Milan Design Week - Best Immersive Installations and Concepts

Milan Design Week 2018 - Best Immersive Installations and Concepts

Each design week and global design fair holds different expectations and characteristics. Milan Design Week, the mother of all global design weeks, makes us burn with anticipation not only to discover all of the new designers, collections and pieces but to be WOWed by the conceptual environments. If there is one thing that MDW can boast, other than being the world’s largest design week, is that it is the one design week where everyone steps up their game in finding the most innovative ways to throw a party and in creating sensorial, immersive installations.

This year’s design week was no exception with a plethora of new concepts on how to showcase new collections and how designers can push the envelope in multidisciplinary ways. Thankfully we had the help of The Design Release, global design calendar, to keep track of all of our invitations and to make sure we didn't miss a thing. Being completely tête en l'air just before Milan Design Week, juggling too many things at once; The Design Release saved my ass this year with planning the best installations to visit. We have a look at a few of our favourites, from immersive sensory overload with Dimore Studio to secret design lounges and clubs by Studiopepe and India Mahdavi.


May 14, 2018

Milan Design Week

event dates
March 16-22, 2018

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"Arcadia represents a mythical land, where man finds tranquillity and peace the soul, outside the realm of civilisation. "

Our good friend, curator and director of Schloss Hollenegg for Design, Alice Stori, not only knows good design but is definitely the life of the party. There wa no way we were going to miss her installation in Milan this year. ARCADIA by Sara Ricciardi, curated by Alice Stori, was a preamble to Schloss Hollenegg for Design's annual exhibition, this year entitled Legacy, which just debued in the beginning of May. Sara interpreted her impressions of the ancient castle, bringing those inspired elements to Milan to create this immersive installation in the 5VIE district.


Club Unseen by Studio Pepe

This year one of our absolute favourite concepts and executions of that concept was that of the secret design speakeasy. We spent one of our favourite evenings of Milan Design Week in Studiopepe's hidden 'Club Unseen'. The intimate living room curated for the Milanese public and private, felt both cozy and exclusive. Furnished with bespoke pieces curated and developed by Studiopepe with other A-List design studios from Atelier de Troupe to Humble Matter; the dreamscape labyrinth of rooms had us feeling that we were on a chic Milanese film set. Every detail accounted for, we entered with a temporary tattoo sent to us beforehand in the mail and were served cocktails by white gloved mixologist-cum-performance artists, who only showed us a glimpse of their hands via a horizontal opening in the wall.


Chez Nina


photo credit_Mattialotti

When does Madame Mahdavi not deliver? India Mahdavi was invited to design the interior of private club on the floor above Nilufar Gallery, ‘Chez Nina’, named after Nilufar’s founder Nina Yashar. India’s signature geometric patterns, luxurious velvet touches and sophisticated round edges were mixed with an assortment of lamps and furniture from Nina’s personal collection. Chez Nina felt like stepping back into a luxurious 1920’s speakeasy lounge with an elegant, contemporary spin. Jam packed with the VIP of the who’s who of design; Chez Nina was definitely where you wanted to end up mingling during the Milan Design Week after hours.


Dimore Studio

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'Perfettamente Imperfetto' by Dimore Studios / Photo Credit_ Andrea Ferrari

Innovative, fully immersive sensorial design experiences which engage all six senses attract us like a moth to a-motherfucking-flame. Using that elegant metaphor, we can say that each year we can be sure that Dimore Studio's installations will be the raging wildfire of Milan. A piece of performance art all in itself; you will be sure to find an eager and impatient queue of design aficionados, snaking down the staircase of the elegant Milanese apartment building which houses Dimore Studios' headquarters.

Split between three exhibitions, differentiating between their gallery and studio work, we had the pleasure of experiencing Dimore-land three times. Our personal favourite was that of their studio showcase, Perfettamente Imperfetto. Sterile, futuristic white and metallic interiors were animated with windblown industrial plastic walls juxtaposed against floral carpets and opulent arrangements. The eerily sexy ambiance, in a 'if you have a mental hospital fantasy' way, was rendered a chic and minimalistic platform for Dimore's exquisite pieces to shine. Despite the theatrical approach, all eyes were firmly planted on sumptuous lacquered finishes, metallic detailing and organic shapes echoing a 1970's sex appeal.


Disco Gufram

On the topic of sensorial installations that get us hot and bothered, Atelier Biagetti is among the experiential exhibition elite of Milan, year after year. Combining my two main passions in life, fine art furniture design and disco; Disco Gufram, had an express pass to the top of my must-see list of exhibitions this year.
The exhibition was in fact helmed by iconic Italian Radical Design pioneer, Gufram, who called on Atelier Biagetti, Rotganzen and GGSV to design a surrealistic disco collection. Between rugs which play with 3D perception, liquified disco balls fixed to  lacquered shelving units and richly hued, laminated mirror upholstery hugging post-modern formed couches: Disco Gufram hit the nail on the head with their comprehensive disco collection.

Set in a 70's disco themed theatre, showing a performance art film on the big screen and illuminating pieces spontaneously with pink club lighting - we loved the electric energy of Disco Gufram and it's playful collection.


Life in Vogue


We all know at this point that I am the all time biggest fan of friend and girl boss designer, Sabine Marcelis. Where Sabines goes, I go. When she invited me to an exhibition she had participated in LIFE IN VOGUE set in the headquarters of VOGUE Italia’s main offices, I honestly didn’t know what to expect but knew that it was going to be good. 

To celebrate the inaugural issue of ‘casa vogue’, VOGUE Italia curated an exhibition where they invited eight contemporary designers to transform different rooms through their creative lens, using the VOGUE Italia’s staff rooms as their stage. Alongside Sabine Marcelis, designers and architects curating rooms in the exhibition included Faye Toogood, Mario Bellini, Michael Bargo, Atonio Citterio and Patricia View, Patricia Urquiola, Muller van Severin and Quinconces-dragò.

We fell in love with Faye Toogood’s warm, earthy living room full of organic rounded edges and a rich all-neutral color-palette. On the total opposite side of the spectrum, we felt in our element in Sabine’s rich citrus room, furnished with her iconic VOIE Lamp and rounded renditions of her playful resin Candy Cubes. We loved exploring the universe of each vastly different designer... that is until they kicked us out for staying a little bit longer than we were supposed to… 


Nilufar Depot: Lina Bo Bardi

This was our first year experiencing the magnitude of Nilufar Depot. From it's main floor showcasing a retrospective of iconic Brazilian Modernist-Designer Lina Bo Bardi, to the multi levels of once factory space furnished with mini vignettes showcasing the best of design throughout the ages - we were like kids in a candy store.

Nina Yashar, curator and founder of Nilufar Depot and Gallery’s love affair with the work of Italian-born Brazilain based architect and designer, Lina Bo Bardi, started 5 years ago after a trip to São Paulo. According to Yashar, the work of Bo Bardi laid the foundations for modern Brazilian design. ‘They brought a different point of view, but at the same time, they let themselves be infected by what they found in Brazil, especially Bo Bardi, who was fascinated by the local vernacular culture.’ In the past three years, Yashar has amassed a collection of 21 pieces by Lina. We fully understand Nina’s obsession with the mother of Brazilian modernism’s work; from the elegant and contemporary use of local Brazilian wood, soulful artistry and clean lines and textures.


The Diner by David Rockwell x Surface Magazine

To celebrate it’s 25th anniversary, Surface Magazine teamed up with legendary American architect, David Rockwell , to explore the nuances of American design by reimagining a staple of American culture - the roadside Diner. The concept was explored, coast to coast, by drawing inspiration from the quintessential Roadside Diner, East Coast Luncheonette, the Midwest and the West Coast Diner. Appropriately named, The Diner, we found ourselves eating mini burgers under the blue glow of neon signage, with an eclectic mix of characters from the design community coming together and mixing freely. It was refreshing to socialise in a fun, imaginative space which didn’t take itself too seriously; the crowd that evening followed suit and even the most unlikely of guests mingled, forging an actual diverse community for an evening.


'Terra' by Garance Vallée

Photo Credit_ Mattialotti

We have been following the exploding career of fellow Paris-based creative, Garance Vallée, from the very beginning. We couldn’t have been more excited to hear that she would be curating a space at Martina Gamboni’s offices this year.

Garance grew up in a home of successful French fine artists, was formally trained as an architect, found first fame through her romantic line illustrations and now this multidisciplinary wunderkind had the opportunity to showcase all of her talents in every detail of this immersive environment. Terra was an installation created around the concept of a symbolic space, a meeting room, representing man and his experience of matter. Through the materials of concrete, plaster, clay and mineral pigments, Garance played with the perception of the various layers of Mother Earth through a series of wall paintings, furniture and objects.

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Check out what else we discovered during Milan Design Week 2018...