Milan – It would be pretty fair to say that exploring Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone is about ricocheting off sofas and chandeliers. That’s why we wrote down this Milan Design Week guide for dummies. Even if it is quieter this year due to Covid-19, get ready to plunge into a design drome anyway.
COVID-19 RULES – At the moment, infections are relatively low now in Milan and Italy. EU citizens can seamlessly travel to Italy. If you come from outside the European Union, check the limits and regulations before booking the trip. Flights and trains into the country require an EU Covid-19 Green Pass or a negative Covid-test. All indoor exhibition venues, as well as restaurants serving indoor meals, demand to wear a mask while visiting or at the table. You will be asked to show you a Green Pass or a negative test proof. Access is limited in some smaller locations, check before and book in advance. Respect social distancing and hygienise your hands every time you enter a new venue. Keep safe!
GETTING INTO TOWN AND ACCOMMODATION – Milan is very easy to reach by plane or train. There are fixed taxi tariffs from airports to the city or the fair. If you haven’t booked your accommodation, hurry up! You might still find some spare flat on Airbnb, but do not hope for affordable hotel fares.
GETTING AROUND – The public transport system is very efficient – the daily ticket costs 4,50 € – but design districts can be explored on foot. Comfy shoes are mandatory. During rush hours, taxis are not easy to find. Call (+39) 02 4040 or (+39) 028585 to book a cab. Do not use the car, as parking lots are more than a mirage and there is a fee to drive through the city centre.
THE FAIR – Back to business – Al lavoro, in Italian – Salone del Mobile.Milano is located just outside the city. The most practical way to reach it is by tube – 4,00 € return ticket; if you pay contactless, remember to tap your card when you exit to avoid fines or extra charges. This year the fair consists of only four pavilions with hundreds of exhibitors.
Buy here your Salone ticket in advance, as there it’s a maelstrom! Once in, get one free guide and, if you haven’t done yet, plan your route before plunging into the design drome! During rush hours, the metro and the traffic are a nightmare. Leave at least half an hour before closing time to avoid congestion.
FUORISALONE – Despite Covid-19, the program of exhibitions and parties taking over the city is massive. Avoid queues by registering online to Superstudio (free). Dedicate at least half a day to each design district.
THE DESIGN DISTRICTS – The Duomo central square hosts big exhibitions. Check Palazzo Reale, Museo del Novecento and the INTERNI Magazine installations in the stunning cloisters of Milan University Statale [MM1 San Babila]. Nearby, you can walk to the 5 Vie design district. Meander through the quiet cobbled alleys of this historic district to discover stunning installations nested in picturesque courtyards, design and art galleries and ateliers turned into exhibition venues. There are three major locations at Palazzo Litta in Corso Magenta 24 and Masterly at Palazzo Turati in Via Meravigli 7 and SIAM in Via Santa Marta 18.
A must-visit pit stop is at the gallery of Milan Design Week’s godmother Rossana Orlandi [Via Mandello 14, MM2 St. Ambrogio] and Nilufar Gallery in the Fashion district [Via della Spiga 32, MM3 Montenapoleone]. Make sure to visit La Triennale di Milano [Via Alemagna 6, MM1,2 Cadorna], a true temple of design hosting major exhibitions, talks and events, as well installations in the exquisite garden designed by renowned artist De Chirico. The brand-new ADI Design Museum hosts further exhibitions [Piazza Compass d’Oro 1, MM5 Monumentale].
Brera Design District [MM2 Brera and Moscova] hosts the flagship stores of some of the leading Italian design brands. Explore the historic district’s cobbled streets and verdant courtyards to discover unexpected installations. The most popular streets are Pontaccio, Via Brera, via Solferino, Piazza San Marco and Corso Garibaldi.
Tortona [MM2 Porta Genova] is a post-industrial neighbourhood with large exhibition spaces. The main venues are Superstudio and co-working space and cultural platform Base, which hosts curated events, talks, and installations. Along via Tortona and via Savona garages, shops and offices are transformed into exhibition galleries for independent brands. This year Superstudio inaugurates a new exhibition venue, Superstudio Maxi, in Via Moncucco, 35 [MM2 Famagosta].
Porta Venezia Design district [MM1 Porta Venezia] is an elegant neighborhood with Art Deco buildings, bars and exhibitions. Must go destination is Villa Necchi Campiglio, a glorious villa in Via Mozart 8 designed by Piero Portaluppi in the 1930s, which often hosts major exhibitions.
Isola design district is located just beyond the new skyscrapers embracing Piazza Gae Aulenti [MM3, 5 Garibaldi]. The new creative epicenter is full of surprises. The Stecca, a former squat now turned into a community exhibition centre, hosts talks and events. Find new inspirations at the Milan Design Market.
Three indie districts – NoLo, the acronym of North of Loreto – is a vibrant multiethnic neighborhood with exhibitions and installations in unexpected locations such as the massive industrial vaults under the central station. [MM2 and 3 Centrale and MM3 Loreto]. This year a new district debuts: Alpha District is located around Piazza Gino Valle in the west of the city [MM5 Tre Torri]. The design platform Alcova will open another extraordinary Milanese site, just a few steps away from the Inganni M1 metro station [Via Simone Saint Bon 1].