What our executive editor loved most at Milan Design Week 2024

Big Love

Milan Design Week furniture on view

Salone del Mobile, Fuorisalone, Milan Design Week—the past week’s thousands of events blur together in a spritz-induced haze. With no way to even see a good chunk of what was on view, the best strategy was to make a strategic plan that was flexible enough to allow changes and, like a surfer, suit up to go catch some waves.

The year’s trends are already evident in the ocean of other coverage: an interest in re-issued pieces, oversize echoes of postmodern designs collided with minimalism, a surge in popularity for industrial metals like stainless steel and aluminum, and wide concern with material sourcing as the design world responds to the climate crisis by shifting its manufacturing processes. Scroll down to see my decet of favorites. We came, we saw, we Bar Basso’d.

The retrospective at the Triennale was a welcome addition to this year’s inspiring edition of SaloneSatellite (Gianluca Di Ioia/© Triennale Milano)

Universo Satellite

Now in operation for a quarter of a century under the imaginative eye of Marva Griffin, SaloneSatellite’s selection of emerging design is a constant inspiration and has jump-started the careers of many famous names. Beyond the strong showing at the fair, a show about SaloneSatellite’s history was on view at the Triennale. It gave detailed information about each instance of the pop-up exhibition on large boards and gathered furniture from prior editions in mixed ensembles. Brava, Marva!

Io sono un drago is on view until October 13 (Courtesy Delfino Sisto Legnani/Triennale Milano)

Io sono un drago

Milan’s Triennale hosted a number of great exhibitions during Milan Design Week, including Inga Sempé’s The Imperfect Home (which runs through September 15), but this retrospective about the work of Alessando Mendini, produced with the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and curated by Fulvio Irace, is a showstopper. Witness Mendini’s poppy paintings and color-dot furniture, in addition to a long table of models that could have been on the moodboards for Nickelodeon set designers in the 1990s. I also appreciated seeing grids of Mendini’s sketches alongside the covers he directed while editing Casabella and Domus. The exhibition is on view through October 13.

resin work of Laurids Gallée
Baranzate Ateliers began with a group of Belgian designers and included the resin work of Laurids Gallée (Amber Vanbossel)

Baranzate Ateliers

Installed in two warehouses near the Linate airport, Baranzate Ateliers’s spread of collectible design organized by Zaventem Ateliers began with a group show of Belgian designers, including the superstar duo Muller van Severen who had a busy Salone this year. One of the buildings included work from Zaventem makers, with a set of new pieces from founder Lionel Jadot, while the other had showings from guests. Set-ups from Objects With Narratives—who staged a solo show by Laurids Gallée to show off his Hazy Gymnastics collection, made in resin—and ceramic mosaic panels by the London-based Boquita del Cielo stood out. Refreshingly chill.

3D printing on-site
3D-printing by WASP happened on-site within one of the tunnels at Dropcity (Piercarlo Quecchia)


A long-term project by architect Andrea Caputo to activate the barrel-vaulted spaces under an elevated railway, Dropcity unsurprisingly had the most “architectural” installations this year. Sam Chermayeff Office, supported by Maharam, studied tent typologies; 6:AM—GLASSWORKS presented furniture made from reclaimed glass; and an architecture exhibition curated by Alessandro Bava and Fabrizio Ballabio included work by Leonardo and Laura Mosso, Christian Kerez, Bless, Kuehn Malvezzi, and Sub. In another tunnel, close-cropped photographs of architectural elements from Instagram-famous observer Adam Štěch were hung in grids. I also liked the dedicated exploration of aluminum profiles in interior fit-outs by Seoul-based practice ARCHI@MOSPHERE.

Design Space AlUla
Upon entrance, guests are greeted by a giant couch, Haus Dari, designed by Hall Haus (Courtesy Design Space AlUla)

DesignSpace AlUla at Mediateca Santa Teresa

For its first appearance during Milan Design Week, DesignSpace AlUla, a center for design in Saudi Arabia, took over the Mediateca Santa Teresa in Brera with an exhibition designed by CLOUD and Studio Sabine Marcelis. Outside, visitors were greeted with tea and dates before a curvy entrance funneled guests up and into the show. The highlight was Haus Dari, a giant couch designed by the French collective Hall Haus; folks could lounge—shoes off!—beneath an oculus surfaced in scrim as the lighting changed colors, giving off a moody vibe. It was also great to see pieces by TAKK and others from the center’s Madrasaat Addeera Editions and view results from its recent residency program, curated by Ali Ismail Karimi of Civil Architecture (and an AN contributor).

An installation view of Cini Boeri nella Biblioteca del Parco (Courtesy Gianluca Di Ioia/Triennale Milan)

Cini Boeri at 100

Two pop-ups activated the archive of woman architect Cini Boeri to mark her 100th birthday. A range of furniture was on view in Parco Sempio’s public library, offering a more domestic-scaled setting to appreciate her lamps and pieces, including the famous Ghost armchair from 1987. Within the enclosed courtyard of Loro Piana’s Cortile della Seta headquarters in Brera, visitors could perch on a new version of her Botolo seat, whose cylindrical legs conceal casters, or try her Strips sofa, first introduced by Arflex in 1972. A retrospective of Boeri’s work is planned to appear at the Triennale in 2026.

Formafantasma’s SuperWire at Milan Design Week
Formafantasma’s SuperWire fixtures are bolted together to allow interior access to replace lighting elements (Nicolò Panzeri)

Flos at Palazzo Visconti

In 1988, Flos staged the launch of its first lamp designed by Philippe Starck in the palazzo at an event thick with design talent. Inspired by an archival photo, Flos returned to the venue to deliver an “anti-nostalgia operation” where its newest creations are showcased in a strikingly contemporary display designed by Arquitectura-G that leans on mirrored glass. New offerings include the Emi lamp by Erwan Bouroullec, the IC 10 Anniversary by Michael Anastassiades, Barber Osgerby’s Bellhop Glass, and Formafantasma’s SuperWire. The last product, in its tall, leggy, floor-lamp variant, was my favorite.

Mutina presented Osso & Bottone, a new outdoor tile collection designed by Ronan Bouroullec (Giulio Ghirardi)

Mutina at Spazio Cernaia

In Brera, Mutina debuted Osso & Bottone, an outdoor tile collection designed by Ronan Bouroullec, a longtime collaborator for the tile company. This new line includes thin, rectangular pieces with half-circle cut-outs along the perimeter, which when installed are filled with grout and become circular “voids” between the tiles. The presentation in the courtyard was casual and nicely done. Bouroullec also launched a new series of Editions, which include oversize vases and a modular candelabrum. The pieces are finished in different colors and glazes, making for a fun, pomo showing.


red furnishings
At 10 Corso Como, Verner Panton Design went peak 1970s basement (Courtesy Verner Panton Design AG)

Panton Lounge at Capsule Plaza

Capsule Plaza’s two locations were buzzy centers during Milan Design Week; its Hydro pop-up at Spazio Maiocchi made the cut for our design editor’s roundup. Across town on the second floor above 10 Corso Como, smaller exhibitions were on view, including furniture by Anne Holtrop and Herzog & de Meuron. Still, one participant went big: The estate of Danish designer Verner Panton, in collaboration with Vitra, Amini, &Tradition, Verpan, Offecct, Kvadrat, Montana, and Syng, created an immersive room filled with Panton’s furniture and fixtures. Within this peak 1970s basement setting, guests could lounge, chill, and even order a drink from the bar.

Loewe’s pop-up in Brera presented 24 lamps designed by artists (Jack Murphy)

Loewe at Palazzo Citterio

Many fashion brands offered low-key shows, talks, and activations across town. I missed most of them (!) but managed to catch Loewe’s pop-up in Brera which presented 24 lamps designed by artists. (Anthea Hamilton’s was my favorite: Her large, kimono-like floor piece set five bulbs behind wavy glass.) The entire crowded scene was more interesting than any single object: The lamps were set on a raised wooden floor and suspended from a metallic ceiling supported by thin columns. It was a response to a response, as the underground concrete gallery dates from 1987 when the palazzo was renovated by British architect James Stirling.