Each year, in April Milan is opening its gates for visitors of one of the most prestigious events in the world, Milan Design Week. 

Throughout this week, attendees immerse themselves in the multifaceted world of design. Whether exploring the latest trends in furniture at Salone del Mobile, Fiera Milano, or discovering other installations and exhibitions at FuoriSalone venues, the experience is rich and varied. Each design brand, including fashion houses, hosts its own exhibition to make a lasting impact and be remembered in the design world. And as you can imagine the preparations for Design Week are undeniably significant.

For Milanese locals, it’s not just an event but a bustling celebration. Daytime exhibitions and nighttime events infuse every corner of the city with a special spirit, making it a highly anticipated week for many, despite the long queues.

In addition to the excitement, each year brings a thematic focus, with ‘Materia Natura’ (Natural Material) being this year’s theme. The event aims to promote mindful design practices with sustainability at its core.

However, despite the anticipation, disappointment lingers, especially regarding installations and pavilions.

Installations are designed to evoke feelings that cannot be fully captured in videos or photos; one must be present to truly experience them. Reflecting on past installations like Tenoha in 2019 or Philippe Starck’s Dior exhibition last year, one can sense that certain aspects have evolved.

This year, Kia stood out with their innovative approach, incorporating musicians into their design to create an immersive experience where lights synchronized to rhythm, making the wait worthwhile.

Nevertheless, some installations, like Crystal Beat by Preciosa at Via Tortona, though similar to Kia’s, failed to captivate for long. The key difference lies in interactivity, which keeps visitors engaged and reluctant to leave.

But the real disappointments were found at Universita degli Studi di Milano Statale, where many pavilions left visitors underwhelmed.

The ‘I am what I throw away’ pavilion by NABA students, for example, failed to deliver on its promise. Visitors were left questioning its purpose after ascending to find nothing but a poster to take away.

While it’s fair to temper expectations for student-designed pavilions, the same leniency cannot be extended to established names like Mad Architects. Their ‘Amazing Walk’ failed to meet the grand expectations associated with their brand, leaving many disappointed. As designer/architect visitors, we are sick of seeing the same pavilions.. Placing into a historical atrium, using fog and lighting, and supporting with AI applications are not enough to break that ‘simple, ordinary pavilion’ effect. On the other side, good for Instagram, if this is our real purpose. 

However, there were highlights, such as Re/Creation by Lasvit Design and Elica Straordinaria by Elica & We+, winners of the FuoriSalone Award 2024, whose vision and approach resonated with visitors, offering clear interaction and experiences.

Milan Design Week ’24 : Unmasking Displeasure

Yet, despite these bright spots, a prevailing sense of monotony persists, as attendees yearn for fresh experiences beyond the usual LED screens and mirrored surfaces. Brands and designers must heed this call for innovation and avoid joining Design Week merely for the sake of it.

On a positive note, Gessi’s innovation, The Vita Gessi Caffé, A faucet not only serves up still water, but you’ve also got sparkling, chilled, boiling, and espresso injected much-needed excitement with its range of offerings, surprising and delighting visitors.

Meeting your design with the audience and allowing them to discover and critique it is not an easy task. However, it’s crucial to carefully consider and delve into the theme and its repercussions beforehand. While I’ve touched upon the most notable instances, it’s worth noting that numerous other situations could have been enhanced or refined.

Do not hesitate to reach me for any further discussions, thoughts,

Hope to meet at design weeks all over the world,

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like