Part TRAVEL JOURNAL and part LIFESTYLE BLOG, this site captures DESIGN, CULTURE, CUISINE and STYLE as seen through the eyes of ALI SWISHER.

The Design-Lover's Guide to Salone del Mobile.Milano

The Design-Lover's Guide to Salone del Mobile.Milano

Salone del Mobile (a.k.a. the Milan Furniture Fair) is the biggest design show in the world, showcasing the highest caliber of talent as it applies to art, interiors, furnishings and design thinking. Needless to say, it’s heaven for the design-obsessed — and next week, I’m attending for the first time. Cue high-pitched squeal of excitement.

However, Salone is so much more than a trade fair. Clued-in attendees like to focus on the happenings outside the pavilions and explore the events, showroom presentations and pop-ups that emerge during Design Week in the various design districts around the city. This is known as Fuorisalone. Collaborations between design firms, publications, restaurants, furniture companies and even tech and fashion brands create a complete urban regeneration of the city. And the anarchic Fuorisalone isn’t run by anyone or anything — it arises organically and sweeps the city of Milan.

In preparation for my trip, I asked designer friends, locals and repeat attendees for the inside scoop. So without further ado, here are the names to know, places to see and where to eat, drink and play at Milan Design Week.


Last year’s Hermès Maison pop-up.  image source: Hermès

Last year’s Hermès Maison pop-up. image source: Hermès

  • AQUA: Leonardo’s vision - 500 years after his death, Milan is celebrating Leonardo Da Vinci’s work and legacy to the art of design. This site-specific experience seems to be high on everyone’s list. More details here. | Conca dell’Incoronata via S. Marco

  • Google: A Space for Being - This is a study of neuroaesthetics and an exploration by Google in collaboration with John Hopkins University, Muuto and Reddymade on how design impacts our emotions and well-being. Sounds rad. | via Achille Maiocchi 7

  • Living Divani: Piero Lissoni sets up a maze of mirrors in the historical spaces of Palazzo Crivelli. | via Pontaccio 12

  • Guiltlessplastic - an exhibition by Rossana Orlandi showcasing unique pieces made entirely of recycled plastic by world-renowned designers. | Railway Pavillion, Museo Scienza e Technologia

  • Wallpaper* Handmade - this exhibit is brought to life by some of the “finest creative talents and rising stars with the most outstanding makers and manufacturers” . More details here. | via San Gregorio 29

  • Workplace 3.0 - discover experimental design in the workplace. Themes: Liquid SpacePrivacySmart Office, and Worker centered design.

  • EuroLuce - The International Lighting Exhibition is held across four pavillions (9-11 and 13-15).

  • Studio davidpompa - a mexican lighting designer that came highly recommended. Euroluce stand G19 Hall 13

  • DimoreStudio - arguably one of the coolest design firms in Milan, it’s always an absolute must to stop by their Via Solferino studio. However, this year, everyone is talking about their pop-up presenting their new brand, DimoreMilano. | Via Pietro Mascgagni 8

  • Studio Pepe - This year’s showcase is Les Arcanistes. | via Garofalo 24, Milano

  • Versace Home - the Versace villa will be open for a special exhibition in collaboration with interior designer Sasha Bikoff and artist Andy Dixon.

  • House of Finn Juhl - Perfect Darkness in the Brera Design District. | via Solferino 11, 3rd floor

  • Brera Design Apartment - a must-see in La Brera. This year’s design lead is Cristina Celestino. | Via Palermo 1

  • An Extraordinary World by Marc Ange - high on my list. Showing at the Palazzo Cusani, a 17th century palace in the heart of the Brera Design district. | via Brera 15

  • Hermès Maison - exhibiting at La Pelota

  • Sam Baron Goes to The Cloister - this vintage store will be showcasing a moodbaord of flowerish ornaments. A good opportunity to shop and swoon. | via Valpetrosa 5

  • Interlude by Apparatus - love this brand’s aesthetic. Preview a collection of limited work. Open hours here. | via Santa Marta 14

Pro-tip: Fuorisalone is massive and going all over the city just isn’t feasible. Pick a district or prioritize something you’re dying to see and plan on exploring all the pop-ups in that area. I’m hoping to spend a day in Brera and figure out the rest. Full list of Brera events here.

Photo credits from left to right: Apparatus; Vogue Italia offices reimagined by Faye Toogood for Salone 2018, photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani via Vogue Italia.

Click here for a complete guide and map to the must-visit design districts of Fuorisalone.


carlo e camilla -  image source: wallpaper

carlo e camilla - image source: wallpaper

  • Terraza Triennale - new. trendy. stunning views.

  • BistRO Aimo e Nadia - founded by an influential Milanese gallerist. Interiors done in collaboration with Etro. Menu by a Michelin-star chef. Need I say more?

  • Fioraio Bianchi Caffe - a flower shop and restaurant serving contemporary Italian cuisine.

  • Carlo e Camilla - housed in a defunct sawmill, this stunning restaurant features communal dining in an industrial setting and has been featured in several design publications. Raw concrete and exposed brick are the perfect canvas for the giant antique crystal chandeliers, Richard Ginori tableware and Cappellini chairs.

  • Ceresio 7 - rooftop pool + craft cocktails and food = a total scene.

  • Bvlgari - the ultra-chic, ultra-famous hotel is an institution in Milan. The recently added garden restaurant, designed by landscape architect Sophie Agata Ambroise, is perfect for afternoon tea or an Aperol Spritz.

  • Mercante - Lunch spot. | via Cesare Cantù, 7

  • LùBar - Open all day. Pink and palms galore. Good for breakfast or lunch. | via Palestro, 16

  • Marchesi - no trip to Italy is complete without a visit to a pasticceria. Plus, this one is owned by Prada. | Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

  • Bar Basso - time for a cocktail. | via Plinio, 39

Photo credits from left to right: Bulgari Hotel garden lounge via Bulgari; Lùbar, image via Vogue


image source: prada group

image source: prada group

  • Fondazione Prada - This is a must. A contemporary art museum founded by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli located in the Largo Isarco industrial complex. Also, it’s housed in a former gin distillery — I just love when that happens. | Largo Isarco, 2

  • Pinacoteca Di Brera - home to some of the greatest Italian masterpieces of all time. | via Brera, 28

  • Piazza Duomo - when in Milan. Or avoid the crowds and take it all in over an Aperol Spritz at Terraza Aperol just across the way. | via Ugo Foscolo, 1

  • The Achille Castiglioni Studio Museum - check out the work, including drawings and protoypes, of one Italy’s greatest postwar designers. Tours are often given by Castiglioni’s family. | Piazza Castello, 27

  • 10 Corso Como - well-known Italian concept story featuring a tea room, luxury boutique, bookstore and gallery. | 10 Corso Como

  • Milan’s secret gardens - escape the madness and find some tranquility in the city’s hidden gardens, such as Santa Maria delle Grazie, the 15th-century church and convent - and home to Leonardo’s Last Supper. Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2

  • And while you’re in the neighborhood… squeeze in a trip to Lake Como

Genius, I know. One of the girls in our group came up with this idea. Spending a few days relaxing, exploring and aperol-spritzing your way through the picturesque towns of Lake Como — prior to the madness of Salone — is a good idea 100% of the time.

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