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Milan Design Week 2023: Everything you need to know about the mecca of design

As Milan transforms itself into a festival of all things design, STIR summarises everything you need to know about Euroluce 2023, Fuorisalone, design districts, and installations.

by STIRworldPublished on : Apr 12, 2023

The ensemble activities of the city of Milan, its numerous events, exhibition and installations that make up Fuorisalone can be intimidating for those visiting the city during the design week. Organised by different districts in the city, these are geographically demarcated. Some of these districts include Brera Design Week, Tortona Design Week, Tortona Rocks, 5Vie Art and Design, Alcova, Milano Design District, Triennale Milano, and many more city-wide design activations. A key element of Milan Design Week (and so Fuorisalone) is the fact that brands, collectives and designers take over historical districts, buildings, and even palazzos to showcase creative design installations. It is an alternate method of discovering the city with several new locations used as receptacles of design. The April 2023 edition of Fuorisalone, entitled 'Laboratorio Futuro,' proposes a reflection on how we imagine our future, in relation to the uniqueness of the times in which we are living now.

Here is a brief overview of what to expect at Milan Design Week 2023.

Euroluce 2023

With 'light' as the underlying and overarching theme, Salone del Mobile.Milano's 61st edition announced a rethought trade fair model, with the lighting biennial Euroloce making a return. Under the curation of Italian architect Beppe Finessi, Euroluce 2023 will transform into a 'positive hub' of emotions and knowledge through its interdisciplinary cultural content. The heart of the biennial will be taken over by Aurore, an expansive plaza conceived by studio Formafantasma. Building on the concept of The City of Lights, Lombardini22’s vision for the 31st edition of Euroluce will feature four pavilions, based on principles of 'design for all.'

Italian furniture brand Turri is set to redefine contemporary luxury in their newly announced twin booths at Salone del Mobile, showcasing collections from Paola Navone-OTTO Studio, Matteo Nunziati, Giuseppe Vigan, Huang Quan, and others, while Italian design brand SICIS will reinterpret 'eklektikos' for their new collection launch of pieces that combine ancient and modern, decorative, and essential styles. Italian luxury furnishing brand Visionnaire will also be presenting its new collection, while Preciosa Lighting will showcase its new signature design juxtaposing auditory and visual senses with an installation blending music and light. Other brands exhibiting fresh designs at Euroluce 2023 include Ingo Maurer, who will present their new pendant light, Signature, Italian lighting company Design Davide Groppi will introduce Asintoto, the first lamp of their Novelties 2023 collection, and Vancouver-based lighting design studio A-N-D presenting their Iris ceiling and wall lamp.

Design Districts

5Vie Art and Design

This year's title, 'Design for Good,' is intended as an invitation to look at design as a tool for creating and cultivating deep human connections, with a focus on sustainability rooted in mutual care. This year's exhibitions and installations at 5VIE address themes such as spirituality, the connection with nature, the relationship with one's historical roots, the drama of incommunicability and the notion of connection. Highlighting the poetic connection between aesthetics and what is good, the central theme is about design becoming a language capable of connecting human beings beyond all borders and diversity and it turns into a tool for constructing values.

Here, French design brand Maison Matisse will release its latest collection of living room and bedroom furniture as well as rugs and blankets in partnership with British artist Faye Toogood. Lebanese designer Richard Yasmine's exposition titled Silent Hollows, featuring sculptural mirrors will be presented alongside Sebastiano Deva's virtual creations. Human Mandala by Sara Ricciardi exhibited at this district is a celebration of the interconnectedness of human beings.

<i>Ich und Du</i> by Matter of Course at 5vie Art and Design | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Ich und Du by Matter of Course at 5vie Art and Design Image: Amir Farzad

Alcova at Porta Vittoria

Founded in 2018, every iteration of Alcova takes over a historical quarter or space. With its fifth edition coming up, Alcova prepares to continue its exploration of the city of Milan with a new venue at the former Porta Vittoria abattoir. Conceived by Joseph Grima (founder of Space Caviar) and Valentina Ciuffi (founder of Studio Vedèt), the idea is for the various exhibitions to spontaneously take over the sites.

Founders of Alcova 2023, Valentina Ciuffi and Joseph Grima | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Founders of Alcova 2023, Valentina Ciuffi and Joseph Grima Image: Delfino Sisto Legnani

Brera Design District

The 14th edition of Brera Design Week is structured around the theme 'The Future is Now'. With over 240 events scheduled, this edition officially marks the event's complete return to a live in-person event. Promoting the theme proposed by Fuorisalone, 'Future Lab,' Brera Design Week 2023 stimulates thought on the challenges of contemporaneity, giving space to projects and practices capable of triggering positive change. Curated by Studiolabo, Brera Design Week 2023 will be a lens on the topical issues that most interest the design industry, from material innovation to circular economy, passing through new market challenges between online and offline experiences, with a focus on fresh ways of involving and capturing the interest of the new generations. SolidNature's exhibit at Brera will guide visitors Beyond The Surface, an exposition at MDW replete with installations and works by Sabine Marcelis, Studio Ossidiana, Bita Fayyazi, Ward Strootman, and Ellen Van Loon and Giulio Margheri from OMA.

  • <i>The Secret Garden 2</i> illustration for Brera Design District | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    The Secret Garden 2 illustration for Brera Design District Image: ©Bene
  • <i> You Are Here</i> by Yamaha Design Lab at MDW23 | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    You Are Here by Yamaha Design Lab at MDW23 Image: ©YAMAHA

Isola Design District

Now in its seventh edition, over 25 locations will host group exhibitions and events involving hundreds of international designers, design studios and craftsmen. The programme includes six group exhibitions focusing on themes such as circular and regenerative furniture, collectable design and new craftsmanship, design tech and wellness.

Isola Design Gallery at Isola Design District | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Isola Design Gallery at Isola Design DistrictImage: ©IAMMI Studio

Milano Durini Design

For the 2023 edition, Milano Durini Design is transforming itself into Milano Design District. This new in-house concept is meant to bring together the city centre's flagship design stores in a spirit of cohesion and partnership. The aim is to create a collaborative partnership project to unite design excellence in the city centre.

Left: Milano Design District; Right: Porro at Milano Durini Design | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Left: Milano Design District; Right: Porro at Milano Durini Design Image: Courtesy of Milano Durini Design

Tortona District

Returning with a brand-new look that will bring together the different parts of the district’s identity, namely, Tortona Rocks, BASE, Superstudio and Tortona Design Week, the district becomes the spokesperson for current issues seen through the lens of design, with the aim of responding to the challenges of tomorrow. The multifaceted roster of design-related events and exhibitions at Tortona include Kristina Dam’s Terra curated by Studiopepe.

<i>ELEMENTS - TCL Green Horizon</i> by TCL DEC at Tortona District
ELEMENTS - TCL Green Horizon by TCL DEC at Tortona District Image: Courtesy of Tortona District


Milan Design Week is a harmonic symphony of collective presentation. Individual projects featuring collective presentations and group shows are a key feature of the week-long festivities. Some of the highlights this year include, a trip inside the Magazzini Raccordati of the Central Station, where one will encounter Dropcity Centro di Architettura e Design. Conceived by architect Andrea Caputo, the project is supported by a host of exhibitions, installations, conferences and talks with the participation of international architects and designers. 'Inspiration Innovation Imagination' are the three words that encapsulate the Superdesign Show this year. Questioning the future and following a common thread, Superdesign Show, Superstudio’s annual event for the Milan Design Week, will stage a series of spectacular and challenging installations that are informative and speculative. At Triennale Milano, in addition to the permanent exhibitions, one can visit the much anticipated Droog30, co-produced with Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam and curated by Maria Cristina Didero and Richard Hutten. The Lisa Ponti exhibition, Drawings and Voices, curated by Salvatore Licitra and Damiano Gullì, will also be on display. Rossana Orlandi returns again this year with the Ro Plastic Prize, an award that is part of the RO Guiltless Plastic project. Over the years, the event has seen more than 1800 participants, with an average age of 35, from 60 different countries covering all five continents. The award has three categories—collectable art and design, emerging high technology, and inspiring learning projects.

  • <i>INDIVENIRE.2</i> by Laboratorio San Rocco at Superdesign Show in Tortona District | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    INDIVENIRE.2 by Laboratorio San Rocco at Superdesign Show in Tortona District Image: Courtesy of SUPERSTUDIO
  • <i>Out of the Box</i> by Metoda at Superdesign Show in Tortona District | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    Out of the Box by Metoda at Superdesign Show in Tortona District Image: Courtesy of SUPERSTUDIO

Design… but make it Fashion

Milan is a design mecca not just for interior and product design. But various verticals of the design itself, including fashion design. During MDW, one can often spot collaborations between international fashion labels and designers. Such as Bottega Veneta’s collaboration with Gaetano Pesce, which will be on display at the brand's Milan store. Created using resin and fabric the bags will feature mountains with sunrise or sunset behind. Fashion brand Issey Miyake will feature two key launches during the week; A-POC is teaming up with design company Nature Architects to showcase the Thinking Design, Making Design: Type-V Nature Architects project, to create product prototypes made from just one piece of fabric. The second is an extension of Tokujin Yoshioka’s ‘O’ watch series for the brand. This new series is titled O-Bold. Taking a different approach, Prada is not collaborating directly with a specific designer. Much like last year, they are hosting Prada Frames 2023. In what is perhaps turning into an annual symposium, the three-day long event will be curated by Formafantasma and hosted at Luigi Caccia Dominioni's Teatro Filodrammatici from April 17-19.

Prada Frames 2023 symposium by Prada at Milan Design Week 2023 | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Prada Frames 2023 symposium by Prada at Milan Design Week 2023 Image: Courtesy of Prada Frames

Collaborations—design, art and architecture

Milan Design Week is also the perfect time for brands to partner with some of the most creative practitioners to present unique designs. Take for instance, Kohler's 'The Creator’s Journey', an installation at Palazzo del Senato where it will be presenting four limited artist editions, to celebrate its 150th anniversary, with an installation by Janet Echelman. Luxury vehicle brand Lexus and New York-based architect and artist Suchi Reddy will be showcasing an immersive installation titled Shaped by Air at Superstudio Più (Art Point), Via Tortona. The large-scale installation is inspired by the shape of Lexus Electrified Sport. Not to be left behind, tech giant Google has teamed up with water, light and sound artist Lachlan Turczan to create Shaped by Water.

  • <i>The Creator’s Journey</i> by Kohler at Milan Design Week 2023 | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    The Creator’s Journey by Kohler at Milan Design Week 2023 Image: Courtesy of Kohler
  • <i>Shaped by Air</i> by Suchi Reddy, presented by Lexus during Milan Design Week 2023 | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    Shaped by Air by Suchi Reddy, presented by Lexus during Milan Design Week 2023 Image: Courtesy of Reddymade Architecture and Design

Preciosa has previously exhibited at the design fair and as part of the Milan Design Week with its headline installations, including Breath of Light (2018), Carousel of Light (2019), and Composition in Crystal (2022). The company’s visionary creative team maintains a long-standing mission to bring light to life and connect with people through engaging and memorable experiences. Continuing the legacy, Preciosa is set to present yet another experiential installation in Milan, Italy, playing with auditory and visual senses. "We want to create more than just beautiful lighting; our passion and vision are to connect with people, bring memorable moments, and create opportunities for people to smile,” share Vasku and Klug.

<i>Crystal Beat</i> installation by Preciosa Lighting at Salone del Mobile | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Crystal Beat installation by Preciosa Lighting at Salone del Mobile Image: Courtesy of Preciosa Lighting

Dutch lifestyle brand Moooi has collaborated with Argentinian digital artist and designer Andrés Reisinger for a new collection of carpets set to be displayed at Via San Gregorio, 29 as part of the Milan Design Week 2023. Moooi will also present fresh objects designed by Nika Zupank and IDEO, extending their list of exciting collaborations and launches at the design fair, while Moroso will present brand new designs by Zanellato Bortotto, Elena Sanguankeo and Front, alongside the unveiling of a new installation by Studio Urquiola led by Patricia Urquiola. Italian designer Luca Nichetto is set to showcase bespoke designs from various realms, ranging from furniture to lighting to product designs, staying true to the studio’s philosophy of designing concepts that can objectify just as well into a pencil, a chair, a building or a brand.

  • Chair from Oracle Bone Script by Kar Studio (left), set of abstract shell lights by Elsa Foulon (right) at Galerie Philia | STIRworld
    Chair from Oracle Bone Script by Kar Studio (left), set of abstract shell lights by Elsa Foulon (right) at Galerie Philia Image: Courtesy of Galerie Philia
  • Sculpted Series by Gufram and Snarkitecture| Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    Sculpted Series by Gufram and Snarkitecture Image: Courtesy of Gufram

Contemporary sculptural design and art gallery Galerie Philia will conclude its sacred trilogy with their 2023 exhibition, Desacralized, that is set to explore the notion of desacralisation, by tweaking functionality from religious concepts, including works by Rick Owens, Draga & Aurel, Andres Monnier, Pietro Franceschini, Willem van Hooff, and more. Long-standing collaborators Gufram and Snarkitecture will unveil Sculpted Series, a family of domestic sculptures that inspire a total living at the design festival.

STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2023 showcases the best exhibitions, studios, designers, installations, brands, and special projects to look out for. Explore Euroluce 2023 and all the design districts—5Vie Art and Design, Brera Design District, Fuorisalone, Isola Design District, Tortona District, and Milano Design District—with us.

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