In the middle of reporting and Googlemapping our way through the city, these were the moments that made us stop, smile and even laugh along with the people behind them during this edition of the Milan Design Week.


‘Is this a restaurant or an exhibition?’ asked a confused Italian woman as she entered the venue on Via Cesare Correnti 14. Her confusion was well founded, though. After the generous media coverage garnered by last year’s The Diner – hey, the Rockwell Group even took home a Frame Award for Trade-Fair Stand of the Year for it – there was an uptick in designers-turned-restaurateurs in this version of Fuorisalone. From Tom Dixon’s permanent The Manzoni to Maarten Baas’ tongue-in-cheek Bar Baas for Lensvelt and DWA’s Caffè Populaire in Alcova, many studios wanted to give visitors the experience of using lighting, furniture and dinnerware within a live hospitality context.

Via Cesare Correnti 14, by the way, housed Local Milan 04 – a showcase of the work of young Australian designers, but not a restaurant.

The Bar Baas for Lensvelt - Photo by Jan Willem Kaldenbach


Sabine Marcelis made a rug that looks like a giant tray full of unglazed doughnuts. Ha. Dutch manufacturer Carpet Sign has eight units available for purchase, as it is a limited-edition run; someone please inform Ariana Grande about this great opportunity. For those who won’t be able to buy one, joy can also come in the shape of Marcelis’ confectionery connections on Instagram.

Forget Dominique Ansel: Sabine Marcelis is our favourite doughnut deviant - Photo by Thijs Wolzak


The sun was generous until Wednesday. Afterwards, rain descended upon the city, ruining outdoor selfies, Eva Chen-style shoe planning and al fresco dining dreams for everyone. Not for the visitors of The Pool Club, a very tropical installation inside a shipping container placed in the middle of Piazza XXV Aprile near Porta Garibaldi. The contrast between DesignByGemini’s Miami Vices and the wishful pedestrians observing the setup while grimly holding their umbrellas was quite a sight.

The Pool Club during those happy days when the sun was still out - Photos courtesy of DesignByGemini


The five-year-old child we all carry inside – and who should, for our mental health, come out to play some 10 minutes every day – would be very happy at the unexpectedly fun setup for Design Switzerland’s showcase. To sum it up, the Golden Boot would go to a hilariously menacing poo emoji come to life. Bureau SVDP’s exhibition design at the Palazzo Lita gave a whimsical stage to projects such as Studio Porto’s emergency system for elderly people and Birdly’s speculative design experiment over Milan’s skyline.

Part of Bureau SVDP's exhibition setup for Design Switzerland at the Teatro Litta - Photos by Raphaelle Mueller


At Ventura Centrale, Maarten Baas’ I Think Therefore I Was video installation featured an impressive amount of clips of TV talking heads, celebrities and people using up their 15 minutes uttering the same words: ‘I think…’

My, what a proud bunch we are. But fortunately, being given an excuse to laugh at oneself is the best design medicine.

But there must have been hundreds of clips in there. ‘How many interns were harmed in the making of this installation?’ we asked an amused Baas after touring through the screens. His actual secret weapon and devoted workforce, though? Nieces and nephews. We have no idea whether he was joking. Probably. Probably not.

Part of the tetrazillions of video clips in Maarten Baas' Ventura Centrale installation - Photo by Jan Willem Kaldenbach


Never mind the rivers of Lavazza coffee being served: the best part of Gufram’s installation at Ventura Centrale was its golden touch. Seen from afar or via Instagram, the items lining the walls of the space’s vault looked like gold ingots. Once one got close enough, though, the trick became clear: they were actually thousands of the Turin maker’s Qualità Oro coffee sachets. Simple, so simple – but so effective.


UTSUÀ is a new porcelain brand from Arita, showcasing its first collection at the Spazio Rossana Orlandi. The Japanese manufacturer presented a man-meets-machine approach to the craft: moulds are made using 3D printers, but then every piece is sanded out by hand to make sure the telltale horizontal lines created by the layered fabrication method are nowhere to be seen. ‘3D printing is helpful, but it’s still too ugly,’ stated one of the team members matter-of-factly. Well, somebody had to say it.

Part of the new porcelain collection by UTSUÀ - Photo courtesy of UTSUÀ


The rooftop of the Strategic Footprints apartment housed one of our favourite exhibitions – Masquespacio’s Land for Poggi Ugo – but the main floor also had a treat for visitors. Atelier Avéus presented The Symbolic Room, a spatial proposal that aimed to be a vessel for meditation. The best part? If you’ve ever felt the fear of the permanent object press on a rug’s tuft – furniture legs forever marked on the pattern due to lack of constant re-positioning – Avéus’ blue piece liberated you from that. It was full of circular and square marks all over, giving visitors some exposure therapy in order to overcome their furniture-press anxiety. 

No need to stress over furniture leaving its mark on the rug - Photo by Mattia Iotti

There were also projects in this Milan Design Week that made us think, stop, feel and listen. You can read about them here.