This spring, as we leave behind the slow and cautious post-pandemic recovery, the spotlight returns to Milan for a thrilling edition of Milan Design Week that marks 2023 as a year of renewal, especially in the world of design.
The euphoria is already palpable in the streets and, most importantly, among the people who year after year make this unique event such an extraordinary nexus of diverse cultures and creative fields. It doesn’t take much for the excitement of the designers, curators and organizers working tirelessly behind the scenes to spread to the public, with thousands of visitors expected to congregate in Milan from all over the globe, reaffirming Milan’s status as the capital of design.
Historic palazzos, industrial edifices and private apartments across Milan’s Design Districts of Brera, Isola, Tortona, and 5 VIE become stages for a multitude of exhibitions, immersive installations, ground-breaking collaborations, anniversary celebrations, product launches, pop-ups and events that spill out onto courtyards, gardens and plazas, addressing a wide range of themes, including sustainable design, circular economy, innovative materials, urban regeneration and artificial intelligence.
As you can imagine, it's impossible to experience the dizzying array of cultural happenings in its entirety, so to help you navigate the kaleidoscopic whirlwind that is Milan Design Week 2023, Yatzer has teamed up with Mr.Lawrence to create a handpicked list of exhibitions and events that we believe you shouldn't miss. Of course, this is only a guide—an integral part of the MDW experience is discovering unexpected displays and hidden treasures as you walk the streets of the city. So wherever you go, whatever you do, keep your eyes wide open. Let the show begin!
Before diving into the city's offerings, let's look at the parallel events at Salone - Fiera Milano, Rho. This year marks the return of Euroluce after a four-year hiatus. Already one of the most anticipated events at the exhibition centre, Euroluce showcases light in all its forms. The lighting biennial, spread across four pavilions, features a redesigned layout thanks to the Lombardini22 studio.
The central attraction, "Aurore", is a large arena designed by Formafantasma, hosting morning lectures, debates, and conferences on lighting innovation with esteemed international guests. Scattered throughout the exhibition, twelve "Constellations" curated by Beppe Finessi and set up by Formafantasma invite visitors to slow down and linger on individual works of art or installations, creating a fluid circuit enriched with public spaces for activities and meetings.
Design Week also serves as a stage for celebrations, most notably the centenary of Triennale di Milano, one of Milan's iconic design institutions. Head to the Museum of Italian Design where an exhibition curated by Marco Sammicheli traces the institution’s history from its founding in 1923 in Monza as the Biennial of Decorative Arts to the present. The exhibition recounts the technological, material, and social research that transformed the identity, aesthetics, and main features of Italian design.
The Triennale also hosts two additional exhibitions, Droog30, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of Droog, one of the most irreverent and disruptive forces in the world of design, curated by Maria Cristina Didero and Richard Hutten , and Text, which highlights the common approach of product designers, stylists, and fashion designers when faced with creating text, interfaces, and fabrics.
Over at 5VIE Design Distric, a diverse array of exhibitions and installations await. At 5VIE's headquarters at Cesare Correnti 14, the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council presents "Echoes of Alchemy", an exhibition co-curated with Mr.Lawrence featuring Irthi's collaborations with Studiopepe and the creative duo Casalinghe di Tokyo, which aims to deconstruct, archive, and reshape traditional UAE recipes, endowing them with new meaning and context. The exhibition also includes a Coffee Experience daily from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., allowing visitors to immerse themselves in an authentic Arabian atmosphere.
Also worth visiting at Cesare Correnti 14 is "A Future for the Past", an exhibition conceived by on∙entropy and curated by Maria Cristina Didero that pays tribute to the rich heritage of Tinos marble and the evolution of the island's craftsmanship through the metaphor of the Temple.
At SIAM 1838, Richard Yasmine presents Silent Hollows, an exhibition produced by 5VIE that celebrates Mother Nature through a 3D collection of handcrafted, printed foam, fiberglass, polyurethane and tinted mirrors, while next door at Via Santa Marta 14, LOVE LETTERS, a group exhibition curated by Anna Carnick of Anava Projects, showcases new pieces by Agustina Bottoni, Eve de Haan, Ibiyanε, Ahryun Lee, Xanthe Somers and Maryam Turkey, rising stars of international design whose work share a strong autobiographical component. Not far, at Spazio BIG Santa Marta, community-based e-commerce platform TA-DAAN's concept store showcases contemporary craftsmanship through the incredible handicraft of young, talented European artisans.
No MDW list is complete without a shout out to Alcova, an itinerant platform founded by Joseph Grima (Space Caviar) and Valentina Ciuffi (Studio Vedèt) which since 2018 has been taking over Milan's abandoned urban settings in spectacular fashion. For its fifth edition, Alcova invites the public to explore the former Porta Vittoria Abattoir, a monumental industrial complex that will host over 70 projects exploring various contemporary design directions, from innovative and sustainable materials to contemporary craftsmanship and sensorial design, featuring institutions, established brands and studios, and emerging talents.
Outside of the Milanese districts, Dimorestudio presents an immersive installation at Dimorecentrale, an expansive multi-purpose space near Milano Centrale Train Station that was inaugurated during 2022 Milan Design Week, WonderGlass brings together glass works by works by John Pawson, Tom Dixon, Elena Salmistraro, Elisa Ossino, Paul Cocksedge, and more in ABRAKADABRA at Istituto dei Ciechi, while Galerie Philia takes over San Vittore e Quaranta martiri, a deconsecrated church in Corvetto, with a group show exploring themes of sacredness and desacralisation. Fittingly titled Desacralized, the exhibition features over 20 established and emerging international designers such as Rick Owens, Arno Declercq, Studiopepe and Morghen Studio whose monumental chandelier stands in the middle of the space.
Nina Yashar, a leading figure in design and founder of Nilufar Gallery, presents "The Bright Side of Design", an exhibition held at Nilufar Depot and Nilufar Gallery at Via della Spiga that explores the state of collectible design. Showcasing an array of inanimate life companions, the exhibition is grounded in a harmonious dialogue between in-depth research on old masters and the discovery of contemporary creators.
At Assab One, a cultural destination that is also home to Formafantasma’s Milanese studio, designer Giacomo Moor presents "Design for Communities", an initiative in collaboration with NGO Liveinslums for which he created beds, tables, and benches for the refectory and dormitory of the Mathare primary school, one of the largest slums in Nairobi.
Creative minds understand the importance of cross-pollination, hence the popularity of projects that emerge when design meets art. Fondazione ICA Milano and APALAZZOGALLERY present "What A Fool Ever To Be Tricked Into Seriousness", the first solo institutional exhibition in Europe by American artist Nathlie Provosty. Curated by Alberto Salvadori, the exhibition showcases Provosty's conscious and direct approach to exploring the constant misunderstandings that govern human perception of the world through a collection of previously unseen oil paintings and works on paper.
Continuing the artistic exploration, Maison Matisse invited British designer Faye Toogood to interpret a Chinese black ink on white paper from Henri Matisse's book Dessins: Thèmes et Variations (1943). The result is a collection of living room and bedroom furniture that reveals a lesser-known aspect of the master's work, emphasizing his black and white drawings, far removed from the colorful pieces we typically associate with him.
Design also intersects with fashion through Marsèll, which presents two events in the brand's Milanese spaces. In thew basement of Marsèll Paradise you will come across a work by German artist Carsten Nicolai, who was featured in the brand's latest art project and the FW 22/23 collection campaign. The showroom on Via Paullo hosts an exhibition by American collective CFGNY, curated by Felix Burrichter of Pin UP Magazine. Fabric brand Byborre unveils "The Elephant in the Room" at Castello Sforzesco in Milan, an exhibition celebrating the textile creation process. Visitors can explore the works of visionaries shaping the future of the supply chain and learn the stories of the change-makers driving transformation. Over three days, a consortium of partners and the Nieuwe Instituut will host a panel focused on the supply chain.
Among exclusive collaborations, Paris-based Austrian designer Robert Stadler joins forces with BITOSSI Ceramiche and Carwan Gallery for the OMG-GMO project. The designer adopts the mutation logic typical of genetically engineered fruits and vegetables to create ten hand-painted ceramic objects that humorously transform the organic into something structural and functional.
Spazio Maiocchi, one of Milan's most fascinating contemporary venues, hosts a site-specific project in its outdoor space inspired by the utopian design of the 1970s and 1980s. Created by Swiss designers Panter & Tourron, the SOFTSCOPE installation is made entirely of XL EXTRALIGHT®, an ultra-light material developed using revolutionary patented Finproject technology. The duo, known for their work at the intersection of technology and society, conceived a pseudo-domestic interior for the installation, part conversation pit and part public stage.
Mosca Partners' Design Variations format returns in 2023 with "Breath", a site-specific work on the façade of Circolo Filologico Milanese, designed by multidisciplinary studio Zaven. The project investigates how design serves as an instrument for a multidisciplinary approach, forming the backbone of the economic and social system and driving innovation.
Milan Design Week is also an ideal platform for large companies seeking more creative freedom beyond the Salone fair. ETEL, the most prominent producer of handcrafted modern and contemporary Brazilian furniture, celebrates its 30th anniversary with re-editions of Jorge Zalszupin's Kanguru Chair, limited edition pieces by Gregori Warchavchik, the 22 Chair by Etel Carmona, and a solo exhibition by Arthur Casas for ETEL presented at Via Maroncelli 12. Cassina presents an exhibition curated by art director Patricia Urquiola and Federica Sala, celebrating 50 years of the Cassina Maestri Collection. The exhibition showcases a unique and well-established method for editing iconic classics, emphasizing authenticity and cultural enhancement, with a vision for the future and unrelenting passion.
NEMO Lighting presents "Enlightenment", a special project conceived by Ron Gilad at BORGONUOVO19 which explores the paradoxical experience of light through and beyond objects. The installation works will stimulate interactions challenging the public's perception of lighting and lamp placement. Mutina presents a highly experimental project on ceramic surfaces, brought to life through collaborations with Patricia Urquiola, a seasoned member of the Mutina team, and Michael Anastassiades, who embarks on a new journey with the company.
As expected a rich schedule of exhibitions, installations, group shows, and new products can be found at Brera Design District, the vibrant core of the Milan Design Week. SolidNature occupyies one of the district's most intimate and hidden spaces at Via Cernaia 1 with the BEYOND THE SURFACE exhibition that features a collection of bespoke stone creations designed by various designers, including Dutch artist and designer Sabine Marcelis, Iranian artist Bita Fayyazi, and others. The installation, designed by OMA, guides visitors through an immersive dreamscape, drawing parallels between stone formation and quarrying, and the realization of dreams.
Loro Piana Interiors presents "Apacheta", a new project by Argentinian designer and artist Cristián Mohaded through an installation within the Cortile della Seta at Loro Piana's Milanese headquarters, transformed into a landscape inspired by ancient Andean traditions. Launched in a dedicated exhibition at Edizioni Marsotto's Brera Showroom, "Largo" is a new series of crafted marble tables designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, inspired by the urban architectural surroundings of Marsotto's Milan showroom situated on Largo Claudio Treves.
Swiss furniture brand USM partnered with social entrepreneur THE SKATEROOM to support a social cause, inviting renowned Swiss artist Claudia Comte to design a limited collection of USM modular furniture and skateboard art editions featuring her captivating artwork. The bespoke collection will fund a social project in Jordan, bringing skateboarding and education to underprivileged boys and girls through the non-profit organization Seven Hills.
Heading over to Tortona Design District, BASE Milano presents the third edition of "We Will Design", an experimental laboratory supporting designers from all over the world working around democratic, plural and inclusive design, able to reach people of every age, ability, gender and culture. Unfolding across several spaces, the series of exhibtions sets off with a large immersive installation by the French artistic collective Claire Fontaine.
Also at Tortona, IKEA celebrates its 80-year anniversary with “Assembling the Future Together” at Padiglione Visconti on Via Tortona. The exhibition brings together iconic products that shaped each decade of the brand’s history, alongside new products that speak to its vision for the future, plus the latest findings of the Life at Home Report, the annual IKEA research study, in connection to which renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz is scheduled to attend the event as IKEA Artist in Residence.
Several new initiatives are also making their debut at this year's Milano Design Week. LABÒ is a new cultural project dedicated to collectible design and research, curated by The Design Blender (Elsa Lemarignier & François Leblanc di Cicilia) and Alisée Matta, with the support of Rodolfo Ferrari Foundation. The creations of over forty designers, companies, and international art galleries will be displayed in the industrial setting of SPA Società Prodotti Antibiotici. Meanwhile Dopo?, an unconventional space operated by a group of creative minds, focuses on the theme of slowness for MDW programming, not only as a common thread of the exhibitions but as an approach to the event. Offering an environment conducive to discussion, dialogue, exchange, and empathy, Dopo? fosters the creation of quality relationships and serves as a place to stay, rather than to pass by in haste.
Lastly, several exhibitions pay tribute to great masters, such "The Age of Metal" at M77 Gallery that celeberates the work of artist, poet, and designer Alessandro Mendini. Taking over Spotti's showroom in Viale Piave, Acerbis presents an installation that celebrates the extraordinary creative fervor of the 1970s, while Caselli 11-12 pays hommage to Ingo Maurer and showcases new products with captivating open-air light installation in a prestigious new space at Porta Nuova.
ALCOVA 5TH EDITION
EX-MACELLO IN PORTA VITTORIA
ECHOES: 50 YEARS OF IMAESTRI
VIA TOMMASO GROSSI, 10
THE AGE OF METALS
VIA MECENATE, 77
ECHOES OF ALCHEMY
The Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council
co-curated with Mr. Lawrence
VIA CESARE CORRENTI, 14
THE BRIGHT SIDE OF DESIGN
VIALE VINCENZO LANCETTI, 34
VIA DELLA SPIGA, 32
DESIGN FOR COMMUNITIES
ONG Liveinslums / Giacomo Moor
VIA PRIVATA ASSAB, 1
Arthur Casas / Etel Carmona / Jorge Zalszupin / Gregori Warchavchik / Percival Lafer
Via Pietro Maroncelli, 13
THE ‘ESQUISSES’ COLLECTION
Faye Toogood / Maison Matisse
VIA SANTA MARTA, 21
THE OMG-GMO PROJECT
BITOSSI Ceramiche / Carwan Gallery
VIA ZENALE, 3
ARCHEOLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS PRELUDE
Vincenzo De Cotiis
VINCENZO DE COTIIS GALLERY
VIA PRIVATA FRATELLI GABBA 1A
BEYOND THE SURFACE
OMA / Bita Fayyazi / Sabine Marcelis
VIA CERNAIA, 1
Panter & Tourron / XL EXTRALIGHT®
VIA ACHILLE MAIOCCHI, 7
Ron Gilad x NEMO Lighting
VIA BORGONUOVO, 19
VIA DELLA MOSCOVA, 33
CIRCOLO FILOLOGICO MILANESE
VIA CLERICI, 10
THE LABÒ PROJECT
The Rodolfo Ferrari Foundation
curated by the Design Blender / Alisée Matta
VIA BIELLA, 6
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
LIGHT – FLOATING REFLECTION
Light installation by Ingo Maurer
PIAZZALE PRINCIPESSA CLOTILDE, 11–12
A FUTURE FOR THE PAST
curated by Maria Cristina Didero
VIA CESARE CORRENTI, 14
TRANSMITTER / RECEIVER
Marsèll / Carsten Nicolai
VIA PRIVATA REZIA, 2
VIA GB SAMMARTINI, 63
GUBI AT BAGNI MISTERIOSI
curated by Marco Sammicheli
TEATRO FRANCO PARENTI
VIA CARLO BOTTA, 18
LOVE LETTERS∙OBJECTS OF OUR AFFECTION
Agustina Bottoni / Eve De Haan / ibiyanε / Ahryun Lee / Xanthe Somers / Maryam Turkey
curated by Anna Carnick of Anava Projects
VIA SANTA MARTA, 14
Michele De Lucchi / Andrea Branzi
ISTITUTO MARCHIONDI SPAGLIARDI
VIA NOALE, 1
curated by Mandalaki
VIA PRIVATA GRADISCA, 18
WALTER KNOLL TEMPORARY SHOWROOM
Space design by Ippolito Fleitz Group
Flower design by Studio de Pasquale
RIMESSA DEI FIORI
VIA S. CARPOFORO, 9
ASSEMBLING THE FUTURE TOGETHER
IKEA / Life at Home Report / Annie Leibovitz
VIA TORTONA, 58
WHAT A FOOL EVER TO BE TRICKED INTO SERIOUSNESS
curated by Alberto Salvadori
FONDAZIONE ICA MILANO
VIA OROBIA, 26
GRACE PRINCE EXHIBITION
VIA NINO OXILIA, 9
ROPLASTIC PRIZE 2023
GALLERIA ROSSANA ORLANDI
VIA MATTEO BANDELLO, 14
5 alumni of the Eindhoven Design Academy,
curated by Wisse Troosters
VIA CONFALONIERI, 21
Forest&Whale / Nathan Yong / Tiffany Loy / Gabriel Tan / Viewport Studio / Studio Juju
curated by Tony Chambers and Maria Cristina Didero
WEST BASTION, FORMER CASA DEL PANE
CORSO GARIBALDI, 22
CLAY COURT CLUB
TENNIS CLUB MILANO ALBERTO BONACOSSA
VIA GIUSEPPE ARIMONDI, 15
John Pawson and Tom Dixon / Elena Salmistraro / Dan Yeffet / Studiopluz / Elisa Ossino / Paul Cocksedge
artistic direction by Jean Blanchaert
ISTITUTO DEI CIECHI
VIA VIVAIO, 7
L'IMPERO DEI SENSI
VISIONNAIRE DESIGN GALLERY
PIAZZA CAVOUR, 3
STILL NOW. THE DINNER
VIA VILLA MIRABELLO
THE SYNTAX OF MAKING
CORSO VENEZIA, 21A
VIALE VITTORIO VENETO, 30
INTO THE BLUE
CORSO COMO, 10
Niclas Wolf / Rick Owens / Henry Wilson / Draga & Aurel / Frédéric Saulou / Andres Monnier / Pietro Franceschini / Willem van Hooff / William Guillon
SAN VITTORE E 40 MARTIRI
VIALE LUCANIA, 18