say hi to_ Milan Design Week 2017
So this was the first year that I was actually able to make the journey to the world's yearly design Mecca that is Milan Design Week. As we get older we get wiser and I try more and more, in every department of my life, to live without expectations...
So I had my Milan ticket booked for months, yet I made no plans, had no expectations, made no appointments and wanted to see what would unfold once my feet touched down in Italy. Let me just say I could not have planned (or not planned) it better. I had a week full of of new friendships, overload of new up and coming designer discoveries, serendipitous meetings with so many from the design community face-to-face for the first time, a little bit of mischief and a belly absolutely stuffed with incredible italian food and wine all week long. I can not even remember a trip where I had more fun (wasn't this supposed to be a 'work' trip guys?). I am already counting down the seconds until next year. The second I got back to Paris the first thing I did was ask myself, but how do we make that happen more than one time per year?! I've got the scoop of how we can all keep the design party, vacation and discoveries going this summer (stay tuned for follow up article later this week....!)
Come take a look at my week in Milan with design partners in crime, Julia and Sophia Haney-Montanez. Round-up of my favourite design gem finds coming later this week!
One of the three of our iPhones before they died from overuse
So a little backstory, Julia Haney-Montanez who is the producer of the Architectural Digest MADE show in New York City, and I have been talking for the past few years via e-mail and instagram but never actually had the opportunity to meet face to face. I told her I was planning to come to Milan but wasn't sure where I was planning to stay yet and she invited me to come stay with her and her sister Sophia, Account Manager at NES Creative in their AirBnB. Needless to say, in 0-30 seconds upon my arrival in Milan we were instant best friends.
Julia being the production and design event wiz that she is, had her own map made up neighbourhood to neighbourhood, with all of our must see stops - as we were both on the hunt for the brightest up and coming talent. We decided to skip the actual Salone del Mobile this year and still did not have enough time to see everything with all of the off site events!
Lee Broom at Ventura Centrale
Salviati at Ventura Centrale
We then stopped off at our friends at NES' homebase, and one of my personal all time favourite installations in Milan (be sure to see my round up later this week) Apparatus Studio's installation in the 5vie district with their latest work. It was not only so stunning with an incredible ambiance (but who would have expected less, really?) but had a cozy, cool atmosphere with the beautiful hosts/designers, Jeremy and Gabriel to show us around once we arrived.
Apparatus Studio in the 5vie District
Who in Milan has better taste than Madame Rossana Orlandi? We popped over at the end of the day to have a drink and see what she had curated this year. The first thing to catch my attention was Germans Ermic's show stopping glass ombré chair in the Italian courtyard. I nearly passed out and tried to stuff it in my handbag, when I then spotted the real Germans in the flesh and figured dragging him to our table for a drink might be a better idea.
Fernando Mastrangelo's set up was nothing short of breath taking (as usual) and of course merited a photo; pretending that this was a scene from my dream Italian Villa.
Julia and I searched far and wide for the perfect restaurant. After about an hour of wandering, in a neighbourhood without many places to eat, we saw a light, some ivy and picnic table clothed tables. "Ok as long as it is actually Italian food, we eat there ok??".
This little Italian hole in the wall was like a mirage in the desert. Ok, so it was not outfitted by Dimore Studios or anything but... HOLY SH*! the food was SO good!! We arrived with a romantic accordion song, 4 plates full of garlic bread and the best damn gnocchi I have ever had. Oh yeah.. even after 7.5 years in Europe I apparently didn't know that a litre of wine was A LOT (it was only 10 euros, how could I have known it was enough for four?)
Afterwards, Julia had plans to show me -the- Bar Basso. Which is apparently a normal unassuming bar, where everyone who is in Milan for Design Week happens to congregate every night. I am so happy to have met so many designers in this sea of people. I know all of your furniture from your websites and from posting on instagram - but finally got to meet so many of you in the flesh! On the way we crashed a few fashion parties under the alias' of Mahogany and Oprah. Free Champagne? Perchè no?
Los Sorellas Haney-Montanez
I'm not going to lie we ended up talking and eating all day and I didn't take any pictures that were not in an instagram story that have since disappeared.
In that now long gone instagram story you would have seen that we went to the Apartmento x Loewe Party where we made some new friends. One of these new friends, Julian Bedel, founder of Fueguia 1833 perfumes invited Julia and I to his perfume laboratory nearby.
We were pretty much like little kids in a candy store running around his beautiful showroom, adding layer upon layer of scents on our wrists. Not only was he a knowledgable host telling us all about the science behind these organic scents, but he was generous enough to let us have a little souvenir of our 3 favourites. I'm still dousing myself in them every morning, one scent for each mood! I don't remember the real names of my favourite scents, because we did spent the night joking around and re-naming them, but I promise you they will stop you in your tracks and you can find a unique signature scent of your own with no additives. I can't recommend it enough. As a girl who hates to share a scent, there are enough unique and powerful options here to find something you know that no one else will have.
IV. Ventura Lambrate
We ventured to a little town on the outskirts of Milan, Lambrate, which was dominated by up and coming designers from all over the world. I discovered so many new talents and had the chance to meet a few people whom I only knew through instagram, such as the absolutely sweetest - Eny Lee Parker and super talented Studio Thier & van Daalen.
I absolutely loved discovering the - oh so talented and beautiful - Amanda Lilholt's chic and contemporary collection, as well as the stellar Norwegian showcase which had the most beautiful color story to showcase all of their talent's pieces.
Decked out in disco pants ready for Marni
Making iPhone vanity art together with Nora Wolf at Marni
After a couple hundred trips to the IKEA meatball food truck later, Julia and I headed back to Milan to gussy up for a girls night out.
We popped by the Marni party where we got lots of coloured sand in, on and around our shoes and then scurried off to have dinner with the beautiful power couple Elizabeth and Natalie of NES Creative, Sophia and Leslie Sun. (If you haven't guessed already by this point, I am a human garbage disposal for Italian food and wine - no shame.)
It was so much fun to finally meet the babes behind NES, although we feel like after all of our e-mails over the past year or two we already knew each other, so fast friends. It was a total night of girlboss creative chats, ideas and lots of laughing in the perfect little Italian bistro.
Girls night. (from left to right) Julia Haney-Montanez, Kristen de la Vallière, Sophia Haney-Montanez, Natalie Shirinian of NES Creative, Elizabeth Baudouin of NES Creative, Leslie Sun
V. Wallpaper, LV, Dimore and Bloc Studios
We started the day full of energy and super productively, popping over to Wallpaper, which always puts on a great exhibition with bespoke commissioned exhibits. There was a beautiful pink, tropical installation which of course was the perfect place take a barrage of selfies. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the people sitting on it uncomfortable enough to leave and free it up. Trust me I tried to stand freakishly close to them, for a little bit too long - but Europeans don't mind sharing personal space as much as us americans apparently....
Julia and I roaming Milan
I don't even have words for what we experienced at Dimore Studios. I was completely and utterly blown away. From the Romy Schnieder clip from l'Enfer with the ambient and hypnotic Elvis Presley cover, heavy and sensual scent filling all rooms to set the scene for their blush and metal masterpieces. This was hands down the most impressive thing that I saw during Milan Design Week and was certainly worth the wait up the stairwell. I only wish I had the chance to visit it sans all of Milan to really have the full experience.
After lunch we decided to split up to cover more ground; Julia heading over to Nendo and I wanted to see Bloc Studios x Sabine Marcelis x Carl Kleiner's collaboration and installation on the other side of town. I had promised Sara of Bloc Studios I would stop by and I was really looking forward to meeting her finally in person.
Well... Apparently I was instagramming a little bit TOO much because I got a nice little text message from my service provider telling me they were cutting me off before I ran my roaming bill up any higher. That was pretty nice of them actually, but needless to say I never realised how dependent on a functioning google maps I was.
A few hours later I was totally lost. I stopped in three cafes asking for wifi in broken Italian, to be told 'si' and then once I received my coffee to be told that the wifi was not working. So imagine me, internetless, lost and alone in Milan - 4 expressos deep. Pretty frantic and nervous to say the least (although couldn't have been lost in a more beautiful setting).
I finally somehow got ahold of Sara and got to the top of an unassuming apartment building to see one of the most beautiful exhibitions in Milan, with the most beautiful sunset. I hungout and chatted with the ever so cool Sara about how the collaboration came about and took a moment to take in the beautiful skyline at dusk.
Bloc Studios x Sabine Marcelis x Carl Kleiner
VI. Last Day - Tom Dixon Theater and Clerici Auction
The busy week of design and champagne fuelled evenings with new design friends, is starting to come to a close and Julia and I split up for the day to hit our last must-sees.
As I misunderstood and thought there was a Saturday Night Fever party chez Tom Dixon Saturday night and thought I had saved the best for last (I appropriately packed my shiny green disco pants and all) I raced to meet him for lunch to be able to catch up before he jetted back to London.
He gave me a quick, but grand tour of his Theater complex, which was room after room of different themed exhibitions and installations. I of course loved his chandeliers; which turn from matte black when off, to translucent gray gems when illuminated and his collaboration on an IKEA hack for a couch cover which was almost as fluffy as my persian cat Otto.
After lunch I went to meet up with Sabine Marcelis over at Atelier Clerici for the design auction that they were hosting including her and a few more of my favourites work. I wished I could bid, because everything was just so beautiful, but being on the strict budget that I was - I could only pretend I was bidding millions on Sabine's talisman. Sigh, one day, one day.
I did catch my buddy Germans Ermics taking a little power nap during the auction - GOTCHA Germy!!!
Envisions at Atelier Clerici
A very good friend of mine, Fredrika, the only native Milan-er in the group came and joined us at the end of the auction. She was our guide bringing our little Northern European group of Sabine Marcelis (and co), Fredrik Paulsen, Kristoffer Sundin and I to a traditional Italian restaurant.
Fast forward through the night and we end up at some party where we have Mozzarella ice cream and tequila cocktails in some type of water bottle. Weird, I know. Don't ask. Needless to say after an afternoon of champagne at the auction, wine at dinner and these weird tequila drinks we were feeling pretty happy.
Kristoffer Sundin aka Jude Law's Brother, me and some Italian guy whose birthday we crashed
On our way to finish up the night at Bar Basso and say good bye to all of our new friends made, I dragged my taxi buddy Kristoffer Sundin aka Swedish Jude Law into a restaurant so I could use the bathroom.
Well. It is all a bit blurry now but I do vaguely remember telling this birthday party of Italian people in the restaurant that Kristoffer was actually Jude Law's brother aaaand we ended with the party giving us some cake, a few people wanting to take selfies with us and they even gave us a bottle of wine for the road. Like I said, all a bit blurry but what can I say - I was feeling sassy after the water bottle tequila drinks. We finally made it to Bar Basso and I immediately ghosted and went home.
The next morning we had a last expresso and girly gossip session before I had to head off to the airport. I really felt like I was leaving two really good friends, even though we had only just met that week.. but I was excited knowing that each design week and future events will only get better and better seeing familiar faces and friends. I not only got to discover new designer's work, but got to make lasting friendships with really cool, down to earth people from all over the world.
After missing my flight (Which Alitalia rebooked for me free of charge and put me in business class - had to give them some love for that!), I had the whole day to start planning my summer. After such a crazy and fun week, Disney World meets Berghain for design nerds, I started to think - how can we keep this design party and the creative conversations and brainstorming going this summer...? And then it hit me...
...to be continued in my article 'What to do Post Milan' later this week...