Milan is getting ready to host one of the coolest events of the year, the Design Week, the biggest international design fair that will take place between 17 and 22 April.

Milan Design Week is just round the corner and the city is ready to welcome thousands of visitors to the biggest and most popular design event in the world. For seven days Milan will become the mecca of designers, architects and creatives, with a packed schedule of parties, exclusive presentations, secret pop-ups and beautiful palaces opening their doors to the public. This is one of the best times of the year to visit Milan, thanks to the hundreds of cool happenings that will liven up the city and a buzzing cosmopolitan atmosphere all around.

Let’s sort out the basics

The heart of the Design Week  is Il Salone del Mobile, the international design fair where over 2,000 exhibitors will showcase their products and solutions for contemporary living. Taking place at Rho Fiera, the fair is open to members of the trade only during weekdays, while the general public is admitted over the weekend. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance on the event website to avoid wasting time in long queues (it’s 35 euros, or 39.50 including a return ticket for public transportation). 

Comfort is key for this event, so leave your fancy shoes at home and wear trainers, as you’ll be walking a lot. Also, leave all those colorful brochures and flyers and take photos instead, your back will thank you. Also, because of the great number of exhibitions and parties happening all over town, it’s simply impossible to see everything, so forget your FOMO (aka, fear of missing out) and write down a list of your must-sees instead.

Finding a taxi during Design Week is a real challenge, so you’ll better use the metro. However, make sure to buy tickets in advance using the ATM app in order to avoid queues at the ticket machines. 

Fuorisalone

Fuorisalone is the name given to the series of collateral events taking place in different areas of Milan on the same days of Il Salone del Mobile fair. Many brands take this opportunity to present their new collections and host special events, while prominent designers and young talents exhibit their creations in all sorts of places, from cloisters to reconverted factories and elegant lofts. And the cool thing is that unlike the Fashion Week, where most events happen behind closed doors, the Design Week is open to everyone.

The events of the Design Week will be concentrated around 7 key districts:

Brera

Tortona 

5VIE 

Ventura Centrale 

Porta Venezia 

Lambrate 

Isola 

Here’s a list of initiatives not to miss at Fuorisalone:

  • Design Pride, perhaps the craziest show of the Fuorisalone with a colorful parade that will invade the 5VIE district (18 April, starting at Piazza Castello at 6pm)

  • LEGO store will be turned into a living room by the only Italian LEGO Certified Professional Riccardo Zangelmi, who will use 30,000 LEGO bricks to create paintings, couches and tables (Piazza San Babila)

  • Hidden Garden, a 140-sqm enchanting green space with hundreds of trees and plants among the skyscrapers of Gae Aulenti square (Piazza Gae Aulenti, from 10:00am to 10:00pm)

  • Living Nature, an installation containing four natural, climactic microcosms that will enable all four seasons to unfold at the same time (Piazza del Duomo)

  • Tram Corallo, a screening room on rails recreated inside a historic tram from 1928 that will run through the streets of the Brera District (get your tickets here)

  • Vanity Fair Green House, an oasis of relax organized by the magazine with beauty treatments, cocktails, talks and f course lots of design (Milano Studio, via Tortona 35)

  • MI-ORTO, a vegetable garden that will appear right in front of the Eataly store, with workshops, events and conferences (Piazza XXV Aprile)

  • Material Immaterial Exhibition by the magazine Interni at the Orto Botanico in Brera, with a series of installations focusing on socializing, art and wellness

  • Souvenir Milano @ Brera Design Apartment, a special collection of souvenirs dedicated to Milan created by 12 international designers (via Palermo 1, from 12pm to 7:30pm, free entry)

Check out the Fuorisalone website for the full list of events. 

Where to stay

Find lodging during big trade shows like this one can be really tricky. Rooms fill up quickly and those that are still available usually cost a fortune. Your best bet is to rent a room or an apartment with Airbnb, where there seem to be some apartments still available for next week at about 100 euros per night.

Alternatively, you could consider staying in one of the towns outside of Milan you can easily travel from by public transport. One of these is Pavia, a charming university town with great connections to Milan both by train (30 minutes, timetable here) and bus (40 minutes, timetable here).

Need to fuel up?

Running from one event to the other can be exhausting, so bring with you some snacks and water. You’ll likely find some drinks and finger food in most venues, especially from late afternoon, such as Design Cheers, the free wine tasting event at Appartamento Lago di Brera (via Brera 30, every day from 6:30pm to 8pm).

A great place to check out during the design week is the Eat Urban Food Truck Festival in Sant’Ambrogio, featuring some of the best food operators around (via San Vittore 49, Tue-Sun, from 10:00am to 11:00pm).

Alternatively, here are some places suggestions:

Bar Luce – Fondazione Prada
Cute bar with interiors fashioned by film director Wes Anderson   
Largo Isarco 2
website

Terrazza Triennale
Delicious food and great cocktails with some of the best views of Milan skyline  
Viale Alemagna Emilio 6
website

Risoelatte  
Authentic local food in a 60’s atmosphere, just minutes from the Dome
Via Camperio 6 
website

Carlo e Camilla  
Drinks and dinner in a former sawmill 
Via Giuseppe Meda 24  
website

Pizzeria Da Zero  
Probably the best pizza in town  
Via Berardino Luini 9   
website

Cascina Cuccagna   
A farmstead in the heart of Milan   
Via Cuccagna 2   
website   

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè   
A chic little restaurant in a flower shop    
Via Montebello 7    
website 

While in town…

And finally a couple of places to check out when you need a break from all this design:

Frida Kahlo exhibition at Mudec     
A chic little restaurant in a flower shop    
Via Tortona 56     
website

Highline Galleria Milano      
A chic little restaurant in a flower shop    
Take a walk on the rooftops of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and enjoy the fascinating view over Milan and the Alps
Via Silvio Pellico 2      
website

The Last Supper       
There will be late-night openings to admire Leonardo’s masterpiece at during the Design Week (7:00pm-10:00pm)    
Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie       
website

 

Milan Design Week runs from 17 to 22 April. Have a look at the event website for more details.

 

Until next time

25 replies
  1. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    This sounds like a really cool event! I’ve never been to Milan but it’s super high on my list of places to visit, mostly because my daughter’s name is Milana. Of all the places you listed, the LEGO store sounds like something I would love to see the most!

    Reply
  2. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon says:

    I haven’t visited Milan during Design Week but for the past few years have had few clients participating there who send me their press releases to translate into English ahead of time, so often read about what’s going to be there. I’ll admit, I’m with Maggie in that the LEGO store is definitely the most appealing to me!!! They did something similar here in Wales not long ago – not for a design show or anything, it was just a pop-up Lego interior store.

    Reply
  3. Ada
    Ada says:

    Ive never heard about Milan Design Week but its seems like a lot of fun! I would love to visit it during the event and see those hidden garden especially! I haven’t visit Milan yet as well so it would be a good reason to book a flight 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  4. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    This sounds like an excellent festival and with plenty to see. I like the sound of the hidden garden, and the vegetable patch outside Eatltaly. I can imagine this design week will be so busy, and I’m only sad I won’t be there to see it.

    Reply
  5. Marcie
    Marcie says:

    Oh what an interesting post! At first I thought you were talking about Fashion Week and I wondered why you’d suggest trainers. Then, I realized it was a DESIGN Week. I hadn’t heard of it before but now I want to check it out. That LEGO exhibit sounds amazing and right up my kids’ alley!

    Reply
    • admin
      admin says:

      Ahaha, I don’t know why but many people thought I was talking about fashion week! This is by far a more exciting event with lost of things free to attend for everyone… it’s gonna be fun 🙂

      Reply
  6. Denny George
    Denny George says:

    I’ve been to Milan and loved visiting the historic sites like the Doumo and the Sforza Castle. The design week sounds like an incredible event. Your tips and suggestions would be immensley useful to anyone who visits.

    Reply
  7. Abhinav Singh
    Abhinav Singh says:

    Whoa! That is a grand event! I am sure all roads will lead to Milan between 17th to 22nd April. You shared some really useful tips here. It makes sense o wear trainers. The 39.50 Euro return ticket is a better choice. Of all the initiatives, Hidden garden and Living nature appeals the most to me.

    Reply
  8. kailun
    kailun says:

    I’ve always thought of going ever since I learnt about it. I’ll definitely be checking back here when and if I ever do make plans to go. Thanks for the comprehensive guide.

    Reply
  9. Nathan
    Nathan says:

    I have not been to Milan before but would certainly love to visit as it is very high up on my bucket list. What better time to visit than to explore it together with this amazing event of Milan Design Week! I’d love to explore this design extravaganza including that LEGO event.

    Reply
  10. Arnav Mathur
    Arnav Mathur says:

    Milan Design Week is quite an interesting event to go, when you either you/or your buddy is interested. The tips are quite helpful. The LEGO store is something that looks quite interesting to visit.

    Reply
  11. Yukti
    Yukti says:

    Milan design week looks interesting place with options for all ages. Kids would love to visit Lego and play with thousand of colorful blocks. I would love to see Hidden garden and take beautiful pictures of natural trees. Vanity Fair must be appealing to all ladies and girls. Very useful tips on where to stay and what to do during this design week.

    Reply
  12. Allison
    Allison says:

    I never knew how many events happen around the city. This sounds like an awesome week to be in town. Very informative post with dozens of events and things to do around Milan.

    Reply

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