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Milan Design Week is back in full force. After a year off and a scaled back version in September, creatives are back en masse for Salone del Mobile 2022, unquestionably the industry’s biggest event of the year. (Even Martha Stewart made the trip!) With too many events and cocktail parties to count, one design insider whispered to us: “There’s actually a big drama with glass rentals right now in Milan.” Not surprising in the least.
Sticking to a jam-packed schedule, we’ve canvassed the city, from the actual Salone del Mobile furniture fair—which comprised 2,100 exhibitors spread across 20 halls in the Rho Fiera—to a string of installations and debuts across the city.
Here, we’ve handpicked the best installations we saw this week, from Sabine Marcelis’s giant, pink marble bathtub in the crumbling rooms of a former military hospital at Alcova, to the usual faves from fashion brands like Loewe, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton, to the young talent you can’t miss at the fair. Still, if there’s anything we noticed while catching up with friends and colleagues late into the night at Bar Basso, it’s that postpandemic, people aren’t as eager to pack their schedules to the brim. As one industry friend thoughtfully put it, “Nowadays, Milan is more about seeing people than products.”
Alcova, the can’t-miss survey of boundary pushing design (curated by Valentina Ciuffi of Studio Vedèt and Joseph Grima of Space Caviar) was back at the Ospedale Militare di Baggio, the beautifully crumbling military hospital on the outskirts of Milan. (PRO tip: It’s right off metro line one, on the way to the Fiera, if you’re trying to squeeze it into your schedule.) Here, a sea of delightfully irreverent newcomers is peppered with big names, making for a cross section of the design of the moment, all in a highly Instagrammable setting. Highlights included new works by Chinese talent Duyi Han; a room full of experimental furnishings by American designers, curated by Aditions and Hello Human; a monumental pink onyx bathtub by Sabine Marcelis and OMA; and a suite of futuristic designs by Athens-based Objects of Common Interest. “We love the idea of introducing new work here. The space feels super fresh and interesting for us,” says Eleni Petaloti, cofounder of Objects of Common Interest. Gesturing to the weathered walls behind her work, she explains “We love the imperfections. The trace of rain in the walls. It’s beautiful.”
Salone Satellite, a hub for emerging designers under 35, in pavilions one and three at the fairgrounds, is a can’t-miss. This year, some 600 exhibitors showed work around the theme “Designing for Our Future Selves” with a focus on sustainability. Booth highlights included ethereal resin works by South Korean design firm Studio Yula, a survey of young Belgian talent called Belgium is Design, and ambitious new work from Lagos-based rising star Studio Lani, one of five exhibitors to receive the Salone Satellite award for a sculptural walker, wrapped in water hyacinth and aso oke fabric, that she designed with her grandfather in mind. “It was inspired by my 85-year-old grandpa, who found it very discouraging to use the traditional walker we bought for him,” she explains. “The RemX Walker exudes dignity and strength, designed to empower and uplift the user.”