spent a lil while admiring our gorgeous kitchen floor) before heading out into Milan – there’s no rest for the wicked! We had been aiming to make it in time for the press preview of Surface Magazine’s The Diner but we missed it by about 10 mins and made a mental note to come back at some point through out the week. It wasn’t a wasted journey anyway as there were a number of exhibits in the neighbouring arches on the road including a pretty selfie-friendly pink mirrored number from Baars & Bloemhoff.
Couldn’t resist snapping these 3 bikes in a row – so Italian! I also wanted to snap this graffiti covered power box as it was one of the few examples of street art that I came across in Milan – this was kinda weird as a Londoner who is regularly surrounded by street art.
An early start (6am!) as we headed to the Lexus Instameet at Milan’s National Museum of Science & Technology – a pretty fitting location if you ask me. Lexus kindly gifted us an iphone lens kit to test out & shoot the installation. Co-Existence tested all of our senses with sound (of the LF-1 Limitless car), light (an art installation by Sota Ichikawa) and a taste experience (by ALTATTO). They also introduced us to the Lexus Design Award which is supporting young designers with innovative ideas.
We hopped on the metro to our next stop: the Wallpaper* Handmade showcase. There was so much to see – my faves included the branding brilliance of the Wallpaper* store, the grid-tastic Toiletpaper bar and the palm vibes from Marc Ange’s ‘Le Roi’ installation.
I caught Emma horsing around on the grass for a moment and couldn’t help but snap her a-neigh-zing suit… this was only the beginning of the excitement about patterns! One of my favourite things about travelling is being inspired by alien surroundings – it could be something as mundane as a water pipe or the architecture/signage/interiors of the metro stations, which I totally loved btw. On the way to Salone del mobile we kept passing these amazing green and blue op-art inspired adverts for Interni – they seemed to match the station decor too!
I didn’t take too many photos inside Salone as I think I was quite overwhelmed, but the stand outs for me were Seletti x Toiletpaper (whose ‘more is more’ vibe is right up my street) and Montana (whose pink & red stand was beautiful)!
After taking in as much Salone as we could manage, we headed back to the Centrale Station arches to check out The Diner… but it was closed for a private event and they told us to come back tomorrow. Sigh. At this point I started to wonder if maybe we just weren’t supposed to see The Diner!
Luckily to life our spirits there was the Stuck On Design by Haru exhibition just an arch or two down the road. So much colour! Definitely one of my favourite exhibits, showcasing a product in a creative but natural habitat – it’s like a washi tape for walls.
You know what they say… third time lucky. We FINALLY made it into The Diner on day three! The space was inspired by American diner culture, serving burgers and shakes, but with a twist. At one end I was getting futuristic vibes (with a cool colour palette, neon lighting and a silver shimmery curtain) and at the other, retro vibes (with warm tones, plants, patterns and an amazing fringe tassel curtain) – it was quite interesting.
Whilst I’m on the topic of that great fringe curtain, I should also mention that it wasn’t JUST a curtain, but it had a cool digitally projected pattern too. The patterned curtain love continued when we found Laura Bethan Wood’s collaboration with Moroso – plenty of colours too!
Other impressive examples of patterns included the chalk floor art from Hermes for Hermes In The City. I can’t tell you how much I loved stumbling across this in action after being starved of street art for most of the trip. Apparently street art isn’t really a thing in Milan?
We saw moving chairs at Vitra, moving lights at Missoni and then we moved on to the COS x Philip K Smith III party, where the insta famous mirror installation was waiting for us. A few Aperol Spritz down and we figured out that the optimum place to stand for the food waiters to reach us was the toilet queue… ha
With the party coming to a close, it was time for the ‘Bar Basso experience’. Bar Basso is a famous bar in Milan – the birthplace of the Negroni Sbagliato (in 1972) and nowadays it’s the place to be at 1am during Milan Design Week! If you haven’t watched my Milan Design Week vlog, you can get an idea of how crazy busy it was at 15.18 – eeek!
Oh blimey, it was pretty hard to wake up on day 4 – so hard in fact that we didn’t head out of the airbnb until 2pm, oops! But with it being our last full day in Milan and the highly anticipated Hermes installation, we found some strength to power through…
As expected, the Hermes installation was beautiful and I loved the concept of the different coloured rooms leading from one to another and being able to look through the rooms and pick up on different colours through doorways. But it was a photographical nightmare to be honest – I had a bit of a stand off with a woman who kept getting in all my shots. I waited patiently for people to do their thing and move on, and just when I had it lined up with no people in frame, she tries to get me to move so she could get her shot. Pffft!
Anyway, I finally started to stumble more street art…
… and Milan lived up to it’s Gelato reputation – I tried coconut & pineapple and it was stunning! Speaking of, d’ya know what else was stunning? The HAY Palazzo. It was such a contrast to the modern, minimal, scandi HAY vibes but the perfect Italian backdrop. I actually gasped as I entered the room below – it was so beautiful!
And even amongst HAY’s signature muted tones I still managed to find a pop of colour – pink & green is a colour dream team after all!
Continuing with the pop of colour, we stumbled across an exhibition by the Envisions collective – Wood in Progress. It was a room full of experiments with woodgrain patterns and colouring and it was so interesting! I never want to see a boring sheet of chipboard ever again.
To finish our Milan trip, we partied the night away (ok, until 10.30 because we needed to pack our suitcases before bed!) with Caeserstone x Snarkitecture and their cool architectural installation which had been a hit on Instagram… but was a bit scary a couple of drinks down.
If you loved the sound of all that then check out my vlog for more:
We managed to fit a fair bit into our week, eh? On the flight home I was very tired but very inspired – can’t wait to see these trends out in the real world soon! Anyone tempted by the idea of heading to Milan Design Week 2019?