This year brands and designers are embracing the true raison d’être of Milan; no, not just the furniture, the networking. Bar Basso may have some stiff competition with a host of dining and club pop-ups set to liven up the week, not least the Toilet Paper and Lavazza bar at Wallpaper* Handmade (but more of that later). I’m looking forward to a pit stop sampling macarons at Swarovski’s Daniel’s café in the Austrian brand’s immersive Swarovski Palazzo installation in the courtyard of Palazzo Serbelloni. Also bringing an Americana flavour to Milan is David Rockwell’s The Diner, in the vaults under Milano Centrale station. And I am intrigued to be dining at Nonostante Marras, the showroom of fashion designer and artist Antonio Marras, who has transformed his space for Salone, complete with Matthew McCormick lighting.
As for the after party, Chez Nina has a real ring to it. Queen of colour India Mahdavi brings her uplifting aesthetic to Nina Yashar’s Nilufar Gallery, styling a private members club that will be open for three nights only.
I’ll be dropping in on London-based designers to see their new work. Lee ‘showman’ Broom is always a must-see; expect new stellar-inspired lighting pieces at his Observatory. Meanwhile Lara Bohinc presents new metal furniture, inspired by all things circular too, on show at an exciting new destination Alcova in NoLo, a former panettone factory that will house 20 exhibitors. As a child of the Seventies I like the sound of Bethan Laura Wood’s 1970s-inspired Mono Mania Mexico at the Moroso showroom (Via Pontaccio 8/10), not to mention the tapestries on show upstairs by the likes of Front and Tord Boontje. No doubt a quieter and more restrained will be John Pawson’s first collection for Salvatori.
A streetcar named design
Catching a ride on Cristina Celestino’s Tram Corallo sounds like a trip worth taking. She has resurrected a 1928 streetcar in collaboration with historic Venetian fabric house Rubelli. Billed as ‘a screening room on wheels’ it will be running in the Brera district.
Worth trekking out of town to Varedo for is Villa Borsani: Casa Libera!, the modernist home designed and built by Osvaldo Borsani between 1930-1945 which has been opened up by the Borsani family by appointment until 15 September. Who doesn’t love visiting the private residences of design legends, and this one is not only beautifully preserved but also includes rare one-off commissions by Borsani’s artist friends including Lucio Fontana and Guglielmo Ulrich among others.
Art of glass
There are always wondrous works of glass on show at Salone, but this year sounds particularly good with Lasvit staging the bonkers sounding Monster Cabaret with little transparent freaks and beasts on show by a roster of designers including the Campana Brothers and Maarten Baas. Meanwhile, WonderGlass is creating Kosmos, a translucent panorama in Istituto dei Ciechi and Preciosa is presenting the ‘playful’ Breath of Light installation.
Fashion and luxury lifestyle brands always collide well during Salone. Louis Vuitton’s Objet Nomades is consistently impressive. This year they are showing a collection of smaller objects by the Campana Brothers, Patricia Urquiola et al. with André Fu making his LV debut. Meanwhile, Jonathan Anderson is all about blankets at Loewe, Hermès reveals new tableware and Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli is teaming up with Nina Yashar to create an installation in the Montenapoleone store.
Finally, let’s not forget the headliners. Caesarstone is working with Snarkitecture, and COS collaborates with American artist Phillip K Smith III in what promises to be a reflective large-scale work in the renaissance courtyard of Palazzo Isimbardi – titled Open Sky – which just might ‘break’ Instagram’s new @design channel (also launching at Salone).
And last but by means least, our very own Wallpaper* Handmade focuses on wellness and wonder with Retreat at the Mediateca Santa Teresa on via della Moscova. Showcasing over 40 collaborations between designers and manufacturers, highlights will include a ‘playground’ by Maarten Baas and Henge, and a bristle massage chair designed by Xavier Lust with Delhez and Kent Brushes. If it all gets too much head here and restore your inner equilibrium and stabilise your spirits at the well-designed sanctuary of Wallpaper*.