A-N-D’s installation at Alcova.
Photo: Piergiorgio Sorgetti/alcova.milano

Galerie Editor in Chief Jacqueline Terrebonne Picks 10 Standouts from Milan Design Week

These installations and debuts in the heart of the city stood out for their originality and beauty

Every year, I look forward to April with eager anticipation—as this is when the design world descends on Milan to see what’s new and next. This year’s event, which was held from April 15 through 21, lived up to all the hype with a plethora of exciting installations and debuts happening throughout city. The events seemed to be more packed than ever, as lines snaked around blocks filled with people waiting to get a glimpse of the latest offerings, often displayed within dazzling palazzos.

From the weirdly wonderful to the quietly luxurious, there was much to discover from established furniture brands, fashion houses with home offerings, and up-and-coming design talents. Here, I share ten highlights from Milan Design Week that stayed with me after returning home. I know you’ll see these discoveries and so many more in our pages and on the site for many months to come.

The CC-Tapis installation at Alcova during Milan Design Week. Photo: Piergiorgio Sorgetti/alcova.milano

1. Alcova at Villa Bagatti Valsecchi and Villa Borsani

Now in its seventh edition, Alcova continues to bring together a wide range of incredible artisans and makers in unique locations noted for their architectural and historical significance. At both Villa Bagatti Valsecchi and Villa Borsani, where we found ourselves—along with 90,000 other visitors—winding our way through the sites with exhibitions tucked into every imaginable location, from the cellar to the guard house. Among the more than 70 designers and brands that participated were Objects of Common Interest, CC-Tapis (shown), Cengiz Hartmann, and Natalia Criado.

Rubelli presented its collaboration with Martino Gamper. Photo: Courtesy of Rubelli

2. Rubelli Collaboration with Martino Gamper

Rubelli welcomed us into their newly renovated showroom, which has been transformed thanks to the fresh, imaginative vision of Formafantasma. The new design was especially effective in showing off the introduction of Figura, an innovative project by Martino Gamper. Instead of offering a chair in various forms, the introduction allows you to mix and match components to create your own ideal piece. The four elements—which are the backrest, seat, armrest, and sides—are available in three different options each, all upholstered in exquisite Rubelli fabrics. The collection is do-it-yourself at its very finest.

Armani/Casa installation at Palazzo Orsini. Photo: Federica Bottoli

3. Armani/Casa at Palazzo Orsini

Presenting a collection entitled “Echoes from the World,” Armani/Casa may have drawn the longest lines in town. Design lovers queued up to get a peek inside Palazzo Orsini, where Armani Privé does fittings for haute couture clients. On the spectacular piano nobile, the collection told the story of the legendary Giorgio Armani’s travels around the world, showcasing the the home collection with pieces both from his personal art and antiquities trove as well as similarly inspired one-of-a-kind runway pieces. I found it to be such a rich and wonderful look at the inspiration behind many aspects of the brand as well as the man who started it all. “For this edition of the Salone del Mobile, I imagined a ‘cinematic’ journey to the countries that have always inspired me: places and cultures that spark highly personal re-workings,” said Mr. Armani. “This is why I wanted the furniture to converse with fashion, and why I wanted to exhibit everything in the Via Borgonuovo location.” That tour included an “Arabian Nights” theme, which featured an edition of the bar cabinet with a blue leather interior and embroidered poufs.

Parola table lamp in Gucci’s signature signature red, Rosso Ancora. Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

The Le Mura sofa by Mario Bellini for Tacchini from 1972. Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

4. Gucci Design Ancora

Gucci creative director Sabato De Sarno presented five Italian design icons, reimagined in the brand’s signature signature red called Rosso Ancora, in special project co-curated Michela Pellizzari, founder of Milan creative agency P:S, and in an installation conceived by architect Guillermo Santomà. During the week’s many introductions, these five products had such a lasting impression. Perhaps it was the striking mix of red and chartreuse, or it could have been the tightly edited selection. From the Parola table lamp by Gae Aulenti and Piero Castiglioni from 1980 to the Le Mura sofa by Mario Bellini for Tacchini from 1972, this exhibition had me seeing red.

Ralph Lauren showcased its new Ralph Lauren Home collection. Photo: Francois Ha

5. Ralph Lauren Home “Modern Driver” Collection

For the second time ever, Ralph Lauren opened the doors of its palazzo to the design world. There, the quintessential American brand shared its much anticipated new Ralph Lauren Home collection, which centers on Mr. Lauren’s personal automobile collection. “My ideas come from my life, my work, from everyday living,” he said. “Cars have always been part of that.” Throughout the collection of sleek, sculptural furniture pieces and accessories, nods to the magnificence of beautifully crafted cars abounded in the materials, such as polished stainless steel, burl and mahogany wood, and carbon fiber. Another major component was burnished saddle leather imagined in crisp lines for the Lounge Chair. But perhaps the most iconic piece on display was the iconic RL-CF1 chair, originally introduced in 2003 and inspired by Mr. Lauren’s own McLaren F1 race car. It’s now been reimagined in 71 layers of tissue carbon fiber, the same material used in those highly specialized vehicles.

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Loewe’s installation at Palazzo Citterio. Photo: courtesy of Loewe

6. Loewe Lamps

Loewe continues to champion craft in such a unique and passionate way, and its installation at the Palazzo Citterio was another resounding example of this. In collaboration with 24 artists with close relationships to the brand, Loewe presented a wide range of works with light as the central idea. The artists, among them Andile Dyalvane, Zizipho Poswa, and Youngsoon Lee, used materials including glass, leather, birch twigs, and horsehair in boundary-pushing ways to rethink what a chandelier, table lamp, or floor lamp could be. The result filled the space with a magical glow of creativity.

Installation at the Palazzo Versace. Photo: courtesy of versace

7. Versace “If These Walls Could Talk” Exhibition

A lot of serious, thought-provoking installations happen during Milan Design Week, and in between all of that rigor and seriousness, I always welcome a huge dose of glamour. Versace Home offered just that at the legendary Palazzo Versace, which the atelier has called home since the 1980s. An audio guide created by Radio Raheem, Milan’s foremost independent radio stations, led visitors through the space, calling out major fashion moments that have happened here throughout the years. Also on view was a fully immersive lifestyle experience that showcased the brand’s wide range of offerings, from an entire dining room down to the adult sips cup emblazoned with a rhinestone Versace medusa. The standout piece is the Medusa ’95 conversation sofa, which is both massive and luxurious—creating a cozy, relaxed feeling more akin to very, very large bed with chenille cushions and leather detailing.

Poltrona Frau’s Milan showroom. Photo: Courtesy of Poltrona Frau

8. Poltrona Frau

Poltrona Frau wowed me by the sheer volume of its collaborations and collections. At the flagship store, the brand presented designs in conjunction with Faye Toogood, Draga & Aurel, Sebastian Herkner, GamFratesi, Oswald Boateng, and Fornasetti. Most impressively, they were all distinctly beautiful and done with the quality and craftsmanship for which Poltrona Frau is revered.

The garden area of L'Appartamento by Artemest. Photo: Courtesy of Artemest

John and Christine Gachot of New York firm Gachot designed a garden and bar at L'Appartamento by Artemest. Photo: Courtesy of Artemest

9. L’Appartamento by Artemest

After shuffling from showroom to palazzo to showroom, it was such a refreshing treat to spend some quality time at the garden and bar New York–based firm Gachot designed at L’Appartamento by Artemest. Christine and John Gachot, the cool couple behind the studio known for The Pendry Manhattan West, Pebble Bar, and the Shinola Hotel, went all out including pieces by Artemest as well as custom branded napkins, matches, and drink stirrers. While having a spritz there, I heard about people having spent the whole day camped out in the outdoor living room soaking in the vibes or typing away on their laptops—further proving that the design duo had created a temporary space as inviting as one of their buzzy hotel projects. The other spaces of the Artemest mansion, a Milanese residence built between 1905 and 1907, were conceived by five other designers: Rottet Studio, Elicyon, Rottet Studio, Studio Meshary AlNassar, Tamara FeldmanDesign, and VSHD Design. Each was as inviting and inspiring as the next.

New lamps by Hermès. Photo: Maxime Verret

The scenography at the Hermès presentation. Photo: Maxime Verret

10. Hermès

Just like everything Hermès does, the brand’s Milan Design Week installation always fills me with wonder and delight. You never know what to expect when you step inside La Pelota Jai Alai courts, where the event is held annually. This year, there was a maze of stones a variety of intricate patterns crisscrossing the sunken court, which could be traversed by a series of runways. Staring at the detailed schemes of hand-laid stones put my mind at rest after racing through the city from venue to venue. The Zen moment became a sort of palette cleanser from the chaos outside, and it put me in the mood for appreciating the refined beauty of the Hermès home collection, which was hidden behind a wall at the far end of the stone garden with only a peek-a-boo sliver hinting at what was on the other side. There, Hermès showcased the loose inspiration from the archives that sparked objets and furnishings such as blankets, porcelain, and stools. Just placing a rider’s crop next to a lamp or striped jockey’s silks next to a blanket, the connection became perfectly clear without any extra explanation.

Cover: A-N-D’s installation at Alcova.
Photo: Piergiorgio Sorgetti/alcova.milano


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