If you’ve ever travelled to
Milan drew a record crowd with some 450,000 people in attendance this year. With over 2,000 exhibitors at the Furniture Fair, and around 1,200 satellite events scattered around the city, how can one possibly answer this seemingly harmless little question? Awesome? Epic? Intense? Overwhelming? A combination of sheer joy and intense moments of frustration? The world’s premier design event is all that and so much more, and I would argue that one’s state of mind plays a pivotal role in how the week is experienced and perceived. Our own expectations, how we engage with the week — i.e. travel at a leisurely pace with a bunch of friends, versus following a carefully planned schedule that leaves little to chance — this has everything to do with how Milan will feel for us.
As for me, I’d go as far as to say this was the most relaxed I’ve been in years, despite the fact our schedule reached an all-time peak of Olympic gold standard variety. And as a result, I’ve probably enjoyed myself more than I have in the past. But how can this be? I put it down to OCD levels of preparation. It sounds like the most unexciting game plan, but this approach ensured I was able to move through the week with grace and not experience perpetual overwhelm and mini-meltdowns. It only took me 9 years, but I can officially say I’ve totally nailed it, and worked out how to tackle Milan like a seasoned pro!
Anyway, for me, 2018 will stick in my mind as the year of the queues. Yes – queues. Not the year that we finally started to move on from our obsession with Millennial Pink, or that we saw an even stronger uptake of traditional crafts. Nor was it the concept of technology being presented experientially and designed much like a product itself. No, I said queues, dammit! Perhaps it was the unseasonably warm weather that drew the unprecedented crowds, or maybe it’s the world’s increased appetite for contemporary design combined with the collective accessibility of Milan through social media and other digital channels. Whatever the reason, queues were long and vicious, and they were everywhere — from entries to exhibitions in town to stands at the Furniture Fair.
There were many, many, many moments I truly cherish from this year, like our visit to Villa Borsani — which architect Osvaldo Borsani built for his twin brother and Tecno co-founder in 1943; Studiopepe’s ‘Club Unseen’ which was probably the coolest event in Milan this year; visit to the SIX Gallery run by the gorgeous and talented young couple Fanny Bauer Grung and David Lopez Quincoces; Hermès show-stopping spectacle at museum La Permanente; SONY’s Hidden Senses which made me cry like a child, etc… I mean, I really could keep going on and on, until the break of dawn. I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned for more of #MILANTRACE2018, or
Baci, Mama Yellowtrace xx
Team Yellowtrace travelled to Milan courtesy of Cathay Pacific, who fly to Italy several times each week. Cathay’s great connections from Australia allow getting from Sydney to Milan in under 24 hours, including transit times. For more information visit
The previously inaccessible to the public, Villa Borsani opened for the first time. Amongst some of the most cherished experiences for me this year has been our visit to Villa Borsani — which architect Osvaldo Borsani built for his twin brother and Tecno co-founder Fulgenzio in 1943. More to come soon.
Villa Borsani had been unoccupied for 10 years and never before opened to the public, so the family invited curator Ambra Medda to fill it with flowers, artworks, and other everyday objects bringing vibrancy and soulfulness to the previously still and stale home. More to come soon.
Left: Chatting to trend forecaster Lee Edelkoort in front of her installation for Google at Rossana Orlandi. Lee happens to be the first official ‘participant’ I spoke to at Milan Design Week 2018, and this conversation certainly set the tone for what was going to be a great week. Right: Google installation at Rossana Orlandi.
ANOTHERVIEW at Rossana Orlandi’s courtyard – an ongoing project that sits at the intersection of product design and video art.
Left: Newly launched TGV lamp by Ionna Vautrin for Moustache. Right: I am so sorry, but have no idea who’s light this is. Can you help?
Halo light by Studio Mandalaki at Rossana Orlandi.
Rossana Orlandi herself and some very cool sculptures and objects scattered throughout the courtyard and the garden, which opened up at the back of the gallery for the first time this year, making room for a series of design talks.
Chatting with the lovely and talented Beirut-based Nada Debs. Nada’s marquetry pieces are out of this world. Right: Yamakawa Rattan from Tokyo.
Wonderful to see the PET Lamp Ramingining project at Rossana Orladni. Only two of these lamps were ever made by Alvaro Catalán de Ocón in collaboration with Indigenous Australian weavers. The other lamp was exhibited at part of NGV Triennial in Melbourne, which we’ve
Left: Dreamy ceiling moment at Lexus Design Event 2018 – Limitless Co-Existence by Japanese architect Sota Ichikawa of dNA (doubleNegatives Architecture). Right: Arcadia by Sara Ricciardi, curated by Alice Stori Liechtenstein and presented by Schloss Hollenegg for Design.
Local Milan No.3 presented by LOCAL DESIGN & curated by Emma Elizabeth. The exhibition brought together the work of 26 Australian designers, becoming the largest independent showcase of Australian design in Milan to date. Amazing! Pieces by Tom Skeehan (arcmahir & lights); Adam Goodrum & Arthur Seigur (marquetry cabinet); Nicholas Fuller (screen).
Local Milan No.3. Left: Fred Ganim (coffee table in foreground); Jon Goulder for Spence & Lyda (innate chair & side table); Nicholas Fuller (floor lamp); HAVA Studio (both wall mirrors); Jamie Durie (pedestal dining table). Right: Adam Cornish (stools); Charles Wilson (armchair); Ross Gardam (coffee table in foreground).
Local Milan No.3. Left: Reflecting on the situation in Hava Studio’s mirror. Middle: Daniel Emma (chair, rug & vase). Right: Henry Wilson, probably in the middle of checking Instagram.
Local Milan No.3. Left: Wall lights by Christopher Boots: Right: Tom Fereday (chair), Adam Cornish (stools); Kate Banazi (hyper colour screens).
Left: ACT III collection by Apparatus, inspired by Creative Director Gabriel Hendifar’s Persian heritage. Right: The incredibly beautiful lighting collection ‘Super Natural Daydream’ by Giopato&Coombes.
Paris-based Garnier & Linker’s debut in Milan was small but exceptionally beautiful.
Vegan Design – Or the Art of Reduction was a solo show of Israeli designer Erez Nevi Pana at Garage Sanremo, curated by Maria Cristina Didero and produced by 5vie. The Eindhoven Design Academy graduate showcased a unique approach to the world of design: with integrity and without guilt.
Vogue Italia’s Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti invited eight internationally acclaimed designers to develop the Editorial Staff rooms and décor in their own inimitable styles. “Life in Vogue” was a reflection on the way we live in the contemporary office today. Left: Vogue Talents Office by Muller Van Severen. Right: Editor-in-Chief’s own office by Faye Toogood.
“Life in Vogue”. Left: The Creative Director’s Office by Sabine Marcelis. Right: The Current Affairs Office by Patricia Urquiola.
“Life in Vogue”. Staff Meeting Room by Quinconces–Dragò.
Little moment on board Tram Corallo. Cristina Celestino reimagined a historic 1928 Milan streetcar into a travelling salon that circulated the Brera district.
Studiopepe’s Club Unseen was, for my money, the coolest event in Milan this year. More to come soon.
Chatting to the super talented Studiopepe’s Arianna Lelli Mami at Club Unseen. More to come soon.
Oki Sato of Nendo casually hanging at his exhibition Forms of Moment at Superstudio in Tortona, as though his studio hadn’t just turned around 1,239 projects for Milan Design Week. Freak. Right: Detail of one of Nendo’s mind-mending tables at Forms of Moment. My brain hurts.
Nendo’s sand clocks dubbed Variations of Time at the Forms of Moment exhibition.
any/ everyWHERE installation by Neri&Hu for Stellar Works at Tortona. On the left is the newly launched Industry Dining Armchair also by Neri&Hu.
“Hidden Senses” by Sony Design was a huge highlight of the week. This multisensorial experience unfolded over several rooms, visualising an enriched lifestyle for a new tomorrow. The exhibition showed possible interactions between people, objects and spaces, building on the fact that technology is part of our daily life. Left: Shadows cast by two pieces of paper are not real. Right: Colour on the wallplates change in reponse to person’s movement, allowing an individual to paint them in different colours by simply running their hands through the air. Magic.
“Hidden Senses” by Sony Design. Wall camera turns an image into an instant sketch which projects like an artwork on the wall.
“Hidden Senses” by Sony Design. Interactive artwork can be changed, turned, zoomed into by simply stepping towards the photo etc. So cool. I was so impressed and so excited at this show, I literally cried like a child.
Dutch collective Envisions for FINSA continued the excellent exploration into the possibilities of solid surface materials in design.
Boffi Showroom on Via Solferino, which now incorporates beautiful furniture form De Padova.
Boffi Showroom on Via Solferino, which now incorporates beautiful furniture form De Padova.
DIMOREGALLERY presented Transfer, an installation presented inside tents furnished with historical pieces, and scenes from everyday life.
Entry to DIMORESTUDIO apartment.
DIMORESTUDIO’s Progetto Non Finito, which this year honoures the theme Perfettamente Imperfetto (Perfectly Imperfect), inspired by the Italian middle class of the 60s and 70s.
Left: Brodie Neill’s Made in Ratio presented Focus – collection of four new designs shown alongside some of the brand’s most-recognised works. In this image are Focus coffee table and Rotor stool/ side table from the new collection.
Blocky chairs by Jo Nagasaka for Really and Kvadrat.
Vitra’s “Typecasting” was an assembly of iconic, forgotten and new Vitra characters which took place in the former sports arena at La Pelota. Curated by Austrian-born, Paris-based multidisciplinary designer Robert Stadler, Typecasting brought together some 200 objects, drawing on the extensive Vitra archives of classics, prototypes, special editions and future visions.
Typecasting placed a central focus on the social function of furniture in society – and of chairs in particular. Along with their obvious practical use as seating, chairs have historically had an additional representative function: the selection of a specific chair is also a personal act of “image cultivation”.
Lee Broom’s Observatory sees the return of British designer’s focus to lighting. Left: Orion modular tube lights with opaque and solid polished gold spheres. Right: Aurora scalable chandeliers of infinite possibilities.
BassamFellows presented ‘Subtle Deluxe’ furniture collection, inspired by the sinuous, deceptive simplicity of Mies Van der Rohe’s modernist principle of ‘Less is More’.
Right: ‘Subtle Deluxe’ coincides with the launch of BassamFellows’ new range of textiles and transitional furniture for indoor/outdoor.
Left: Hem Apartment in Brera. Middle: Dana Tomic Hughes LOLing and blending in with the palazzo. Right: Gucci Wall in Brera, because, well… Gucci.
Left: At Wallpaper handmade, Australian designer David Caon presented ‘Ceremony’ in collaboration with Christopher Farr – an homage to the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, with a nod to the social aspects of Italian aperitivo. Right: Also at Wallpaper, British brand PINCH presented two new cabinets alongside Achilles, Avery & Emil – their latest dining story shown here.
Left: Breath III by London-based Based Upon is a sculptural piece which recreates ancient rocks, featuring lighting that responds to the viewer’s presence. Amazing! Right: The most fun (and most inappropriate dance moves busted by yours truly) award goes to Disco Gufram. Gufram owner Charley Vezza’s conceptualised a discotheque which celebrated the new pieces created for the brand by Italian studio Atelier Biagetti (Alberto Biagetti & Laura Baldassari), Dutch studio ROTGANZEN (Robin Stam & Joeri Horstink) and French studio GGSV (Gaëlle Gabillet & Stéphane Villard).
High-end lighting brand Masiero presented new collections in a seductive space that was once a printing house.
Under the vaults of Ventura Centrale, Baars and Bloemhoff returned with ‘Transitions III: Experimental Inventiveness’, with six leading Dutch design studios who worked their magic to transform with the company’s extensive materials collection.
Baars and Bloemhoff’s ‘Transitions III’ features the work by Bart Joachim van Uden, Christian Heikoop, Floris Wubben, Job van der Berg, Mae Engelgeer and Studio Truly Truly. So, so, sooooo good man!
Left: Eileen Fisher’s DesignWork presented WASTE NO MORE – an exhibition curated by Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano, which critiqued consumption and shone a light on the emerging circular economy. Right: Fun installation by HARU Japanese Washi tape under the Vaults of Milan’s train station at Ventura Centrale.
Left: One of the interactive characters from Stephan Hütlemann’s mesmerising installation ‘Giants With Dwarfs’ for Switzerland’s oldest chair and table manufacturer Horgenglarus. Right: A moving installation by Antonio Aricò for Editamateria furniture brand called ‘Una Stanza’ (A Room).
PARADIGM Exhibition by Fabrica in collaboration with Pierre Frey – a visual exploration of basic human needs questioning the power of the image in contemporary design.
Buro Belén and Sun + at ALCOVA – a series of wearables designed to protect people from the sun’s harmful rays.
Also at ALCOVA, Bloc Studios presented a series of objects created in collaboration with Valentina Cameranesi and Nick Ross, and design studio Objects of Common Interest. Another one of this week’s major highlights.
Chatting to the clever and talented Sara Ferron Cima of Bloc Studios about boobie vases by Valentina Cameranesi.
Materia Mater by Architetti Artigiani Anonimi – collection of furniture made from terracotta that emulates architectural systems on a smaller scale, inspired by the Amalfi coast.
Left: Elemental cabinet by the recent Eindhoven-graduate Kostas Lambridis. This monumental piece is inspired by the 18th-century Badminton cabinet that twice set the record for the most expensive piece of furniture ever sold. Right: A little random moment at ALCOVA of two guys playing chess – presumably a performance piece of sorts as both the sounds of their movements and the chess timer were amplified so they could be heard throughout the space. Only in Milan.
Lunar, Orbit and Solar Chairs by Slovenian-Born, London-based designer Lara Bohinc of Bohinc Studio.
Georgian duo ROOMS celebrated 10 years with a solo show which brought together existing pieces and new work, like the Terracotta Totems/ Candleholders on the left and Alchemy Tables on the back right.
Left: 3D Print Tech Company Aectual made a beautiful in Milan with an exhibition at Ventura Future in collaboration with DUS architects, showcasing sustainably produced bespoke 3D printed Floors with terrazzo infill. Right: Super cool pieces by REM atelier at Ventura Future.
Left: Canadian brand ANDlight. Right: Russian studio Supaform’s fun installation called DISUSED.
New pieces from Editions Milano left to right – Victoria Lights by Bethan Gray, tables by Patricia Urquiola and Triangoli Marble Vessels by david/nicolas for Editions Milano.
Left: HAWA Beirut collection by Richard Yasmine. Right: Lebone lamp in Brass by Inès Bressand for Mabeo.
Decò pendant by Federica Biasi; Dome lamp by Valerio Sommella, Minima armchair by Denis Guidone and Gatsby scrren by Federica Biasi for Mingardo.
Left: Montreal-based brothers in law, Gabriel Kakon and Scott Richler of GABRIEL SCOTT installed their new lights inside Milan’s institution Bar Basso, renowned as the hub for late-night shenanigans during the design week. Right: Futuraforma collection by Marcante-Testa for SEM Spotti Edizioni Milano.
Left: Pivot by Giacomo Moor and Right: Check collection by Elisa Ossino for SEM Spotti Edizioni Milano.
Calico Wallpaper and Lindsey Adelman presented Beyond the Deep – a collaborative exhibition that immersed visitors in an aquatic-inspired world of alchemy and decay. The New York-based brand debuted Oceania murals and Drop Lighting respectively.
Chatting to the gorgeous Lindsey Adelman.
In what was easily the week’s most show stopping spectacle, Hermès launched the latest homewares collection inside Milan’s La Permanente art museum. The space was transformed with a series of towering pavilions clad in more than 150,000 handmade Moroccan zellige tiles that gave the sense akin to being under water.