A guide to the galleries and exhibitions lighting up Milan Design Week 2021

With the 59th Salone del Mobile in full flow in its new format, STIR at Supersalone highlights a selection of galleries and exhibitions currently livening up the city of Milan.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Sep 08, 2021

With the 2021 edition of Milan Design Week kicking into high gear in its new hybrid format dubbed Supersalone - consisting of both virtual and in-person events, the city of Milan in Italy is currently playing host to an array of exhibitions, installations, and events as a torchbearer for the return of great Italian design fairs in the wake of the pandemic. With a program curated by Italian architect, Stefano Boeri, under the stewardship of Salone President Maria Porro, the 59th edition of Salone del Mobile adopts sustainability and circular design as its core values. As the festivities gain momentum, STIR presents a curated list of unmissable exhibitions and gallery events taking place at the world's largest and most celebrated furniture fair.

EXHIBITIONS

1. A Flame for Research: Ten Candleholders to Fight Cancer
By Mingardo
OFFSTAGE MILANO, Piazza Luigi Vittorio Bertarelli, 4

A Flame for Research: Ten Candleholders to Fight Cancerby Mingardoat OFFSTAGE Milano | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
A Flame for Research: Ten Candleholders to Fight Cancer by Mingardo at OFFSTAGE Milano Image: Matteo Imbriani

The brainchild of Daniele Mingardo, founder of the Padua-based design and craftsmanship brand ‘Mingardo’, this stirring initiative unites 10 globally acclaimed designers to craft one-off candleholders for an exhibition at OFFSTAGE Milano, curated by Federica Scala. After the fair's conclusion, the pieces will be auctioned off in a charity event organised in association with Christie’s Italia, with all proceeds going to the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research IRCCS. The exhibition lineup includes the likes of Michele De Lucchi, Jaime Hayon, Philippe Malouin, Alberto and Francesco Meda, Luca Nichetto, Matteo Thun, Patricia Urquiola, Marcel Wanders Studio, Panter & Tourron and Federica Biasi - Mingardo’s art director. In a show of hope and solidarity, A Flame for Research exhibition will display different interpretations of how a candleholder’s symbolic protection of the element of fire is representative of our species’ need to safeguard the gift of life.

2. Hermès Scenography at the Milan Furniture Fair
By Hermès
La Pelota, via Palermo 10

Hermès Scenography at the Milan Furniture Fair | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Hermès Scenography at the Milan Furniture Fair Image: Maxime Verret

Comprising five geometrically-patterned ‘houses’ bathed in a pale golden aura, Hermès’ immersive installation at Milan Design Week swings between tradition and modernity, with exhibits that have been designed as ‘encounters with matter'. A combination of raw and natural materials with inclusions such as a paper microfiber seat, cashmere mixed with gold threads, and chiselled stone tables, characterise the ambience of this miniature settlement - exemplified by the Sillage armchair designed by Studio Mumbai. Meticulous craftsmanship, understatement, and delicacy are all embodied within the tactile and fragile microcosm created by the French luxury goods manufacturer.

3. Emerging Lines
By Pianca & Partners
Pianca & Partners Showroom, Via di Porta Tenaglia 7N3

L to R: Giuseppe Arezzi, Maddalena Selvini, and FlatwigStudio (Erica Agogliati and Francesca Avian)  | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
L to R: Giuseppe Arezzi, Maddalena Selvini, and Flatwig Studio (Erica Agogliati and Francesca Avian) L to R: Melissa Carnemolla, Courtesy of Pianca& Partners, Andy Donohe

Organised by Pianca & Partners - a hub for contract customers and SMEs created by furniture manufacturer Pianca, which has been involved with Salone del Mobile since its inception in 1961 - Emerging Lines is a show at Fuorisalone that highlights the voices of three emerging Italian design talents under the age of 35. Occupying a large display window at the Pianca & Partners showroom with a set designed by Italian firm Calvi Brambilla, the exhibition will showcase the work of product and interior designer Giuseppe Arezzi, designer Maddalena Selvini, as well as Flatwig Studio - a Milan-based design practice, founded in London in 2016 by Erica Agogliati and Francesca Avian.

4. Fantastic Smartphones
By ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Spazio Orso 16

Fantastic Smartphones by ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanneat Spazio Orso 16 | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Fantastic Smartphones by ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne at Spazio Orso 16 Courtesy of ECAL

Underneath its satirical title, Fantastic Smartphones is a series of alternative accessories, machine performances, and interactive installations depicting our intense dependence on smartphones and their all-encompassing influence on everyday life. Developed by students from the Bachelor Media & Interaction Design course at the University of Art and Design Lausanne in Switzerland, the project conducts a critical examination of society's addiction to these now-indispensable devices. Among the innovative ideas on display are: a creative method to save time on a dating app, employing bots to cheat on personal health data, attending a discussion between two smartphones, or even discovering neologisms stemming from new digital behaviours.

5. Glass Utopia
By Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre and Mr. Lawrence
SIAM 1838 - Società d'Incoraggiamento d'Arti e Mestieri - Via Santa Marta, 18, Milano

Glass Utopia by Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre and Mr. Lawrence at SIAM 1838 - Società d'Incoraggiamento d'Arti e Mestieri | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Glass Utopia by Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre and Mr. Lawrence at SIAM 1838 - Società d'Incoraggiamento d'Arti e MestieriImage: Courtesy of Mr. Lawrence

Curated by Mr. Lawrence design consultancy for Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre, Glass Utopia was a signature exhibition at the 2019 Design Canberra Festival in Australia, illustrating the parallels between Venetian and Australian glass production in the contemporary context. The Milan edition of the exhibition presents the work of 12 leading Australian and Italian glass designers, featuring 24 pieces that exemplify the new glass Renaissance as well as the unbounded creativity within the discipline that transcends borders. The exhibition includes works by Elizabeth Kelly, Federico Peri, Gala Fernandez, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Liam Fleming, Matteo Zorzenoni, Mel Douglas, Peter Bowles, Stories of Italy, Tom Skeehan, Federica Biasi, and Zanellato/Bortotto.

6. RoGuiltless Plastic
By Rossana Orlandi and RoGuiltless Plastic
Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Via San Vittore 21

  • Urban Lounge by Pininfarina Architecture, Indexlab, Eco2Zone, eXgineering,  Nieder, Design Differente and Euro Cooling- part of Guiltless Plastic by Rossana Orlandi| Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
    Urban Lounge by Pininfarina Architecture, Indexlab, Eco2Zone, eXgineering, Nieder, Design Differente and Euro Cooling- part of Guiltless Plastic by Rossana Orlandi Image: Courtesy of Indexlab, and Rossana Orlandi Gallery
  • The Circular Lab by Mario Cucinella Architects - part of Guiltless Plastic by Rossana Orlandi| Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
    The Circular Lab by Mario Cucinella Architects - part of Guiltless Plastic by Rossana Orlandi Image: Marco Menghi, Courtesy of Rossana Orlandi Gallery

Now in its third edition, RoGuiltless Plastic is an international project conceived by renowned curator and gallerist Rossana Orlandi alongside her daughter Nicoletta Orlandi Brugnoni, that enlists designers to craft items from recycled plastic, as a means to depict the unlimited transformative potential in reusing and recycling materials. RoGuiltless Plastic will take place at three sites across the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci. This iteration of the initiative gathers designers and organisations such as Mario Cucinella, Arch. Lucio Micheletti and Rubner Haus, Mario Zanon, Pininfarina Architecture, Indexlab, TecnoSpa, Metalco, Carlsberg, Politecnico di Milano and Patricia Urquiola x GAN.

7. Masterly - The Dutch in Milano
Curated by Nicole Uniquole
Palazzo Francesco Turati, Via Meravigli 7

Masterly - The Dutch in Milano by Uniquole at Palazzo Francesco Turati| Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Masterly - The Dutch in Milano by Uniquole at Palazzo Francesco Turati Image: Courtesy of Uniquole

Returning to the Fuorisalone for the fifth time, Masterly - The Dutch in Milano brings a varied selection of the finest in design and craftsmanship from The Netherlands. It has been curated by Nicole Uniquole - the founder of independent curatorial and brand consultancy practice Uniquole. As the Dutch design pavilion in Milan, this version of Masterly includes over 80 exhibitors, returning to the Palazzo Francesco Turati, with the likes of Francine Houben from Mecanoo Architecten, Stefan Scholten, Workingbert, Cooloo, Vouw, and many other Dutch design luminaries

8. SENBAN
By Jo Nagasaka (Schemata Architects) and Naritake Fukumoto (TANK)
Alcova, Via Simone Saint Bon, 1

SENBANby Jo Nagasaka (Schemata Architects) and Naritake Fukumoto (TANK) at Alcova | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 |STIRworld
SENBAN by Jo Nagasaka (Schemata Architects) and Naritake Fukumoto (TANK) at Alcova Image: Courtesy of Schemata Architects

Devised by Japanese architect Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects, in conjunction with Naritake Fukumoto of Tokyo-based construction company TANK, SENBAN is a new method of lathe processing that allows greater flexibility in realising different product shapes. Nagasaka had initially developed the technique while working on the Japan Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, and further refined the process while fabricating a series of furniture designs that included tables and benches. The exhibition, held at Alcova's exhibition space on Via Simone Saint Bon, 1, displays three such types of lathe machines as well as a selection of the furniture crafted by Nagasaka.

9. Sensi Pigmenti
By Florim Ceramiche, Matteo Thun, and Antonio Rodriguez
Showroom Florim, Foro Buonaparte, 14

Sensi Pigmenti by Florim Ceramiche, Matteo Thun, and Antonio Rodriguez at Showroom Florim | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Sensi Pigmenti by Florim Ceramiche, Matteo Thun, and Antonio Rodriguez at Showroom Florim Image: VanniBorghi

Ceramic specialist Florim has recruited Antonio Rodriguez and Matteo Thun to curate a journey through sustainable design in an installation that showcases the duo's collection of natural pigment and mineral essence-inspired ceramic slabs. Occupying seven windows of the Florim showroom overlooking the Foro Buonaparte at the heart of MIlan's Brera district, Sensi Pigmenti portrays a micro-city comprising six settings: a garden, bar, swimming pool, kiosk, greengrocer, and clothes shop. Adorned with Thun and Rodriguez's collection of slabs made with recycled materials, the installation's spaces illustrate the inimitable beauty of handmade products, reinterpreted using Florm's cutting-edge technology.

10. Superdesign Show - Special Edition and Extension
By Superstudio Group
Superstudio Più in via Tortona 27 and Superstudio Maxi Via Moncucco 35

L to R: Superstudio Più in via Tortona 27 and Superstudio Maxi Via Moncucco 35 | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
L to R: Superstudio Più in via Tortona 27 and Superstudio Maxi Via Moncucco 35Image: L to R: Courtesy of Superstudio Group, Rocco Scoldini

For the occasion of Milan Design Week, Superstudio Group has organised two separate shows as part of this year's iteration of the Superdesign Show. Among them, the Superdesign Show - Special Edition with R/Evolution is a series of thematic areas at Superstudio Più in via Tortona 27, charting a new path for design that is inclusive of topics such as new millennium design icons, artificial intelligence, female creativity, and new production methods - with exhibitions curated by the likes of Giulio Cappellini, Silvana Annicchiarico, Alberto Basaglia e Natalia Rota Nodari, Carlo Ratti, and Gisella Borioli. On the other hand, Superdesign Show - Extension with Design Beyond Design is a multimedia exhibition that blends various design channels and methods of expression - including art, video, photography, performances, and architecture, into a series of exhibitions curated by Flavio Lucchini and Luca Gilli along with several others at the Superstudio Maxi Via Moncucco.

GALLERIES

11. BUILDING Gallery - Before Thunder, After Dark
By Leiko Ikemura, curated by Frank Boehm
BUILDING Gallery, via Monte di Pietà 23, Milano

Installation views, Leiko Ikemura Before Thunder, After Dark at BUILDING Gallery | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Installation views, Leiko Ikemura Before Thunder, After Dark at BUILDING GalleryImage: Roberto Marossi, Courtesy of BUILDING

Before Thunder, After Dark is the first solo exhibition by Japanese-Swiss artist Leiko Ikemura, offering a comprehensive overview of her body of work from the 1980s till the present day. Featuring a selection of 50 drawings, paintings, and sculptures - illustrating the artist's familiarity with an assortment of mediums, the exhibition, curated by Frank Boehm, spans four floors of the gallery, showcasing Ikemura's haunting and complex visual language and tracing the evolution of her visual vocabulary over the years.

12. Dilmos Milano - In a Nutshell
By Shannon Clegg, Ron Gilad, Marco de Luca and Maurizio Montesion, Daniele Papuli, Alex Pinna, Monica Taverniti
Dilmos Milano, via San Marco, 1

L to R: Lagos by Monica Taverniti and Babeli by Daniele Papuli - part of In a Nutshell at Dilmos Milano | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
L to R: Lagos by Monica Taverniti and Babeli by Daniele Papuli - part of In a Nutshell at Dilmos MilanoImage: Courtesy of Dilmos Milano

As part of Fuorisalone 2021, Dilmos Milano has orchestrated a group exhibition featuring the work of six artists, highlighting the outcome of reflections, revelations, and discourse over periods of forced closure. Displaying works by Shannon Clegg, Ron Gilad, Marco de Luca and Maurizio Montesion, Daniele Papuli, Alex Pinna, and Monica Taverniti, the exhibition hosts an ensemble assortment of objects ranging from architectural forms to delicate shapes, that trace a path laden with differences and common threads.

13. Nilufar Gallery
By Nina Yashar
Nilufar Gallery, via della Spiga, 32

Bethan Laura Wood OrnateShow setting at Nilufar Gallery | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Bethan Laura Wood Ornate Show setting at Nilufar GalleryImage: Mattia Iotti

Nilufar Gallery is hosting installations by Analogia Project, Audrey Large, Bethan Laura Wood, and Filippo Carandini, as part of Milan Design Week 2021, with an eclectic selection of pieces and projects presented by its founder Nina Yashar. Among them, Ornate by Bethan Laura Wood celebrates a 10-year association between the English designer and Yashar. Additionally, Studio Vedèt has curated a selection of works by artist and designer Audrey Large while design studio Analogia Project is exhibiting ARCOIRIS - a series of objects by Andrea Mancuso that serve as a physical experiment in harnessing light.

14. Rossana Orlandi Gallery
By Rossana Orlandi and RoCOLECTIBLE DESIGN 2021
Rossana Orlandi Gallery, Via Matteo Bandello, 14

Rossana Orlandi's Gallery is hosting a varied selection of works by both emerging and established artists and designers | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Rossana Orlandi's Gallery is hosting a varied selection of works by both emerging and established artists and designers Image: Marco Menghi

A staple destination for visitors to Milan Design Week over the years, Rossana Orlandi's gallery is hosting a varied selection of works by both established and upcoming artists and designers such as Yukiko Nagai, Alessandro Ciffo, Annick Petersen, Matteo Casalegno, Tonino Negri, Jean Yves Lanvin, and Benedetta Mori Ubaldini. Aside from this lineup, the gallery will also display collections by Nature Squared and Germans Ermics.

15. Galerie Philia - Rick Owens Dialog with Emerging Italian Designers
By Rick Owens
Spazio CB32, Via Cesare Balbo, 32

Rick Owens Dialog with Emerging Italian Designers  | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Rick Owens Dialog with Emerging Italian Designers Image: Courtesy of Galerie Philia

California-born fashion and furniture designer Rick Owens is known for his distinctive style described as ‘luxe minimalism,’ featuring a signature aesthetic and range of visual archetypes that have exerted an enduring influence on successive designers. Over the course of Milan Design Week 2021, Owens is presenting an exhibition focused on a critical discussion of his works by contemporary Italian designers such as dAM Atelier, Draga & Aurel, Lorenzo Bini, Agustina Bottoni, Samuel Costantini, Cara and Davide, Pietro Franceschini, and Morghen Studio at Spazio CB32. Developing an engaging exchange of ideas between his own oeuvre and those of the featured Italian designers, the exhibition traces Owens’ own impact on the current design climate through a diverse set of viewpoints.

Analogia Project Arcoiris Collection setting at Nilufar Gallery | Galleries and Exhibitions at Salone del Mobile 2021 | STIRworld
Analogia Project Arcoiris Collection setting at Nilufar Gallery Image: Mattia Iotti

Boasting monumental names and an awe-inspiring catalogue of products, this edition of Milan Design Week promises to be a superlative celebration of design, creating a scintillating spectacle that reminds the world of Milan's status as a global design capital.

Click here to read all about STIR at Supersalone, a STIR series on the best of exhibits, moods, studios, events and folks to look out for at Milan Design Week 2021.

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