Last June a full scale Milan Design Week could finally take place after a 3 year hiatus (not counting the symbolic 2021 edition). The 2022 edition introduced new products and enchanted visitors with multidisciplinary installations informed by art, science and architecture. Designers listed emotions, human connection, nature and sustainability as their inspirational keywords. Let’s see how their ideas translated into the Milan Design Week 2022 highlights.
Milan Design Week 2022 Highlights: 5VIE
I’m going to start with the very centre of Milan, where the 9th edition of 5VIE Design Week brought together utopian concepts of design and a traditional take on craftsmanship. This year’s title ‘Prototyping Utopias/Design in Transition’ alluded to the magical qualities of design: turning poetic ideas into everyday objects, facilitating social change and enabling cross-cultural connections. My favourite projects from the district, where Leonardo da Vinci once created his masterpieces, were either connected to light or glass (or both of them!).
Matter of Course, a Berlin-based collective of female designers, come up with poetic ideas such as the colourful glass installation by Eloa and the atmospheric Sealight glass by Studio Milena Kling. Giopato & Coombes, a duo of light designers, drew inspiration from the Korean plum blossoms to create their Maehwa chandelier.
Interni Design Re-Generation
Still in the city centre, the annual event organised by Interni took place across several locations, which hosted site-specific installations. They all explored the theme of rebirth and regeneration in vital areas such as sustainability, nature in the city, design, science and artificial intelligence. The ones that caught my eye occupied the courtyards of University of Milan.
A-Maze Garden by Lissoni Associati featured a labyrinth made of mirrored aluminium walls, inspired by Piet Mondrian’s trees. It celebrated the Climate Pledge, an environmental scheme by Amazon. Another installation, Phoenix by Jacopo Foggini, looked like an ancient temple made of recycled polymer and concrete.
Every year Rossana Orlandi Gallery curates a unique mix of high-end design and innovative pieces by young creators. The memorable highlights of the RoCollectible 2022 included the Gaïa Collection by the Swiss Atelier Oï. The name Gaïa stands for Mother Earth, so all glass sculptures included in the capsule collection referenced nature.
Èos installation played with light and shadows, recreating the moment when lava turns solid. Some brands, like Sé, returned to Rossana Orlandi for another year, this time presenting a collection inspired by the 1970s New York disco scene and the spirit of community.
Let’s move on to the new addition to the map of Fuorisalone. Alcova promised a fresh crop of design talent in an unexpected venue, far from the commercial stands of Salone del Mobile (the main furniture fair). The venue, an abandoned military hospital on the outskirts of Milan, projected a raw, post-apocalyptic vibe that made me feel a little uncomfortable.
Yet, the creativity of designs on display in tiny cells, made up for the initial discomfort. Colourful stone sculptures and lamps by French designer Elisa Uberti stood out for their curved shapes, while a ‘Blurry Thoughts’ mirror by Etage Projects gave off a dreamy, futuristic feeling.
Brera Design Week 2022
Finally, no edition of Milan Design Week could do without some larger-than-life installations that attract the crowds of design lovers and image-obsessed tourists alike. Back in the city centre, they could admire two such public spectacles in Brera. The first one, ‘The Art of Dreams’ by Australian florist Ruby Barber, transformed the courtyard of a historical palace into a blooming rose garden. The roses were occasionally lifted in the air by drones, which symbolised a bridge between nature, emotions and technology.
The second installation, ‘Divided Layers’, invited the viewers to walk through a tunnel made of wooden panels surrounded by a pool of water. This magical setting referenced the 3D printed sink Rock.01, a fruit of collaboration between the bathroom brand Kohler and contemporary artist Daniel Arsham. It stood for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking Milan Design Week wishes to be known for.