Ashiesh Shah lists top 16 things to do in Milan during Salone del Mobile
In the world of design few events generate as much buzz as Salone del Mobile in Milan. Whether you’re in the city by chance or choice, it’s most certainly the best time to be there.
Milan’s cobbled streets and hidden courtyards are never more alive than during the time of the Milan Furniture Fair as the city itself is converted into endless design gallery.
There’s so much to pack in, but here’s my list of 16 must visit spots.
1. The initiatives taking place in downtown Milan present a more than average design experience. Nevertheless, Salone del Mobile, Milan fairgrounds spark all the excitement and is a great place to shop.
2. Don’t miss Salone Satellite – an event dedicated to designers under the age of 35. Past editions have included designers like Isabel Ahm, Viichen Design, Markus Johansson among many more.
3. The Fuorisalone acts as a corollary to the fair and offers a collection of off-site events in the city. The week-long event places the city’s historic and emerging cultural districts in the limelight.
4. Brera is an artsy neighbourhood that houses one of Milan’s most important fine art schools, the Pinacoteca Art Academy. The district has several antique shops, art and design galleries, showrooms and stores. The destination is a must visit all year round, but it has a particularly engaging vibe during Milan Design Week.
5. Tortona, which is named after a single street, is an area that becomes a major design district during the event. Lined with stores, galleries and experimental spaces, the district attracts unconventional, experimental and original designers. Along with the big names, it is also the best place to discover new talent.
6. La Triennale di Milano is one of the city’s most interesting spaces. The spacious design museum is located in the Park Sempione, which is a mere 10 minute walk from Duomo of Milan. The museum is open all year round and features high profile exhibitions and an extensive permanent collection.
7. 5 VIE Art + Design is one of the city’s oldest districts that has become an emerging venue for art and design. It is one of the best kept secrets of Milan with an astounding collection of spaces dedicated to showcasing Italian handicrafts and old master pieces along with contemporary design.
8. Some other recommended museums include the Museo del Novecento, Museo Archeologico, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano, Castello Sforzesco Museums and Galleria d'Arte Moderna.
9. Fondazione Prada, one Milan’s most popular arts and cultural spaces, is a complex of structures anchored by the striking Haunted House building that’s covered in 24-carat gold foil. Once a distillery dating back to the early 20th century, the space was completely reimagined and overhauled by Pritzker Prize winner Rem Koolhaas’s firm OMA.
10. Fondazione Forma, which opened around five years ago in a disused tramway warehouse, is an international centre for photography and first of its kind in Milan to offer a print lab, an exhibition space, a school, a bookshop and a restaurant.
11. Mercato Comunale is a 1940s public market replete with traditional Italian butchers and newly-arrived Peruvian and Argentinean grocers. It is a lively, colourful and aromatic meeting point for Milanese of all ages, right by the canals at Porta Ticinese.
12. Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro is Milan's answer to Tate Modern Museum, New York and is located in a former 1926 turbine hall. The museum, which bears the name of the great Italian sculptor, Arnaldo Pomodoro, opened its doors in September 2005 and is primarily dedicated to sculptures.
13. Il Libraccio offers the best book bargains in town and the secondhand section extends to another shop opposite. Don't miss the art and architecture section with more than 5,000 titles, among them small publishers' books.
14. Villa Necchi Campiglio, located outside the Chiesa Rossa, is worth a trip. Built between 1932 and 1935 by Milanese architect Piero Portaluppi, the space has been left unchanged since then.
15. Il Bar at the Bulgari Hotel Milano is a must-visit. There isn’t a more picturesque cocktail bar in town than the one here, bearing a hidden garden lined with boxwood topiaries at the hotel.
16. Ugo Bar is named for a Northern Italian aperitif and serves craft cocktails in a dimly lit warren of rooms just off the Naviglio Grande.