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All the things to love at the world’s biggest design fair—Milan Design Week 2019—by Isprava’s interior designers

MILAN, DESIGNED FOR you

Fashion, food, fairs… Milan never ceases to fascinate. Here’s everything you need to know on what to do, see, love and eat in Milan, during the world’s biggest design fair—Milan Design Week 2019, straight from the hearts and minds of two of Isprava’s interior designers

Euroluce lighting installation

Milan, Italy’s fashion, finance and design capital, much like New York or Paris has the zip, bounce and vibrancy of a great cosmopolitan city. It’s a destination that knows how to do everything in style. From fashion weeks and food festivals to sophisticated storefronts that line Via Monte Napoleone and Via della Spiga. There are designer hotels like the Bulgari and Armani and many cultural treasures too—we love the majestic Teatro alla Scala opera house, the Gothic cathedral and of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th century masterpiece, “The Last Supper”. It’s also got an exploding restaurant scene complete with many old favourites and  fresh new surprises. But the one relentless magnet that pulls Isprava to Milan every year is the buzzy annual Milan Design Week and its international furniture fair. It’s much more than an ordinary industry convention. Think of it as the Paris Fashion Week of the design world. And expect a huge, glamour-filled week with interesting things to do and beautiful things to fall in love with—like 3D constructed lamps, modernist couches, sleek kitchen ware, new technologies, home automation and so much more. The magnitude: more than 1300 vendors and 150,000 square feet of exhibition space, not including all the other fairs and venues it encompasses. We give you an insider’s peek on what our resident interior designers saw, loved and did during this year’s Milan Design Week. It’s time to get inspired!!

The best installations this year: Terrazzo—but this year it arrived with a twist. Note Design Studio teamed up with French manufacturer Tarkett on an installation of geometric totem poles that look like terrazzo sculptures, but are really a new material called iQ Surface. This amazing, durable product can cover any manner of curves and angles, and it can be continuously recycled. It promises function, form and expression of colour. The objects that were showcased came in a chic, moody colour palette of rust,  grey, cream and navy. Perfect for a new generation of design application on multiple surfaces like walls, furniture as well as floors, place it in a designer’s hands, and magic will happen—a release of unlimited creative potential. iQ was definitely a stand-out, and it even inspired Isprava to learn more about the product and find ways to incorporate the iQ Surface for its own spaces.

Minotti, a larger-than-life installation that was really incredible. We witnessed some of the most beautiful furniture all housed in a massive glass structure. The sofas and chair lounges from Japanese studio, Nendo were the highlight! Another great one was India-based Scarlet Splendour who had a fantastic stall in which they collaborated with Matteo Cibic on a new range of furniture that was extremely whimsical and very interesting.

VVV by Vandont for DCW Editions was another stunner. We loved the curtain light installation by Design Academy Eindhoven graduates—Esther Jongsma and Sam van Gurp. Their design was first presented in 2017, and now two years later, French brand  DCW Editions has put it into production. The design celebrates traditional mechanics. Its modular style allows you to create a wall of light that fits your space. It is a great illumination alternative to ordinary ceiling spot lights that most spaces use today.

Above: Tarkett Note Design Studio

Flexform launched a new furniture line that had a focus on the use of different materials. While Fantoni had a fantastic range of office furniture that redefined the entire way you perceive furniture at the workplace. And Flos had a stunning grid-like structure of lights that was true to its brand ideology of clean and simple, but supremely effective. All three of these installations were  impressive in their own unique way.

The next crowd puller was Tom Dixon’s restaurant—The Manzoni—where everything was for sale. This display brought elements of food and design together, and it was a great cultural activity as well as a hobby for many. The concept was: try before you buy, where you can experience the products within the context of hospitality and then buy whatever you enjoyed the most! Suffice to say, Isprava enjoyed a lot!

A great collaboration to witness was Giorgetti with designers Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, who together launched the Loop Armchair. It is a small outdoor armchair that is born from the intersection of pure geometric shapes, refined by soft elements. The surfaces play on materials like the technological EVA—a waterproof polymer, creating very unexpected tactile sensations. It is also composed of ash wood and aluminium, and available in two heights.

The Bodies in Motion party co-hosted by Dezeen and Humanscale, an office furniture brand, was an event organised to celebrate  this installation. It is a moving sculpture made from 15 beams of light that respond to and mimic the viewers movements. This  interactive light sculpture designed by New York-based Todd Bracher aimed to capture the feeling of human movement in its most  essential and natural form. The installation was influenced by the research of Swedish scientist Gunnar Johansson, who investigated motion perception in the 1970s. He explored the idea that our brain is hard-wired to recognise the human figure with even the  slightest bit of information. So even with just three points moving to a certain formation, you will understand that this is a human arm moving. Or with 15 points, you will decipher that it is a human figure walking. So fascinating!

Some of our favourite brand displays from this year were COS, Versace, Gucci, BDDW, Kvadrat and Louis Vuitton! Swarovski in  Euroluce—the light fair— was simply fantastic. It featured lights that were all cast in crystal and had haptic touch sensor on top of  them, which responded to the lightest touch and went dimmer or brighter basis how hard you pressed the crystals. They also had an interactive installation of a massive chandelier that had a variety of bulbs that could be pulled up or down, depending on how you wanted the chandelier to look. Outside Rho Fiera, there were some incredible installations worth the while as well. One of our favourites was at Fondazione Prada—a massive gold leafed building which houses some of the most unique art. The highlight here  was the sensory deprivation chamber which was so black that one could not see their hand in front of them as they walked through it. It was a long, black passage that went on for about a hundred meters, and felt extremely disorienting. At the end of the long  tunnel was an installation of upside down rotating mushrooms in psychedelic colours, sending your senses for a complete spin.  Finally, don’t miss the installations in Fuorisalone and Salone Satellite—this is where true innovation and design ideas are explored. This is where the limits are pushed and boundaries between the various schools of design are brought together intended to blow your mind, and make you stop and think.

Just some of the other things to do in Milan:
This list can be endless. But whatever little time you get before, in between or after the fairs and exhibitions, you must use to  experience the many other hidden gems of the city. As a former resident of Milan, one thing Shonali loves about the place are the  parks. For instance, you can easily spend hours at Parco Sempione without even realising the time flying by. For some more   exposure on design, visit the Triennale Design Museum—brimming with endless installations from brilliant minds all over the world,  as well as a magnificent media library on design, art and architecture. The Milano fashion tour is another must-do, which will  take you inside the hidden ateliers and showrooms of Milan. Take a picture at the beautiful 18th century Palazzo Morando, before indulging in one of the best shopping experiences in the world, at Antonia.

Design centric restaurants and bars to visit:
Bar Luce at Fondazione Prada, Hotel Straf, Cafe Cafezal, Carlo e Camilla, Paper Moon for really amazing Italian food, Cafe Corso  Como 12, Eataly, Spazio Rossana Orlandi. Never miss a good Negroni—Bar Basso—the birthplace of the Negroni is a must go. Go to  Obica Mozzarella Bar, an Italian restaurant and pizzeria at the Food Hall 7th floor of Rinascente to witness a beautiful sunset over  delicious cheesy things. At night, after you’re done attending all the brand parties from the fair, flock to Terrazza Duomo 21—a  terrace bar with a view of the Duomo cathedral to enjoy Milan from the top. On your last day, have aperitivo on the Navigli.

The desserts to die for:
Have everything sweet. Profiteroles, Tiramisu, Panacotta and Gianduja gelato from Cioccolati Italiani. But for the best gelato ever,  there is a hole in the wall place called Gelateria Musica on Via Pestalozzi.

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