What to See and Experience Live at Milan Design Week

We rounded up this year’s must-see displays and installations, from a symposium by Prada to an installation by an Academy Award-nominated director, as Milan Design Week returns for its first full-scale event since the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s our pick of the crop.

The Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone return to Milan with a calendar full of events. The 2022 Design week begins with a symposium organized by Prada at the Braidense Library curated by Milan-based duo Formafantasma. Formafantasma

The Salone del Mobile fair, which is also commemorating its 60th anniversary, will return this year, as will several independent design events and exhibitions staged throughout Milan. Visitors can expect a jam-packed program during this year’s Milan Design Week, which runs from June 6 to 12. Here’s our list of unmissable events and projects.

“Prada Frames” curated by Formafantasma

Running in parallel to Milan Design Week, “Prada Frames” is a multidisciplinary symposium that delves into the complex relationship between the natural environment and design. The initiative is a moment of collective reflection that aims at examining and correlating innovative thoughts, while offering a pioneering body of knowledge.

In line with the progressive and increasingly significant relationship between environmental studies and all fields of knowledge and culture, “Prada Frames” brings together the valuable contribution of scholars and professionals, such as scientists, architects, designers, artists, activists, anthropologists and law experts. The first edition of the symposium starts from the ecosystem of the forest and the logics that govern the timber industry today, extending this thought to the role of design and science as agents of change.

From 6–8 June, National Braidense Library. Two sessions per day that include readings, debates, conversations, and video projections. Admission is free, subject to availability, upon registration on prada-frames.com
Singing Enzo Mari The Function of Esthetic Research Listening Sessions by Lorenzo Mason Studio

Playing on the duality of the Italian word opera, as the term for a work of art and an opera in the musical sense, the listening sessions transform Mari’s words into a sensorial performance in which the audience is able to hear his utopia through an unusual voice.

Focusing on his book The Function of Esthetic Research (1970), which has become a rare physical artefact, only accessible to few, the listening sessions convert Mari’s words into an original musical encounter thanks to specialised computer-aided singing technology. In this way Mari’s thinking is brought into public discourse, away from the printed page: ideas are untethered from their original format, unleashed into the world, ready for unsuspecting minds to absorb and make their own. Liberated, open to the public and free of charge, this is your chance to experience Enzo Mari’s work like never before.

Singing Enzo Mari The Function of Esthetic Research Listening Sessions take place in Ncontemporary Milan gallery space for Milan Design Week.

From 8–12 June, at the NContemporary gallery. Free admission.
“IN-BETWEEN. Art & Design”

Casa Baglioni, the new Milanese hotel of the Baglioni Collection set to open in the Brera district by the end of the year, designed by the architectural firm Spagnulo & Partners, opens the doors of its building at 21 Via dei Giardini with an exhibition that describes the delicate relationship between art and design, with works by three major international artists: Agostino Bonalumi, Anne Imhof and Giulio Paolini. The works on display during Milano Design Week are part of the Stefano Cecchi Trust Collection – Fondo per l’Arte, a collection created by entrepreneur Stefano Cecchi with the curatorship of Iole Pellion di Persano.

At Casa Baglioni, from 6-12 June. Free admission.
Luca Guadagnino’s Studio

Studio Luca Guadagnino (SLG), the interior architecture firm founded by Academy Award-nominated director Luca Guadagnino, will make its public premiere in Milan with the exhibition titled “By the Fire.”

This will contain SLG-designed fireplaces and coffee tables, as well as other brands’ design pieces and a collection of vintage furniture. The project will take the form of two living rooms designed by Carlo Scarpa, a mid-century Italian architect.

From 6-12 June, Spazio RT. Free admission.

At Milan’s Centro Ospedaliero Militare di Milano, a historic military hospital, independent design platform Alcova will feature numerous exhibitors, opening up a hitherto unseen portion of the site to the public.

Alcova will launch ‘Curated by Alcova,’ a new platform for international designers. This year, visitors to Alcova can expect even more food and beverage experiences in the huge exhibition site, which spans 20 hectares and includes both indoor and outdoor areas.

From 6-12 June, via Simone Saint Bon 1. Free admission.
Milan Design Week 2022
Porsche – The Art of Dreams

For the first time at Milan Design Week, Porsche produced an immersive installation as part of its new art initiative “The Art of Dreams.” Through the work of floral artist Ruby Barber, Porsche’s aim is to explore the interaction between nature and technology with an immersive, dreamlike installation at Palazzo Clerici.

From 6-12 June, Palazzo Clerici. Free Admission.
Stark – Momentum

Leading multimedia and interactive experience installation company Stark transforms the Civic Aquarium spaces with a visual and experiential installation on the time-space/environment system, which is also part of the Ocean Week schedule.

From 6-12 June, at the Civic Aquarium. Free admission.
Interni Design Re-Generation – Feeling the Energy

On the occasion of the INTERNI Design Re-Generation exhibition-event organized by the magazine edited by Gilda Bojardi, CRA and Italo Rota designed “Feeling the Energy,” an interactive installation for Plenitude in collaboration with KME at the Brera Botanical Garden.

The project consists of 500 meters of antibacterial copper pipe to create an energy park, through a linear pathway, where people can experience different forms of sustainable energy, interacting with the elements and their multiple uses to produce sound, light, evaporative cooling, in an interactive experience. 

June 6-12, Brera Botanical Garden. Free admission.
We Will Design at BASE

From 6–12 June, BASE presents the second edition of “We Will Design” — an experimental workshop with designers from around the world, schools, universities, international institutions and young students to imagine, through design, new tools, practices and experiences as an answer to the many contradictions of the present. Circular economy, biodiversity, co-design processes, new approaches to learning and individual devices will be the focus of three macro-projects curated by BASE for the Design Week.

From 6–12 June at BASE. Free admission.
“871 days, 50 products, 17 designers and 1 single color” at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum

La Manufacture’s captivating journey over 871 days since the unveiling of entrepreneur Robert Acouri’s ambitious dream to gather under one roof marquee designers exalting French allure and Italian know-how is the protagonist of “871 days, 50 products, 17 designers and 1 single color. A temporary exhibition conceived by Luca Nichetto,” at Milan’s Museo Poldi Pezzoli. La Manufacture’s multidisciplinary creative bent led by the vision, intuition and design credentials of its artistic director Luca Nichetto takes on a new meaning displayed against the sumptuous backdrop of 19th-century rooms of the Milan museum.

Envisioning La Manufacture as a dynamic creative hub and construction site with a work in progress quality, Luca Nichetto retraces its design evolution selecting a single orange nuance, drawn from men at work’s orange vests, for new iterations of the firm’s iconic pieces. All materials, from wood and metal to glass and ceramics, as well as upholstery are rendered in the same specially created zingy tone. La Manufacture sourced around 200 meters of textiles Vidar from Denmark specialist Kvadrat’s collection developed in partnership with fashion designer Raf Simons. 

From 6–12 June, at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Free admission.
“Memphis Again” at Triennale Milano

The exhibition presents more than two-hundred pieces of furniture and objects (bookshelves, dividers, vetrines, toilette furniture, dining tables, countertop tables, coffee tables, desks, chairs, couches, sofa beds, table lamps, appliques, floor lamps, chandeliers, ashtrays, flower pots, fruit bowls, fabric accessories, rugs) in the most diverse selection of materials (wood, plastic, laminate, glass, ceramic, porcelain, silver, steel, fabric) produced between 1981 and 1986 for the Memphis collection. The objects are displayed in chronological order, just like a fashion show in which the observer will be the one moving along the catwalk in a space that, thanks to the furniture and the music by Seth Troxler, feels like a nightclub.

Until June 12, at Triennale Milano. Tickets start at €11 and are available at triennale.org.

Le FRENCH DESIGN, a platform promoting innovation in furniture and interior design, presents the exhibition “Voyage en Intérieur, Le French Art de Vivre” (Journey into an Interior, The French Art of Living).

Established in 2019, Le FRENCH DESIGN organizes every two years ‘Le FRENCH DESIGN 100,’ the only design award in France that enhances the international reach of French designers and interior designers with the aim of selecting 100 objects and spaces that best represent French design in the world, including both the leading names in the national context and the most interesting stars of tomorrow.

The exhibition in Milan showcases  a selection of the most interesting self-produced design creations by the winning interior designers of the second edition of the ‘Le FRENCH DESIGN 100’ award. The creations on display highlight the richness of French design in its creation, novelty of uses, sustainability, and the many craft and industrial skills involved, alongside customized or unique proposals for the hospitality, retail and residential sectors.

Underlining the historical links between French interior designers and the art of their time, and the uniqueness of these creations, the exhibition at the Institut Français Milano inaugurates an original dialogue between the design objects and a number of contemporary works of art chosen from three major Milanese galleries selected by Isabelle Valembras-Dahirel: Monica De Cardenas, Antonia Jannone, and Viasaterna.

From 7–12 June at the Institut français Milan. Free admission.
Divided Layers By Kohler X Daniel Arsham

Kohler, a global lifestyle brand and kitchen and bath product leader, is returning to Milan Design Week with the world premiere of an immersive art experience created in collaboration with artist-designer Daniel Arsham. “Divided Layers,” a site-specific work that builds on the duo’s release of Rock.01, a 3D printed sink Daniel Arsham produced in cooperation with Kohler in 2021, is shown in Kohler’s FuoriSalone exhibition. 

From 6-12 June, Palazzo del Senato. Free admission.
Fornasetti’s “The Garden of Possible Natures”

To mark Milan Design Week 2022, Fornasetti presents “The Garden of Possible Natures,” a new collection of furniture and upholstered items designed specifically for outdoor use. The shape of the ‘Capitellum’ chair recalls classical ruins, one of the Milan Atelier’s thematic inspirations, reinterpreted in a contemporary way. The Ara Solis table is also available in three colours, with a base reminiscent of the fluting of classical columns and a top featuring an unmistakable Fornasetti sun, a decoration obtained by laser cutting.

To create outdoor furniture, Fornasetti experimented with the use of a previously unexplored material in terms of the Atelier’s output: namely steel, an alloy that is particularly complex to shape. 

From 6-12 June, at the Fornasetti store. Free admission.
Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.