This year it took me such a long time to share my observations of the Milan design week 2018… First of all, this year was different. It was a record year in terms of visitors to Milan. The first time in 57 years that Milan approached this event with a global “manifesto” regarding the innovative thinking and craftsmanship. Nevertheless, tons of new products were presented. Not that I am not appreciating the new designs, it is just that I totally agree with this year Barcelona Design Week’s motto “re-evaluate”. At #BDW this year I heard an inspiring phrase of the Lava design founder: “We need a lot of young designers nowadays working on producing as little as possible”…

Another excuse – I saw so little this year that many of the things I had to discover online … (saying upfront that half of the images come from Yatzer, Dezeen, and other design blogs)

In fact, for the new designs presented at Salone del Mobile this year, there were no revolutionary or really outstanding designs this year – at least from what I managed to spot. Instead, the beautiful installations all around Milan were stealing the show this year.  The great sensibility of the colors and textures in the stenographic approach was amazing. This year the interventions in the city did not feel so obvious. Some were done a homage of the great masters, craftsmanship, strong cultural references.

A good example to start with – Wallpaper*Handmade installation at the Mediateca Santa Teresa or Hermès‘ Installation displaying the new collections for the home at the Museo della Permanente. The last one was done from 150 K glazed tiles imported from Morocco. KOSMOS exhibition by WonderGlass at the Istituto dei Ciechi featured impressive artisan glass collection by Bouroullec brothers.

Many of the ephemeral installations this year were so tempting to interact with. Palacio Isimbardi hosted “Open Sky” by COS and Phillip K. Smith III, a multifaceted mirrored installation that took over the palazzo’s courtyard with a semi-circle structure. Quarz manufacturer Caesarstone unveiled Altered States – installation featuring all states of water – 2 glass balls were floating above the fountain with running water in the palace space.

The designer and artist Jacopo Foggini interpreted the world of Amo Ferragamo, the new fragrance of Ferragamo Parfums. A labyrinth composed of modules of polycarbonate stranded hanging from a wooden structure with the fragrance of the perfume.

Palacio Litta´s courtyard was taken over by Tempietto del Bosco – wood-based installation creating a forest-like atmosphere surrounded by Renaissance structure – relaxation oasis in the busy and exciting Milan.

I have also enjoyed visiting several exhibitions that felt a deep sense of reconsideration of the main design function and cherishing the design classics that still enrich our every day’s life and lead young designers today. Like the tribute to Gio Ponti and Domus magazine – the oldest contemporary magazine of design and architecture @10corsocomo. Or the homage to Achill Castiglioni @Flos Showroom or @Cassina Milan Showroom after 50 years of opening in 1968 has been reshaped with a new language under Patricia Urquiola direction: a new chapter following after the masters Mario Bellini, Vico Magistretti, Clino Trini Castelli, Achille Castiglioni, Giancarlo Tintori. Especially nostalgic felt the reissue of the Beugel chair by Rietveld.

Vitra “Typecasting” was showcasing a massive podium featuring lots of products and prototypes during its 70 years history – some became an icon´s and some are just bizarre objects that were left as prototypes in the Vitra design museum.

One of the best-designed exhibitions for me this year was the exhibition in Ventura Centrale dedicated to one of the most important architects of the 20th century in Brazil Italian born Lina Bo Bardi. She was standing out for her passion for experimenting with shapes and materials – always approaching her designs with creativity but serving as a specific practical solution.

Another highlight was Fondazione Prada – reconstruction done by OMA at the old panettone factory that was taken over by Alcova, a project by Space Caviar and Studio Vedèt. It was hosting numerous expositions and talks by standing out designers from all over the world like Georgian design studio Rooms with their interesting retrospective exposition “Sculpting in Time” – work that combines ethnic Georgian furniture design with brutalist architectural forms. Or Bloc Studios presented three new series of objects created in collaboration with young designers.

Overall, this year Milan and it´s rich design heritage, opulent Avant Garde culture and big breakthrough in the 70s and 80s were brought on scene by the key design studios from Milan:

Studio Peppe recreated the old Avant-garde atmosphere of Milan in 70s with the six-room club Unseen, which occupied a former late 19th-century warehouse on the ground floor of an elegant historic Milanese property. It was intended to be a hidden place in the busy itineraries of Milan during that week.

Cristina Celestino chose to reinterpret the historic streetcars of the city, imagining an ideal “Cinema Corallo” that was circulating in the Brera district during MDW18.

Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti presented Life in Vogue project where he invited eight internationally acclaimed designers to develop the Editorial Staff rooms and décor in their own inimitable styles.

Transfer exhibition by Dimore Gallery Via Solferino, 11. Was featuring their vision of the best of the epoch: among the pieces on display were works by Carlo Mollino, Angelo Lelli, Giò Ponti, Carlo Scarpa, Alvar Aalto, Charlotte Perriand and Jean Royère. Dimore Studio also presented their collection of 11 limited edition pieces in an atmospheric space of the purple mystical shade filled with smoke and twin picks music. Also, a well-known online platform https://www.1stdibs.com/ that deals with the sales of exclusive vintage, limited edition design pieces, and artworks have teamed up with the designers to present its own limited-edition collection.

Not only the vanguardists of the design stage nowadays were coming up with impactful showpieces. Inspiration Fortuna cookie from Swedish design students for Hemma brand and ocean inspired tandem Calico Wallpaper and Lindsey Adelman Studio (light fixture designs).

At the Rho Fiera the dynamics this year was pretty much going the same direction. Most interesting pavilion of young designers Satellite surprised with reinterpreting existing traditions and ingenious new materials usage. Some fresh designs in Hall 16 and 20 from recently established designers like Sebastian Herkner for Pulpo or Stephen Burks for BD Barcelona Design and Dedon.

Most notable part of the Salone del Mobile 2018 is a visible shift towards color and brave expression of it. Brands that have always been into color like Moroso went even deeper, some brands that never did much like Scandinavian Eric Jorgensen really did! I was talking to  Sebastian Wrong – cofounder and lead designer of the Established&Sons company (that has always been similar to BD – a cutting-edge design company) the observation was the same – people are shifting from the safe earthy tones and conventional approach to what is practical, beautiful etc. His new product this year  – Filigrana lighting – seems discrete actually, but it is a very unique project – complex glass blown technique that is still alive only in 3 workshops in Italy!

As usual, my all-time favorite Arper and E15 brought a good portion of beautiful colors, shapes, and ideas for what is a good and functional design. #ArperValues balance, intuition, family, color, lightness & play – is an identity of its own that every year is presented in the same way still manages to impress. And Vitra of course – what can be said about Vitra? genius again and again – this year Hella Jorgerious, a well-known master of color, and its patchwork sofa touched me.

Of course, I wouldn´t be me if I would not spot some nice designs for bringing the greenery into your home – like Miniforms accessories for indoor plants styling 😊

In terms of stand designs of course Frame awards for Best Stand Design was a good indicator – USM stand won the award twice – and very well deserved!

Nevertheless, there will be a negative comment here. I felt very buzzed this year. Media is constantly pushing forward their business and information noise, instead of being responsible influencers and taking a good stance in the media sharing. It is obvious that today everyone, in the design industry especially, is suffering from the digital anxiety: an uncontrolled amount of subscriptions, newsletters, Instagram, Pinterest… Frame awards, Dezeen awards calling you to enter every day in their newsletter – everyone is falling into the same trap of being overwhelmed with new designs, new posts, new influences. Dezeen talk about the new @design account of Instagram was the last drop to reconfirm this impression – speakers went down into talks of how and what they post: their shoes, favorite colors… It is another bubble that will blast sooner or later, but …as soon it works for several years #milanogram hashtag of Dezeen can be a good guide for you to follow.

See most impressive stuff from this year -> #MDW2018 PART2 SOCIAL AND SUSTAINABLE ISSUES THAT SHAPE DESIGN


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