Each spring, Milan Design Week sets the industry agenda for the year ahead. Packing no shortage of product launches, personalities and parties into a busy seven-day stretch, the city’s signature furniture fair (Salone del Mobile) and complementary lineup of offsite events (collectively dubbed Fuorisalone) introduce nascent colour and material trends while also prompting deeper reflection about the big overarching themes of the moment.

As we plot our itinerary for the 2024 edition of Milan Design Week, we’re already picking up on a few major standouts set to leave a lasting impression long after the festival concludes. Here are 11 events that we’re looking forward to visiting in person next week.

A Surrealist Ball
A rendering of a group of people walking along red carpeting into a circular doorway. The pavilion is designed by David Lynch and will be unveiled at Salone del Mobile 2024. Part of Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024.

The Fiera Milano Rho is never lacking for cinematic appeal thanks to the sweeping, Studio Fuksas-designed canopy sheltering the exhibition centre’s main walkway. But this year, Salone del Mobile has invited filmmaker David Lynch to bring an extra dose of drama to the furniture fair’s set design with the introduction of “Thinking Rooms,” a pair of installations in halls 5 and 7. Details are vague and intrigue is high, but we do know that red curtains will be involved — and that the spaces (designed with Piccolo Teatro di Milano and curated by Antonio Monda) are meant to reflect the interiority of the mind.

Transportive Booth Designs
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes this Salone del Mobile Kohler booth design by Yabu Pushelberg. Five vertical panels are shown with a row of washbasins in different colours mounted to each.

The booths built by major manufacturers at Salone del Mobile are often entire worlds unto themselves. Take, for instance, the Yabu Pushelberg-designed display created for this year’s showcase of all things Kohler. Inspired by the flow of water — and enhanced by projection mapping techniques — the stand seems set to blend together a spa day and an art exhibition. Notably, this year will be Kohler Co.’s first exhibiting with concrete basin maker Kast (which it acquired in 2023) under its corporate umbrella. Look for the unveiling of a new Kast collection, Holm, among Kohler’s nine other planned launches.

Shiny New Kitchens
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes EuroCucina, where Vipp's aluminum kitchen will be showcased. It's seen here in a white kitchen environment.

Another of the hallmarks of this year’s edition of Salone del Mobile is the return of EuroCucina, a special section dedicated to showcasing the latest kitchen designs. With several recent hospitality projects seeming to model themselves after commercial kitchens, it should come as no surprise that this year’s EuroCucina launches appear to be making a case for metallics in domestic environments, too. Vipp‘s new V3 is wrapped in naturally anodized aluminum and topped with a four millimetre stainless steel countertop.

A Milestone Anniversary
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes SaloneSatellite, seen here in an aerial view that shows off the different designer booths and a red planet-like orb suspended overhead.

Photo by Ludovica Mangini

The 2024 edition of Salone del Mobile marks 25 years of the SaloneSatellite exhibition, which highlights work by designers under 35. Coinciding with this year’s showcase of talented up and comers, SaloneSatellite will also mount a special retrospective at the Triennale rounding up recent work by notable alumni. The exhibition’s impact cannot be overstated. While Oskar Zieta was onstage for a recent keynote at IDS Toronto, the Polish designer credited SaloneSatellite for launching his career — and he is just one of many who owe their success to the exhibition and its visionary founder, Marva Griffin.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes Dropcity, a new architecture and research centre repurposing the tunnels of Milan's Central Station. This photo looks through an arched opening into a glowing green space filled with steel construction.

Back in 2018, architect Andrea Caputo set out to create something that he felt Milan was missing: a research institution and incubator dedicated to nurturing young talent. Since then, he has been gradually building up to the opening of an architecture and design centre dubbed Dropcity. In 2022, after a series of previous pop-ups, he unveiled the venture’s permanent home: a series of tunnels running below Milan’s Central Station. This April, Dropcity returns with a full series of programming that will include DJ sets, exhibitions and talks — and, in the spirit of experimentation and exploration, all of this will play out amidst the continuing construction of the venue itself. Stay tuned for its official opening this fall.

A Story Hour
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes Rapt Studio's installation. The rendering shown here depicts a row of arched portals with glowing displays of objects inside.

One of the recurring themes of this year’s edition of Milan Design Week is sure to be the rising influence of A.I. “Design is Language; Speak for Yourself,” an installation by Rapt Studio exhibited in Milan’s Porta Venezia district, promises to explore the contrast between personal and artificial curation. Upon first entering the installation, visitors will encounter A.I.-generated imagery that reflects today’s culture of hyper-consumption. But as one moves deeper into the exhibition, they will pass by a mix of ordinary objects and vintage pieces (sourced by Milanese marketplace IntOndo) that have been selected for the rich personal narratives attached to them — highlighting design’s deeper power to inspire a sense of human connection.

A Crystal Palace
The People, Places and Brands Set to Shake Up Milan Design Week 2024

Hot on the heels of the giant glass cloud that it mounted at EuroLuce last year, Lasvit returns with another monumental glass undertaking. Staged in the city’s Palazzo Isimbardi, the brand’s “Re/Creation” exhibition leverages Europe’s largest glass kiln to assemble a row of supersized, door-shaped fused glass panels. This installation (devised by Lasvit’s art director, Maxim Velcovsky) sets the stage for Nebula, a new collection by Claesson Koivisto Rune that encases a glowing orb inside a mushroom-shaped shell.

A Well-Lit Watering Hole
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes Caffe Populaire. The rendering here shows a Lambert and Fils light featuring a cylindrical lighting tube suspended on top of marble blocks.

Montreal lighting studio Lambert & Fils and Milan design firm DWA Design Studio stages the third edition of its pop-up aperitivo bar Caffè Populaire. While previously held as part of Alcova, this year the café spins off into its own standalone attraction, held in DWA’s own lush garden and office space. Adding to the ambience are the latest launches from the event’s two partners: Isle, a new Lambert & Fils light designed by Zoë Mowat, hangs overhead while Unico, a series of vessels designed by DWA for Pedrali, decorate the venue’s surfaces. Additional collaborators include L.A. food-art studio Ananas Ananas and Sophie Lou Jacobsen, who is providing glassware.

Two Sprawling Estate Tours
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes Alcova, depicted here in a teaser image showing a stone courtyard inside a palazzo.

Photo by Piergiorgio Sorgetti

After expanding to Miami last December, Alcova returns to its home turf for its seventh edition. True to its nomadic nature, the group exhibition has relocated to an all-new setting — in this case, spread across two different residences (Villa Borsani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi) about a ten-minute walk from one another. Established brands like A-N-D, CC-Tapis and Calico Wallpaper are all in the mix, but the exhibition is sure to introduce several new-to-the-scene talents as well. Building on the inflatable fountain that it mounted at Alcova last year, design studio Objects of Common Interest will be anchoring Villa Bagatti with a new installation that explores the symbolic role of pavilions.

An Emerging Design Ecosystem
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes Paola Lenti's new headquarters, shown here in an overhead view of a timber walkway bordered by lush plants.

Paola Lenti is in the midst of building one of Milan’s most exciting headquarters, transforming a 4,000-square-metre industrial estate into a centre of operations that fits an office and showroom in amidst gardens, greenhouses and an art gallery. In keeping with this ecosystem approach to spatial design, the brand is working with Pnat (Project Nature), a think tank of designers and plant scientists, to devise six different landscapes that promote biodiversity throughout the grounds. Indoor and outdoor products will be woven throughout, with a new collection designed by Nendo, Hana-arashi, accompanied by a solo exhibition “Nendo: Whispers of Nature” that will explore the link between humanity and nature demonstrated throughout the designer’s portfolio.

A Heartfelt Tribute
Azure's guide of what to see at Milan Design Week 2024 includes installations by the late Gaetano Pesce, shown here sitting at a table surrounded by his colourful resin designs.

Last week brought the sad news of Gaetano Pesce’s passing. Those mourning the irreverent designer have a chance to pay their respects in Milan at one of two displays of Pesce’s innovative work. “Nice to See You,” a showcase of some 30 designs (most of them previously unseen) will be held at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, while a large sculpture — “L’uomo stanco” or “The Tired Man” — can be found at Piazza Pio XI.

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