The top 10 coolest things at Milan Design Week

I had a wonderful trip to Milan thanks to the awesome folks at Lexus. If you follow me on Instagram it seems like a bunch of pretty pictures made easy. That’s kinda true but it’s also a lot of walking, a lot of editing & organizing, and a lot of trying to keep all your devices charged. That said, here are the top 10 coolest things I saw in Milan, my personal favorites that really got me excited and inspired.


Jia Wu - Player's Pflute

Jia Wu’s Player’s Pflute

Jia Wu, one the Lexus Design Award and Event prototype winners, presented one of my favorite concepts of the entire week. It’s called Player’s Pflute, which is a series of plastic components (like mouthpieces, hole punchers and connectors) that allow you to turn vegetables into musical instruments. Weird, right? I’m drawn to this because it’s so ridiculous and fun, and honestly, I didn’t see a ton of this kind of playfulness while I was in Milan.

Click through to read more about the Lexus Design Award and Event.


Video thanks to Jessica Dunn

Triennale, 20123 Milan


Valextra Milano store, designed by Snarkitecture

Snarkitecture and Valextra win TheDesignPrize

This isn’t a brand new space, but it’s certainly a space that many are buzzing about right now. This is the Valextra Milano flagship store, designed by Alex Mustonen and Daniel Asharm of Snarkitecture, who are recipients of TheDesignPrize. The space was recognized for the “Shop Design and Retail” category.

I was able to stop by the space the other night and it’s truly a lovely experience. The ceiling is drape din flowing sheets of white mesh that unite the space in an ethereal manner. That paired with Valextra’s curation of bags in the store, nothing but whites, greys, and creams, it’s a stunning combination.

Via Manzoni, 3, 20121 Milano


COS x Studio Swine

COS X Studio Swine

“Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere and not a drop to drink!” That’s the phrase that kept running through my head when I first saw this collaboration between COS (probably my favorite clothing brand at this point) and Studio Swine, made up of Japanese Architect Azusa Murakami and British Artist Alexander Groves.

Their collaboration has yielded what I’d call a high-tech tree that regularly sprouts giant, soapy bubbles that are each filled with smoke. It’s hypnotic to watch as these bubbles form an fall of the tree, like ethereal fruit, and absolutely delightful to encounter in person. You honestly feel like a child standing there, mouth agape, because the bubbles are strong enough for you to hold in your hands. The bubbles also smell amazing, which gives rise to the question, is a new COS scent on the way?

Cinema Arti
Via Pietro Mascagni, 8
Milano, 20122


Green Brewing branding by Lucy Alter Design

Green Brewing branding by Lucy Alter Design

This is a delight from Lucy Alter Design that I quite enjoyed. Lucy Alter is the studio of two Japanese guys, Satoshi Aoyagi and Mikito Tanimoto, who together are doing some really great work.

I found their work while browsing at the Triennale, coming across their branding effort for Green Brewing, a Japanese tea company. I love the simplicity they sought in both color and typography which reflects the purity of the tea itself. The type is extremely well laid out and the overall packaging is very well-executed.

Triennale, 20123 Milan


Giovanni Maria Filindeu x Foscarini

Fare Luce @ Foscarini Spazio Brera

There were a few experiences at Milan Design Week that you could walk around in and this was certainly one of my favorites. Giovanni Maria Filindeu worked together with lighting brand Foscarini to create Fare Luce, an immersive experience in the heart of Berra that let you walk through and experience lighting in unique installations.

There was the mirrored room, the ancient citadel, the rainbow road, the veiled room, and more. It made for many Instagrammable moments, which might sound gross, but there was nothing but smiles on everyone’s faces.

Check out #fareluce on Instagram to see what I mean.

Via Fiori Chiari, 28, Milan


Marc Ange - Le Refuge- Wallpaper* Hand made

Marc Ange’s Le Refuge at Wallpaper* Handmade

If I had to guess I wouldn’t have imagined that a bed would have been on my “coolest things” list, but when the bed is made of pink palm leaves, how can you resist?

This masterpiece was designed by Marc Ange and was exhibited at the Wallpaper* Handmade exhibit, which overall was one of my favorite exhibits. It’s described as “a contemplative, palm-shaded daybed installation in a lush fantasy setting, by the Green Gallery, in the Mediateca garden.” I think it’s the bed of my dreams!

Mediateca di Santa Teresa
Via della Moscova 28, Milano


TOILETPAPER BAR! Milan Design Week

TOILETPAPER BAR!

Continuing my love for the work inhabiting the Wallpaper* Hand Made space was the TOILETPAPER BAR! This is literally a physical manifestation of the magazine, an aesthetic overload sprung from the mind of Maurizio Cattelan.

Kyle and I grabbed a couple of proseccos from the friendly bartenders and worked here for a while, it was actually quite nice if you’re comfortable being surrounded by walls and floors covered in spaghetti wallpaper.

Mediateca di Santa Teresa
Via della Moscova 28, Milano


The Visit by Studiopepe - Milan Design Week

The Visit by Studiopepe

Refinement, sophistication, drool worthy. Those are probably the words I’d use to describe the impeccably designed apartment simply called The Visit. Located in the heart of Breta, Studiopepe has curated a perfect vision of what an apartment could be, you know, if you could afford dozens of designer pieces and a space with huge rooms and high ceilings.

The space included pieces from designers like Agape, Agapecasa, Aytm, Bang & Olufsen, Bulthaup, Camo, cc-tapis, FENIXNTM, Florim, Green Wise, Lambert Et Fils, Leftover, L’Opificio, Molteni&C, Shuj, Vitra and so many more. They did a fantastic job, but I’ll still to my own eclectic style—lots of random tchotchkes that have personal meaning.

Via Palermo, 1, Milano


Elle Decor Concept Store - Milan Design Week

Elle Decor concept store

Spotted this concept while walking around Milan and what drew me in was the bright pink signage and typography, I couldn’t say no. Basically, Elle Decor created a Concept Store that looked at the future of shopping and what that might look like.

Elle Decor Concept Store - Milan Design Week

It was a bit tough figuring out what their point was exactly, but there was lots of VR, selfie spots, a coffee conveyer belt, and lots more. Aesthetically the space was decked out with perfect furniture and lots of beautiful accessories that gave me a ton of ideas for my own apartment.

Palazzo Bovara, corso Venezia 51, Milano


Formafantasma - Milan Design Week

Formafantasma

Thanks to our friends Josh and Evan, Kyle and I had a chance to speak with Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma, one of the hottest design duos out there. Not only are they super rad guys, their multiple lighting designs featured at Milan Design Week were some of the stand outs.

Formafantasma - Blush Lamp - Flos

First there was their collection with Flos, the Blush Lamp (which you can see above) and the WireRing, both of which were physically minimal while having a very robust, and in the one case colorful, output. The second was their exhibit at Foundation at Spazio Krizia where they featured their lamp concepts that helped to form their ideas for the Flos collection.

April 7, 2017 / By

Zaha Hadid designs a museum fit for a Bond villain

Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones

©San Vigilio – Associazione Turistica

What better way to celebrate the life and achievements of a mountain climber than to build a museum into a mountain? That was the approach Zaha Hadid Architects took for the recently completed MMM Corones, an institution in the Italian alps dedicated to climber Reinhold Messner. For me it feels like a hidden lair of an evil genius, or perhaps the buried wreckage of an alien spacecraft? That’s exactly why I enjoy this building so much as it’s form is traditionally unexpected (although not necessarily surprising that it came from Hadid). It’ll be even more beautiful once the vegetation covers more of it, further blending it into the landscape.

Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones

© MMM Corones

Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones

© Wisthaler

August 3, 2015 / By

Max Touhey photographs Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center

Max Touhey photographs Eero Saarinen's terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport,

Max Touhey photographs Eero Saarinen's terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport,

Eero Saarinen, famed architect and industrial designer, is well-known for the TWA Flight Center at JFK, a futuristic looking terminal that still stands as an iconic masterpiece. These days the space is no longer open to the public, yet photographer Max Touhey was given access to document the space, which surprisingly is still in amazing shape. Curbed NY has his collection of photos which highlight so many of the beautiful details of the space, which supposedly will be transformed into a 500 room hotel by JetBlue. This news may not please everyone though I’m happy to hear that people may yet again regularly inhabit the space.

July 9, 2015 / By

Vaulted Willow, a colorful pavilion that looks like it could walk

Vaulted Willow, a colorful pavilion that looks like it could walk

When I think of the word “pavilion” I imagine standard 2×4 pieces of lumber slated together to make the most mundane of barbecue shelters. Architect Marc Fornes and his firm THEVERYMAN has succeeding in creating the opposite, a brightly colored shelter made from aluminum shingles that together create an amorphous blog that looks like it’s ready to slither across the land, titling it the Vaulted Willow. These are the objects I’d love to see popping up in more places, a thoughtful piece of architecture that tries to incorporate organic and natural forms.

February 23, 2015 / By

The Stone House transformation by Wespi de Meuron Romeo architects

The Stone House transformation by Wespi de Meuron Romeo architects

A little bit of old, a little bit of new. That’s what Wespi de Meuron Romeo architects have put together with their Stone House transformation in Scaiano, Switzerland. The space is fresh and contemporary in so many ways, with the glass filled cutouts, polished concrete floors and ample amounts of light.

This concept allows on the one hand the authentic conservation of the historic stone façade, which tells the history of the house and on the other hand, it generates zenith light for the rooms with exceptional light reflections. It would not have been possible otherwise to get sunlight into the rooms, in such a village structure with narrow streets.

In my opinion this looks like the ultimate getaway. Think it’s available on Airbnb? You can see more photos of the entire renovation on designboom.

Photo © Hannes Henz

February 17, 2015 / By

The WarkaWater Tower: Drawing Water From The Air

WarkaWater Architecture And Vision 2

When I was working on a now cancelled socially conscious news show, I was responsible for producing a few segments that were high tech shows-and-tell that showed how technology can benefit the developing world. This meant that I was constantly trolling design websites to find objects like Yves Behar’s Kernel Diagnostic and Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun, doing my best to get my hands on them to share. This was often a difficult, frustrating task but the results were always remarkable.

This has left a special place in my heart for design projects with good intentions, ones that seek to offer solutions through creativity. While reading Wired recently, something caught my attention that certainly fit into this world and, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about flying a prototype out to Los Angeles: Architecture and Vision has created a “water tower” out of bamboo that extracts water from the air, harvesting the resource for those in dry environments. It’s a novel idea executed in an exceptional way.

The WarkaWater Tower: Drawing Water From The Air

The WarkaWater Tower: Drawing Water From The Air

The tower—which they call WarkaWater, after the Ethiopian Warka tree—is composed of bamboo poles wrapped in a thin mesh net that catches water from rain, fog, dew, etc. It all funnels into a water tank and, apparently, it can collect almost thirty gallons of water a day. It requires no electricity, requires less than a grand to build, and is even designed to keep birds away.

The project is literally huge and has gone through many design incarnations, their most recent being the most viable, useful effort. Yet, like many designs for social good, the funding for clever projects like this is quite minimal and the creators have turned to Kickstarter for funding. They’re raising money through mid-February and, if successful, they should be able to start more serious testing of the tower this year—and they hope to employ the towers in Ethiopia in the next three years.

January 14, 2015 / By

Flawed One World Trade Center Is a Cautionary Tale

Flawed 1 World Trade Center Is a Cautionary Tale

New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman takes the design and concept of the new World Trade Center building to task, disappointed by the lack of vision for such an important New York building/monument.

Instead, the building, built as if on a dare to be the tallest, required unprecedented fortifications at astronomical costs, on an immensely difficult site. Mr. Childs faced a nearly impossible task: devising a tower at once somber and soaring, open and unassailable, dignified but not dull. He envisioned an elaborate antenna and a tapered base. Both ideas were vetoed, among much else. The building didn’t end up exactly as the architect pictured it. Few buildings do. I’m not sure that the differences are what tipped the scale.

Uninspired and more like a bank vault than a space for culture to thrive. As Kimmelman rightly points out, this “idea was brushed aside by the political ambitions of former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, a Republican, and the commercial interests of Larry Silverstein, the developer with a controlling stake at the site, among other forces pressing for a mid-20th-century complex of glass towers surrounding a plaza.” Missed opportunity.

December 1, 2014 / By

Is this Simple But Elegant Home the Perfect Lake-Side Retreat?

2by4 Architects - Island Home

Almost 20% of the total area of the Netherlands is water, with many parts of the county reclaimed from the sea through an extensive system of dykes that date back as far as medieval times. For this reason, the Dutch have always had a fairly special relationship with water. You can see this in so many aspects of what they do, from amazing bridges to beautiful public ponds, their unique appreciation for lakes, rivers and the sea has always lead to interesting work.

I recently came across this wonderful recreational island home by 2by4 Architects and quickly feel for its simplistic charms. Completed in 2011, the home offers an ideal rural getaway that boasts large glass walls and a slide-away wall that opens up directly onto the water. It looks like the perfect place for an outdoor retreat.

2by4 Architects - Island Home

2by4 Architects - Island Home

Found on a man-made island on the Dutch lake of Loosdrechtse Plas, the home is designed to be completely customized depending on the owners needs. On warm days the northern facade opens towards the water, turning the wooden floor of the living room into a jetty. On winter days the home looks just as good, offering a freestanding fire to snuggle up to as you look out over the countryside.

2by4 Architects - Island Home

While only 100 meters in size, the home still looks quite spacious and comfortable with a shower, toilet, kitchen, closets, storage and other functions are all integrated into a double wall. It all looks perfect!

2by4 Architects - Island Home

Hat tip to Dwell for the discovery. You can see more images of the home on 2by4 Architects’ website.

November 14, 2014 / By

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