Milan Design Week Guide for Dummies - The city's skyline from Terrazza Martini - Photo by Miquel Fabre.

Milan’s skyline from Terrazza Martini – Photo by Miquel Fabre.

A Corona virus outbreak in Italy led the government put in lockdown the whole country. Schools and universities, theatres, cinemas and libraries but also public events, churches and stadiums have been closed in order to isolate the infection. And Milan Design Week has been canceled.

“Milan is our home. At Archipanic we are all well. One thing is very important right now. STAY AT HOME! The more we are united and responsible the soonest we’ll leave this terrible emergency behind.”

Enrico Zilli – Archipanic editor in chief

A GLOBAL OVERVIEW – The Coronavirus pandemic , a new flu-like infection, began to spread from the city of Wuhan, China, between December 2019 and January 2020. With about 550.000 people infected worldwide so far, the disease killed almost 25.000 people, while over 128.000 have recovered. The first infections in Italy were detected in a small city not far from Milan at on February 23. So far, in Italy, +8.000 people passed away while +80.000 have tested positive. The virus is challenging mostly Spain, The United States, Germany, France and Iran (all with +30.000 cases each). A quarter of the world’s population is in  lockdown. In China and South Korea the situation is easing. Tokyo Olympics have been postponed.

MARCH 28: Iconic Milanese brands give their contribution proactively

Sanitary Masks production

Milanese Fashion houses and iconic liquer brands and more have converted their factories to help doctors and nurses dealing with Coronavirus. All Italian industrial plants of Giorgio Armani are now producing monouse gawns for hospital personel, the company has also donated 2m euros to the city’s Sacco and San Raffaele hospitals as well as other hospitals across the country. Prada has converted the production of its Montone, Italy-based factory to supply 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks to health-care personnel.

Amaro Ramazzotti produces hand saniitizers

Amaro Ramazzotti, the historic after dinner liqueur born in Milan in 1815 and now owned by Pernod Ricard, produces hand sanitizer instead of ‘amaro’. “In such delicate moment, hand sanitizer has never been so useful and essential for local communities.” Explains Laura Mayr, head of Amaro Ramazzotti business unit. “I normal conditions we are ‘Creators of Conviviality’, now is time to support public health and to give our contribute proactively.”

MARCH 27: Salone del Mobile.Milano suspended

Entrance of Salone del Mobile.Milano -Photo by Salone del Mobile 2018

Entrance of Salone del Mobile.Milano -Photo by Salone del Mobile.

Although we were determined to keep to the June date, to allow the annual event to take place as planned, the present, unprecedented circumstances and medium-term uncertainties now mean that this year’s Salone can no longer go ahead.” Say Salone del Mobile.Milano in the official statement. The next edition of the fair will now take place from 13th to 18th April 2021 and it t will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Salone. Read more…

MARCH 27: Is Salone del Mobile.Milano to be canceled?

Salone Satellite @ Salone del Mobile.Milano - Photo by Salone del Mobile.Milano

Salone Satellite @ Salone del Mobile.Milano – Photo by Salone del Mobile.Milano.

It is not official, but Salone del Mobile.Milano, the world’s most influential furniture fair which was originally scheduled in April and has already been postponed to June could be cancelled due to Covid-19.

MARCH 24: Carlo Ratti’s CURA intensive-care container units

CURA pods by Carlo Ratti Associati - Image by CRA.

CURA pods by Carlo Ratti Associati – Images by CRA.

Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA – Carlo Ratti Associati and director of MIT Senseable City Lab, has developed CURA, a compact Intensive-Care pod for patients with respiratory infections, hosted in a 20-foot intermodal container with biocontainment. The unit is being built for test at a hospital in Milan, Italy.

CURA – the acronym for Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments – is a modular open-source solution that could be as fast to mount as a hospital tent, but as safe as an isolation ward. The pods “can be quickly deployed in cities around the world, promptly responding to the shortage of ICU space in hospitals and the spread of the disease.” Explained Carlo Ratti. Read more…

MARCH 22: All non strategic business to shut down until April 3

Furniture Factory

Last night, Italian PM Giuseppe Conte said that all Italian businesses must close until April 3, with the exception of those essential to maintaining the country’s supply chain, in the latest desperate effort to halt the coronavirus epidemic. “It is the most difficult crisis in our post-war period,” Conte said in a video posted on Facebook, adding that “only production activities deemed vital for national production will be allowed”.

Supermarkets, pharmacies, postal and banking services will remain open, Conte said, and essential public services including transport will be ensured. While smart working will be allowed for architecture studios, all furniture production plants, artisans and craftsmen will have to temporarily close.

“We are slowing down the country’s production engine but we are not stopping it,” the PM said. The government is expected to publish an emergency decree today to make the latest crackdown immediately effective. Yesterday Italy recorded a jump in deaths from the virus of almost 800 on Saturday, taking the toll in the world’s hardest-hit country to almost 5,000.

MARCH 20: Dezeen’s Virtual Design Week scrapped

Dezeen's Virtual Design Festival

Coronavirus is disrupting business globally and caused the cancelation or postponement of many design fairs including Milan Design Week – now rescheduled in June – Light+Building – reprogrammed in September – WantedDesign New York – Canceled – and DesignShanghai – postponed in May. The ultimate victim is Dezeen’s Virtual Design Week, which has been put on hold even if nobody should attend to it physically.

Few days ago, the magazine launched  the idea of a digital platform for those brands which had their product launches frozen. Originally named Virtual Milan, the digital design week was supposed to take place during the original dates of Milan Design Week, prompting anger in Italy and across the global design community with readers accusing Dezeen of wanting to capitalise on a terrible tragedy at the expenses of the people of Milan.

In a post, founder and editor in chief Marcus Fair apologised and explained “why this was the wrong thing to do“. “We never for one minute intended it to be disrespectful to the city of Milan, its community and its current suffering amid the Coronavirus pandemic. We didn’t think of it as a competitive move against Salone del Mobile or any of the other Milanese design platforms, but rather as something to support the global design community at this difficult time. […] Our thoughts are with everyone during this terrible time. Please stay safe and let’s all stay connected.

Still, for many readers, the apologies might not be enough. Jimmy MacDonald, Founder of London Design Fair wrote: “Marcus, adding an apology to the end of a multi-story newsletter is not going to cut it. The Italians will not forgive you until you make good. Those that say you have apologised so move on clearly don’t understand Italy. Italian brands and fairs have made Dezeen what it is today. It’s time to GIVE something back and fast, or you will lose their patronage.

MARCH 19: 2015 World Expo’s ‘Tree of Life’ shines again with the Italian flag

Tree of Life shines with the Italian Flag

News agengy AGI reports that the 37m high landmark Albero della Vita (Tree Of Life) built for 2015 Milan World Expo, as an act of support for the city and the country. Made of wood and steel, the structure has been financed by a network of companies in the province of Brescia, one of the most hit by the infection. The decision to make the tower shine again was made by the company Mind – Milano Innovation District, the former Arexpo, which is working on developing the former expo site into a futuristic epicenter for science and research.

MARCH 18: STATE A CASA! #stayathome

Milano - State a casa

Despite authorities’ clear message to stay at home to prevent the virus from spreading, many people keep ignoring quarantine rules. Which are mandatory. IT’S ILLEGAL! And there are fines as well. PLEASE avoid going out unless strictly necessary – meaning going to the supermarket (but not every single day!) or to the pharmacy. No hanging around in parks, jogging,  joining outdoor activites or going for a walk. #StayAtHome.

After Wuhan, Milan is the most hit city in the world – with over 2.000 positives cases every day. Hospitals struggle to cope. Again, Stay at home!!!

 MARCH 15: Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti dies of Corovavirus

Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan by Vittorio Gregotti, 2002 - Photo by Paolo Margari

Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan by Vittorio Gregotti, 2002 – Photo by Paolo Margari.

Architect and urbanist Vittorio Gregotti known for important projects from Milan to Shanghai passed away aged 92 due to complications to Co-Vid19. “In the globalized world, we architects are only asked to amaze. My advice to younger generations is not to distance from your roots.” Read more…

MARCH 14: national flash mob to thank nurses, doctors and scientists

A warm, thankful and diffuse applause has been resonating across Italy – the whole country is in lockdown due to a Coronavirus outbreak which has infected +17k people locally. The national flash-mob is a way to thank all the doctors, nurses and scientist who form the front line of defense.

In the video – from our home – you can see the new skyscraper district of Tre Torri and FieraMilano, the cit’s old main fair, where constructors and medical teams are working around the clock to set up in record-time an emergency brand-new hospital with hundreds of intensive care units in order to manage more efficiently the emergency.

Milan – as the rest of the country – will be in lockdown until April 3. I am good and healthy. #StayTuned! #iorestoacasa

MARCH 13: people sings the national anthem and cheerful songs

Today at 6pm across the whole city, musicians played and citizen sang out loud from their balconies and windows to cheer up their neighbours. The event was part of a nation wide flashmob.

MARCH 12: Milan Art Week postponed

Scheduled on April 17-19, MIART art fair and the city’s vibrant Art Week have been postponed to Septber 7-13.

MARCH 12: Dezeen launches Virtual Milan, a digital design week

Dezeen's Virtual Milan

International architecture and design magazine has launched a digital design week which seems to aim to replace the city’s design week – the most influential one world wide. Named Virtual Milan, the event is set to take place on online during the original dates of Salone del Mobile Milano at the end of April. Milan Design Week has been postponed to June 15-21.

After the announcement, readers from Milan and across the globe accused Dezeen to want to capitalise on a terrible tragedy at the expenses of the people of Milan and Italian business. What angers Italians above all is the name. Virtual Milan.

It has nothing to do with Milan, let alone the Salone del Mobile“, says Andrea Brega, Head of Communication for the Salone del Mobile. “Indeed, frankly, it seems like a bad taste initiative”.

“It’s the way we react to the bad things that happen to us that say a lot about who we are.” Writes journalist Laura Traldi on her blog DesignAtLarge So does the fact that Dezeen – which is a magazine and not a fair – is organizing a Virtual Milan in April say about Dezeen itself?

Following many negative comments, Dezeen has swiftly renamed the event Virtual Design Festival.

MARCH 11: further restrictions for a grater good. #IoRestoACasa

#IoRestoACasa message by @chiaraferragni

#IoRestoACasa message by @chiaraferragni

Italians have been strongly invited to stay at home. We must carry a self-certification stating we left our flat for only necessary errands such as going to the supermarket, going to work or going to the doctor. The country is responding well. The more we are responsible the quickest we leave this surreal situation behind. At Archipanic we are responsible.

#IoRestoACasa and #StateACasa (I stay at home, Stay at home) hashtags are litterally going viral across social media. Starting from global influencer Chiara Ferragni who raised over 3m € to go to italy’s national health service.

MARCH 10: The whole Italy in lockdown

“The whole Italy is in lockdown conditions”, the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said. The restrictions include banning all public gatherings and preventing all movement other than for work and emergencies. According to the Reuters news agency, he has said the decision was necessary to protect Italy’s most vulnerable citizens and that the right course of action now is for people to stay at home.

MARCH 9: biking through empty Milan

Biking through the Engineering Faculty of Milan University Politecnico during Coronavirus outbreak – on March 9, 2020.

MARCH 8: Milan in lockdown as well

Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region, and other 24 provinces in the richest part of Italy have been ‘Red-Zone’ quarantined. Irresponsabile people are fleeing. Helping the virus to spread at its best across the country. Please stay at home!

MARCH 3: Venice Biennale postponed

Freespace, Venice Biennale 2018 - Photo by Photo Giorgio Zucchiatti; courtesy la Biennale di Venezia

Photo Giorgio Zucchiatti.

Venice Architecture Biennale will run from 29 August to 29 November. The world’s most influential architecture event has now been shortened to just three months instead of the usual six. Read more…

MARCH 2: Milan Duomo re-opens to the public.

Milan Duomo - Photo by ©Lorenzoclick.

Milan Duomo – Photo by ©Lorenzoclick.

Milan’s main cathedral swung open its gates to tourists this morning as Italy’s financial capital tried to get back to work after landing in the heart of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak. All churches and museum have been closed to prevent the infection to spread but in the next days are going to reopen as well.

FEBRUARY 29: the city slowly awakens

Navigli in Milan on Feb 29, 2020 . Photo by Enrico Zilli.

Navigli in Milan on Feb 29, 2020 . Photo by Enrico Zilli.

FEBRUARY 28 – #MilanoNonSiFerma

On his Instragram profile, Milan’s mayor Beppe Sala published a video inviting Milanese people to be strong and stoic with the motto #MilanoNonSiFerma which means Milan Doesn’t Stop. The mayor is being pushing authorities to gradual exit from the shutdown. Today the the Duomo, the city’s iconic gothic cathedral re-opened to the public while bars were allow to work after 6pm.

FEBRUARY 27: key players of Fuorisalone announce new dates tuning with Salone del Mobile.Milano postponement to June 15-21


FUORISALONE 2019. Super Design Show – Photo by Superstudio.

As expected, key players of Fuorisalone, the fair outside the fair that takes over Milan with over 1.700 events across the city during the design week, announced they rescheduled their event to June 15-21.

  • Well be there!” Wrote Superstudio which will double its presence both in the Tortona design district and in a brand-new location.
  • Same thing for the Brera Design District. “Such change triggers a complex process that must be managed at its best and requires the commitment of all players, companies and sponsors“. The district postponed the official press conference – originally scheduled next week – to April 16.
  • Ventura Projects announced that both Ventura Future and Ventura Centrale will take place simultaneously with the Salone del Mobile and all the main events of Milan Design Week from 16 – 21 June 2020. “Our aim is to maintain the formats of Ventura Future and Ventura Centrale the way they were initially planned and to create successful exhibitions with limited changes.”
  • June 16-21 are the new dates of Design Variations the exhibition platform at Palazzo Litta. “We would like to thank everyone for the collaboration and the willingness promplty demostrated in such a delicate moment.” Wrote organisers at Mosca Partners.
  • We’ll keep you updated with more announcements. Feeling positive. Milan is moving forward – Hooray!

FEBRUARY 27: Venice Biennale to go ahead as scheduled

Freespace, Venice Biennale 2018 - Photo by Andrea Avezzù. Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia.

Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 – Photo by Andrea Avezzù; courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

#BREAKINGNEWS – During the a behind doors press conference broadcasted on streaming, Paolo Baratta, president of La Biennale di Venezia, announced that the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale will  open to the public on 23 May. During the conference Baratta did not mention the Corona Virus infection and focused on the contents of the world’s most prestigious architecture event.

In a video from the United States, the appointed curator Hashim Sarkis introduced the Biennale main theme: How will we live together?  “In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together.” Said Sarkis. “We  need a new spatial contract.”

Today we would have gone to Venice for the press conference of The Venice Architecture Biennale which is scheduled to inaugurate on May 24. But, of course – we are smart working from home. Buggers! Actually, it is unclear if the most influential architecture event will proceed as planned or if its organizers will also opt to push back the show. #StayTuned!

FREBURARY 26 – Biking on Navigli – pretty empty eh?

FEBRUARY 25, 2020 – Salone del Mobile postponed to June 16-21

After an emergency meeting, Salone del Mobile organizers decided to postpone the world’s largest and most important furniture fair due to take place between 21 and 26 April.

Entrance of Salone del Mobile.Milano -Photo by Salone del Mobile 2018

Entrance of Salone del Mobile.Milano -Photo by Salone del Mobile.

Following an extraordinary meeting today of the Board of Federlegno Arredo Eventi, and in view of the ongoing public health emergency, the decision has been taken to postpone the upcoming edition of the Salone del Mobile,” the statement said. Confirmation of the change of date for the trade fair – strongly supported by the Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala – means that the manufacturers, in a major show of responsibility, will be able to present their finalised work to an international public that sees the annual appointment with the Salone del Mobile as a benchmark for creativity and design.”

FEBRUARY 24 – Milan Design Week at risk

Postponed or canceled? Milan Design Week jeopardised by the Corona virus ourbreak in northern Italy. Later today the announcement of the board of Salone del Mobile.Milano. Over 270 people in the Lombardy and Veneto regions have tested positive for Coronavirus, making Italy the most affected country in Europe.

FEBRUARY 23 – Biking under Zaha Hadid’s GENERALI tower

FEBRUARY 23 – Milan Fashion Week vs Corona virus

The news of the Corona Virus infection hits Milan during Fashion Week. Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani has staged its women’s Autumn/Winter 2020 show in Milan without an audience. “We support national efforts in safeguarding public health“, and to protect the invited guests by stopping them attending “crowded spaces“. This was intended as “a message of love” for the country. After the catwalk, Giorgio Armani himself followed the models to close the event, gesturing thank you and waving to an audience that was not present.