The Top 11 Most Inspirational Projects at Milan Design Week 2024

After resting a bit from our whirlwind visit to Milan Design Week 2024, we’ve picked 11 of our favorite designers to watch, installations that made us think, and pieces we’d love to own from the hundreds of exhibitions, installations, pop-ups, and galleries spread across the city. These are some of the week’s most standout sources of inspiration.

partial view of burgundy red modern design objects, including a sofa, lamp, and rug

“Design Ancora” by Gucci \\\ Photo: Courtesy of Gucci

Luxury fashion brands have been working hard debuting their own color tones. Think Valentino’s PP Pink, Bottega Veneta’s Parakeet Green, and last fall at Milan Fashion Week, Gucci creative director Sabato De Sarno debuted its signature color: Ancora Red – inspired by the rich oxblood tone in the lining of an original Jackie bag. For Design Week, he pushed the color further with Design Ancora, an exhibition at the house’s Via Montenapoleone flagship, which reimagined five Italian design icons in this alluring deep red: the Storet drawers by Nanda Vigo for Acerbis (1994), a reinterpreted version of the Clessidra rug by Nicolò Castellini Baldissera, who updated his grandfather Piero Portaluppi’s original design, the Parola table lamp by Gae Aulenti and Piero Castiglioni for FontanaArte (1980), the Le Mura sofa by Mario Bellini for Tacchini (1972), and the Opachi vase by Tobia Scarpa for Venini (1960). It’s a great opportunity to revisit these lesser-known pieces from the golden age of Italian design that Gucci likes to call “Italianity.”

exhibition shot of warehouse with chrome colored home furnishings and art.

“An anthology of matter” by Ben Storms \\\ Photo: Eline Willaert

When it comes to materiality, Belgian artist and craftsman Ben Storms is the one to watch. For his latest collection, debuted at the Baranzate Ateliers on the western edge of Milan, he focused on the interplay between outcome and process, between the raw and the elaborate, using rich materials such as marble, bronze, glass, and cast aluminum. He uses his expertise and training as a stonemason, sculptor, and woodworker in combination with state-of-the-art techniques to transform materials into captivating and unique pieces of furniture that are other worldly.

Art exhibition with shiny silver walls and aluminum furniture in front

AL – FORM” by Niceworkshop \\\ Photo: Courtesy of Capsule

Seoul-based architect Hyunseog Oh, founder of Niceworkshop, showcased his “AL – FORM” collection at Capsule Plaza in the newly renovated 10 Corso Como, which is based around the idea of reusing aluminum formwork that is used to create cast in-place concrete structures to make a wall or column. For this project, Niceworkshop partnered with the Korean company Format, which repurposes material waste from construction sites into consumer goods. Though aluminum formwork can be used several times, after a certain point the repeated exposure to concrete degrades the metal and the formwork is disposed of. Oh transformed the waste material into a collection that includes a lounge chair, dining chair, table, and bench – available in two contrasting textures: a used version and a new one. When the aluminum framework has been used repeatedly, it takes on the patina of wood or even natural stone. The project highlights the importance of giving a second life to the reuse of industrial materials – something that can be beautiful and sustainable.

angled exhibition view of exhibition featuring metal objects

“100R” by Hydro \\\ Photo: Einar Aslaksen

Continuing the aluminum theme, the “100R” exhibition at Spazio Maiocchi, curated by Lars Beller Fjetland for Norwegian brand’s Hydro Circal 100R recycled aluminum product, brought together seven designers to create objects made from scrap aluminum that can be mass-produced on demand. Moreover, the Hydro Circal 100R is the first aluminum product made entirely from post-consumer scrap that can be mass-produced on an industrial scale. (For eco-geeks this means that the product was designed to have a carbon footprint that is 97% lower than the global average for primary-grade aluminum.) Designs featured included the Grotte Lamp by Inga Sempé, the Billet Chair by product designer John Tree, the Prøve Light by Max Lamb, a coat hanger called Tsuba by Andreas Engesvik, and a partition called Serial by Rachel Griffin, just to name a few.

exhibition image of home furnishings made from sponge cellulose

UPS – Under Pressure Solutions by ECAL \\\ Photo: Marvin Merkel

The famous-infamous Swiss design school, ECAL showcased their research work on a cellulose-based material which is 100% biodegradable and can be use in so many ways. The UPS – Under Pressure Solutions research project, which was led by five industrial designer academics at ECAL, displayed objects made from this cellulose sponge material and provided many possibilities for its applications and uses. They even built a whole website for the project where you can see the material in action.

Exhibition image with new chairs resting amongst trees and grass

“What makes The Project of Living?” by Arper \\\ Photo: Stefania Zanetti

Sustainability should always be front and center. and we loved Arper’s industry-disrupting new launch of their Catifa Carta. In collaboration with Swedish startup PaperShell, the Italian company is reintroducing the chair’s look with a re-engineered shell made out of a composite wood by-product. The seat of the chair is the crafted from paper offcuts of dead trees that is transformed into a durable craft paper, which in turn, are pressed together into a mold with steam and bio-resin, to create the final seat. And at the end of the chair’s life cycle, the material can be reduced to biochar instead of decaying in a landfill.

modern sculptural clock in primary colors on a stand

Anomalo Clock for NEW CRAFT (SHOP) Pop-up by Shinkogeisha \\\ Photo: Courtesy of Shinkogeisha

On the outskirts of ISOLA district, Shinkogeisha held a pop-up exhibition and shop called NEW CRAFT (SHOP) facing the Garibaldi train Station. The Kyoto-based collective of designers are dedicated to bringing together diverse disciplines like design, engineering, software, and electronics, all while emphasizing contemporary craftsmanship. Whether it’s using the latest advances in digital fabrication or additive manufacturing, they create playful but useful objects that often transition between the digital and analog domains. They also collaborate closely with research institutions and companies, actively participating in projects brought to them for consultation, as they jointly explore the future landscape of manufacturing.

magenta hued set with three people sitting in various chairs playing video games.

BRÄNBOLL by IKEA \\\ Photo: Courtesy of IKEA at Zona Tortona

Over at Zona Tortona, Swedish furniture megabrand IKEA unveiled BRÄNBOLL, a fun and colorful new collection of furniture, storage solutions, and accessories aimed at the 2.5 billion gamers from around the world. The collection moves away from the typically boring black and gray gaming furniture, and highlights rich vibrant colors inspired by street sports and dare we say early 80s vibes. It’s something that would work in anyone’s home looking for something fresh and inspiring.

angled room view staged with a two tone marble table under chandelier

Sekka Table by Tino Seubert for Agglomerati \\\ Photo: Piergiorgio Sorgetti

Alcova Milano marked its 7th edition by situating itself within two architectural icons of the city, Villa Borani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi. It was hard to find a favorite from the 70 or so independent designers, innovative brands, and galleries. At Villa Borsani, one of the standouts was London-based Tino Seubert’s Sekka (‘snow flower” in Japanese) marble table collection for Agglomerati. Inspired by Japanese carpentry and monolithic Mediterranean buildings, the collection of round and rectangular side, coffee, and dining tables, are configured by stone pairings that are articulated through the geometric detailing of the central flower motif. The end result is a stunning contemporary collection that constrasts to the majestic modernist Italian villa’s backdrop.

closeup view of three wood chairs with plaid woven seats

Yves Salomon x Chapo Création \\\ Photo: Laora Queyras

Over at Studio Dimore near the Stazione Centrale, fashion brand Yves Salomon unveiled its collaboration with Chapo Création, a collection of five furniture pieces created by 1960’s interior designer Pierre Chapo, each upholstered in luxurious upcycled intarsia shearling. With sustainability in mind, the designs use no glues or permanent fastenings and the shearling pieces were recycled off-cuts. Chapo’s work has a sculptural, almost brutalism feeling to it, which worked with the luxurious and colorful woven fabrics.

Festive tablescape with set table and garland hanging

“Indian Tiny Mega Store” by Gunjan Gupta \\\ Photo: Courtesy of Gunjan Gupta

One of the best installations at 5 Vie was the “Indian Tiny Mega Store,” curated by Maria Cristina Didero, a stellar independent curator who is currently working on Craft x Tech, a project on Japanese craftsmanship and design, due to open this month in Tokyo at the Kudan House. She worked with Indian designer Gunjan Gupta to create a pop-up of beautifully crafted everyday objects from India. The pop-up recreated a typical Indian supermarket showcasing typical Indian crafts and tableware with a special, contemporary twist, all against a backdrop of enchanting perfumes, delightful music, and soft vibes. Visitors could choose from 21 carefully selected products that can also now be purchased from Gupta’s website,

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