Milan is getting ready to host one of the coolest events of the year, Design Week, the biggest international design fair that will take place between 17 and 22 April.
Milan Design Week is just around 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.
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 Salone del Mobile website to avoid wasting time in long queues (it costs 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. And 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 is the name given to a 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. The really cool thing is that, unlike Fashion Week where most events happen behind closed doors, Fuorisalone is open to everyone.
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 6 pm)
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 am to 10 pm)
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 12 pm to 7:30 pm, 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 just outside of Milan, such as Pavia, a pretty university town very well connected 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, like at Design Cheers, the free wine tasting event at Appartamento Lago di Brera (via Brera 30, every day from 6:30 pm to 8 pm).
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 am to 11 pm).
Alternatively, here are some places I can recommend:
Bar Luce – Fondazione Prada
Cute bar with interiors fashioned by film director Wes Anderson
Largo Isarco 2 (metro station: Lodi)
Osteria con Vista
Delicious food and great cocktails with some of the best views of Milan skyline
Viale Alemagna Emilio 6 (metro station: Cairoli)
Authentic local food in a 60’s atmosphere, just minutes from the Dome
Via Camperio 6 (metro station: Cairoli or Cordusio)
Carlo e Camilla
Drinks and dinner in a former sawmill
Via Giuseppe Meda 24 (metro station: Romolo)
Pizzeria Da Zero
One of the best pizza in town
Via Berardino Luini 9 (Cairoli or S. Ambrogio)
A farmstead in the heart of Milan
Via Cuccagna 2 (metro station: Lodi)
Fioraio Bianchi Caffè
A chic little restaurant in a flower shop
Via Montebello 7 (metro station: Turati)
While you’re in town…
Here are a couple of places to check out when you need a break from all this design:
Frida Kahlo exhibition at Mudec
This is one of the hottest cultural tickets in town at the moment.
Via Tortona 56 (metro station: P.ta Genova)
Highline Galleria Milano
Take a walk on the rooftops of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and enjoy some pretty amazing views.
Via Silvio Pellico 2 (metro station: Duomo)
The Last Supper
There will be late-night openings to admire Leonardo’s masterpiece during Design Week (7 pm-10 pm).
Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie (metro station: Conciliazione)
Milan Design Week runs from 17 to 22 April. Check out the event website for further details.
Until next time