From Dropcity to Design Variations, from Formafantasma to ICA to LiveInSlums at Assab One, from the Nendo exhibition from Paola Lenti to Vito Nesta with Alessandro Guerriero: a selection of independent events not to be missed during Design Week 2024

There is the "underground" creative community of Dropcity, the one-of-a-kind architecture and design center created by Andrea Caputo in the tunnels under Milan's Central Station, and there is the new Paola Lenti flagship store, in the Maciachini area, a maxi bioecological habitat with greenhouses, wet garden, pollinator green roof, edible forest and tropical patio, which will host Nendo's (highly anticipated) solo exhibition.

The design week, this year more than ever, offers a multitude of addresses and events. Impossible to see everything. This is why it is important to arrive prepared with a reasoned itinerary with the unmissable places.

Here is our choice among the independent and out-of-the-box events that are worth a visit in the dense circuit of the FuoriSalone 2024.

Read the special FuoriSalone 2024</a >

Design Variations

Viale Gorizia 14

It will find space in a garage in the historic Darsena area, completed at the end of the 1940s based on an idea by Marco Zanuso. ,from 15 to 21 April, the selection of MoscaPartners for the fourth edition of Design Variations, a meeting point for designers, brands and universities. To welcome visitors, the site-specific work Corridor by Nathalie Du Pasquier, a graphic tunnel with strong chromatic contrasts, made up of twelve large decorative panels (200x174 cm each) printed on Meg, material by Abet Laminati for the outdoor.

The installation, entitled Hemp_scape, is by Park Associati: a scenography of hemp bricks that designs the indoor area of the three large spaces (3 thousand square meters in total), with the entire supply of hemp blocks which, once the design week is over, will be reused in a residential building project.

Among the many protagonists of Design Variations 2024: Stellar Works with Neri&Hu, Michele De Lucchi, Studio Stefan Scholten, Space Copenhagen and BassamFellows; Woak with Constance Guisset, DWA, Marta Ayala Herrera, /àr-o/ studio and Zaven; Azzurra Ceramica with DGO_Diego Grandi Office & Officina Azzurra; Materica with Matteo Cibic, GuardiniCiuffreda, Storage Milano; Orografie with Giulio Iacchetti, Elena Salmistraro and Lanzavecchia + WAI; One to One with Martinelli/Venezia and Alessandro Stabile. Don't miss the garage sale, organized with a view to reducing waste, on 17 April from 6pm, with the possibility of purchasing exclusive pieces or prototypes on display chosen by designers and brands at a special price.


Magazzini Raccordati, via Sammartini, from tunnel 38 to tunnel 60

After last year's success, from 12 to 21 April it returns to the evocative tunnels under the tracks of the central station Dropcity to reveal with In Progress what will be the architecture and design center conceived and curated by architect Andrea Caputo, whose opening is scheduled for next autumn.

Through a free public program of exhibitions, talks, experiments, DJ sets and sound explorations, live architectural and design interventions, Dropcity will showcase some of the processes, systems, technologies, artefacts and thinking that shape the new center for intellectual and creative freedom, a new urban model with galleries, production laboratories, carpentry, robotics and advanced prototyping laboratories, materials library and public library specializing in architecture and design.

Participating in Dropcity 2024, during the design week, are universities such as Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel, Germany, innovative companies such as Wasp3DPrinting, collectives such as SOCII of Tbilisi and the fifth edition of F/A FakeAuthentic, the 22 emerging designers and artists chosen from the AMArchitectrue studio of Stefania Agosti and Luca Mostarda, a space that will transform into a club in the evening with the sound project by Simone Trabucchi.

Assab One

via Privata Assab 1

“The collaboration with the NGO LiveinSlums, began in 2023 with the design of the furnishings for the refectory and for the dormitory of the Why not Academy of the Mathare slum in Nairobi, he continues with the design and construction of a small architecture built with local residents dedicated to preparing and distributing food for school children, capable of serving up to 300 meals a day".

This is how designer Giacomo Moor talks about the second part of Design for communities, the project curated by Davide Fabio Colaci with Federica strong> Sala, told by Assab One, from 14 to April 28, with the microarchitecture by Giacomo Moor for Mathare, in full scale, and the photographic narration by Alessandro Treves.

Furthermore, do not miss the works of Studio Booboon, Undo-Redo and Héloïse Garro at Assab One.

Paola Lenti Milan - Beyond the gaze

Via Giovanni Bovio 28

It takes vision to go beyond the confines of production. With Beyond the Gaze, from 16 to 21 April, Paola Lenti invites us to discover the its first owned flagship store, in the Maciachini area, a peripheral area north of Milan.

A former industrial complex of 4 thousand square meters redeveloped and transformed into a bioecological architecture with showrooms, lounges, offices, gardens, greenhouses and an exhibition gallery that will feed on contemporary artistic expressions. Here the greenery is not accessory, but is the fulcrum of the project studied with Project Nature, a multidisciplinary studio of architects, scientists and plant researchers coordinated by Professor Stefano strong> Mancuso, an intervention that intends to re-establish harmony between microclimate, biodiversity and landscape.

Nature and built space intersect until they merge, the outdoor products dialogue in symbiosis with plants of different species and seasons, inserted in six different habitats: humid garden, pollinating green roof, edible forest, tropical patio, perennial garden and cocoon, i.e. the green arrangement of the terraces, a muffled and enveloping area populated by evergreens where you can perceive seasonality and change far from the chaos of the city.

The highly anticipated Nendo exhibition entitled "Nendo: whispers of nature" with which the Japanese studio celebrates its 20th participation in the Milan Design Week, a solo show hosted in a small abandoned building, inside the maxi Paola Lenti area, which will become a boutique hotel in 2026.

Oki Sato with his team also interprets the second chapter of the Mottainai project by Paola Lenti, which in Japanese means "don't waste, use the resources you have available": starting from the company's Maris fabric scraps, she creates the Hana-arashi collection of furnishings and accessories, literally the dance of cherry blossom petals in the wind, a hymn to lightness, movement and colour.

I am a dragon. The true story of Alesandro Mendini

Triennale Milano, viale Alemagna 6

The largest and most complete retrospective on the brilliant designer, artist, critic, theorist (but also powerful communicator and performer) who left us in 2019: “I am a dragon. The true story of Alessandro Mendini”, from 13 April to 13 October at the Triennale di Milano.

Curated by Fulvio Irace and set up by Pierre Charpin, through over 400 works from the 1960s to today, the exhibition gives us back for the first time the figure of Mendini in all its complexity.

The title of the exhibition cites the 2006 drawing in which Mendini portrays himself as a dragon, a professional all-rounder with the head of a designer, the body of an architect, the hands of a craftsman, the chest of a manager, the belly of a priest, the legs of a graphic designer, the feet of an artist and poet's tail.

Olivetti. Stories from a collection

Palazzo Arese Borromeo, Cesano Maderno

“Dear Valentine, I want to tell you hereby that I am happy with our friendship and that I will write you many letters.”

It is the dedication present in the illustrated cards of the Valentine instruction manual, designed by Ettore Sottsass with Perry A. King and Alberto Leclerc King for Olivetti in 1968.

The legendary typewriter, together with over 500 communication, graphics and advertising objects are collected in the volume “Olivetti. Stories from a collection" published in January by Ronzani Editore, with the patronage of the Olivetti Historical Archive Association and Tipoteca Italiana, edited by Sergio Polano, recent architecture historian deceased, and by Alessandro Santero, antiquarian bookseller and collector, with the artistic direction of Giorgio Cedolin.

From 13 April to 2 June, the exhibition at Palazzo Arese Borromeo in Cesano Maderno, with installation by M•IA Studio by Cristina Barbiani and Elisabetta Facchinetti, makes us relive the compelling Olivetti years, through projects, drawings, brochures, posters, company books , instruction booklets and catalogues, from the cover by Bruno Munari for the book "25 years of Olivetti" from 1933, the first Italian example of cutting-edge corporate graphics, to the rare brochure "History of Writing" where the poet Leonardo Sinisgalli comments: “A typewritten page is a page written by a mythological hand that has 45 fingers”.

INTERNAL Cross Vision

State University of Milan, Brera Botanical Garden, Portrait Milano, Eataly Milano Smeraldo, Unipol Urban Up - De Castillia 23, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart

Among the addresses to mark on the map is Cross Vision, the great interni exhibition-event, from 15 to 28 April, to celebrate the 70 years of magazinepoint of reference for design and architecture. A maxi program of installations, thematic exhibitions and micro-architectures in six locations in the city: the University of Milan (via Festa del Perdono 7), the Botanical Garden of Brera (via Fiori Oscuri 4), Portrait Milano (corso Venezia 11), Eataly Milano Smeraldo (piazza XXV Aprile 10), Unipol Urban Up - De Castillia 23 (via De Castillia 23), and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Largo Gemelli 1). Read the dedicated article.

Projects for serving, the Castiglionis and catering

Achille Castiglioni Foundation, piazza Castello 27

The exhibition “Projects for serving, the Castiglionis and catering”, from 16 to 21 April at the foundation Achille Castiglioni, curated by Chiara Alessi and Marco Marzini, stages for the first time the catering setups designed by the Castiglioni brothers between the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1970s.

Brilliant spatial solutions for restaurants, pubs, kiosks, refreshment points that no longer exist, therefore a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of those years and relive the enlightened and holistic design approach of the Castiglionis.

“The work on catering is probably the one in which we can best understand the integrated contribution of the Castiglioni brothers at 360 degrees”, says Chiara Alessi, “an intervention that goes from spaces to small and large furnishings, from the care of the image to that of staff flows, from air conditioning systems to lighting, from toilet pictograms to ashtrays (...).

The exhibition investigates how every detail of cuisine à manger is thought of as an efficient machine, or a very ingenious device, to serve the customer, serve the space, serve those who serve.

And it finds a landing in many projects tailor-made to solve the questions of a venue and then entered into production for Italian design factories: the Spinamatic beer dispenser produced by Poretti, the Splugen lamp, later produced by Flos; two elements from the I servi series, produced first by Flos and then by Zanotta; the Spluga stool later produced by Zanotta; the glasses and bottle opener then produced by Alessi, all objects made for the Splügen Bräu beer bar in Corso Europa; while the mirror, later produced by Kartell, and the Castiglietta chair, later Zanotta, were designed, together with tables and trolleys, for the Da Lino Buriassi restaurant in via Lecco".

Graphic design and setup: Marco Marzini with the Achille Castiglioni Foundation, creation of virtual tours and digital reconstruction of évoque lab.

ARTESANOS Manufactura Peruana: A design for Life

Ex Cinema Casoretto, Via Lambrate

ARTESANOS was born in the 70s in Latin America to support the voluntary activities of Operation Mato Grosso (OMG) to educate and educate the poor children of many Latin American communities in art through craft schools, creating cooperatives or allowing them to work independently. Since 2021, the project has been renewed by the curators Luisa Bertoldo and Davide Fabio Colaci who, involving three designers (Maddalena Casadei, Giulio Iacchetti and the Zaven) investigated the possibilities of valorising the techniques of local talleres, mainly manual. For the first time in Milan, the project will showcase the work of the three designers who, although rejecting the vernacular constraint, reinterpret the echo of a thousand-year-old material culture through bright colours, geometric decorations and traditional shapes.

The house inside

ICA Foundation Milan, via Orobia 26

Formafanstama are the protagonists of the solo exhibition La Casa Dentro, curated by Alberto Salvadori, from 10 April to 19 July at the ICA Milan Foundation. A delicate reflection on the domestic dimension, physical space and complex set of human and thematic relationships linked to personal identity and collective memory.

An introspective vision of the house, a meditation on nostalgia for what is lost and on the impossibility of completely unlearning.

Starting from the memories linked to their childhood homes, populated by decorative elements and handmade objects, Formafantasma criticize the dogmas inherited from Modernism, rationality and sobriety at all costs in antithesis to ornament.

“We wanted to move away from this staple of modern design and highlight its implicit ideologies by pairing it with painted or embroidered decorative motifs,” explains the creative duo. “This is not a postmodern pastiche, an ode to camp or kitsch; it is a romantic attempt to give dignity to personal memories and to what is often culturally vilified, the decorative, the pretty and, by extension, the feminine.”

Prada Frames

Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, via Gesù 5

Return to the third edition, from 14 to 16 April, Prada Frames, the multidisciplinary symposium wanted by Prada to investigate the complex relationship between natural environment and design.

A moment of in-depth study and collective scientific and at the same time educational and informative discussion, open to all, upon registration on from 9 April until places last.

The 2024 edition with the title Being Home focuses on the living dimension, not just a private nest and refuge, but a dynamic space that continually evolves, infrastructure of services from which to face contemporary challenges, a habitat capable of historically shaping the socioeconomic norms on which communities are based. The symposium, curated again this year by Formafantasma, sees the contribution of numerous scholars and professionals from different research fields, including Paola Antonelli, Brigitte Baptiste, Kate Crawford, Jack Halberstam, Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Anna Puigjaner, Alice Rawsthorn, Isabella Rossellini and Françoise Vergès.

Kengo Kuma presents Kodama

Showroom Albed, via Gonzaga 7

In 2018 Kengo Kuma creates Kodama, a monumental spherical volume in larch, with a diameter of almost 6 metres, designed for Arte Sella as a cozy place where you can rediscover yourself and be in contact with nature.

An intricate network of geometric shapes, composed of 335 solid wood units, grouped into 154 types of elements inspired by Chidori, the Japanese puzzle that Kuma projected into the world of construction. From Tuesday 16 to Sunday 21 April, the phases of the project and the Kodama studio arrive in Milan in the Albed showroom in the exhibition “Kodama. The spirit of the forest”.

The exhibition will be inaugurated by the Japanese master, protagonist on Sunday 14 April at 4.30 pm of a talk (by invitation) moderated by the curator of the event Marco Imperadori, professor of the Polytechnic of Milan and leading expert as well as friend of Kengo Kuma, with the participation by Taichi Kuma, President of KKAA - Kengo Kuma & Associates, Domitilla Dardi, design historian and curator, Rosa Zambelli, Arte Sella association and Davide Quadrio, MAO Museum of Oriental Art of Turin.

Second Life: 10 10 trees for 10 designer totems

Piazza San Fedele

From 15 to 21 April, in Piazza San Fedele, "Second life: 10 trees for 10 author's totems", the exhibition, curated by Nicoletta Gatti, born following the violent storm that hit Milan on 25 July 2023, causing the felling of over 5 thousand trees.

Some of the felled trees are reborn thanks to the creativity of ten designers: Alessandra Baldereschi, Elena Salmistraro, Federico Peri, Francesco Meda, Giulio Iacchetti, Marco Piva, Mario Trimarchi, Nicoletta Gatti, Studio Pepe and Zanellato/Bortotto.

The wooden totems, after the design week, will be put on display at ADI Design Museum, and in September they will be auctioned; part of the proceeds will be donated to the Municipality of Milan through the "Milan for trees" fundraiser, set up specifically to replant part of the destroyed greenery.

Gaetano Pesce
Nice to see you - The tired man

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, piazza Pio XI 2

It will have another meaning, even more dense and touching, to see the monographic Nice to see you by Gaetano Pesce, the maestro who recently left us. A collection of around thirty works, mostly unpublished, on display in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana from 15 to 23 April.

Furthermore, in Piazza San Pio The great artist-designer should have received the Iulm University Gold Medal for innovation, communication and cultural excellence on April 16 at 6 pm, and should have held a masterclass at the Milanese university.

The event will be transformed, in agreement with the family, into an tribute in memoriam with memories, testimonies and video projections. At the end, the rector Gianni Canova will give Pesce's children the Gold Medal that the maestro had accepted with enthusiasm. The event will be preceded by an introduction by Silvana Annicchiarico.

In the belly of the warrior

Vito Nesta Space, via Ferrante Aporti 16

In the frenetic design week, often dominated by large fashion houses and maxi installations, there is a small gem to discover: the atelier of Vito Nesta in via Ferrante Aporti 16, in the Central station area.

Here the designer of Apulian origins with a cosmopolitan nature surprises us with a collaboration with Alessandro Guerriero, intellectual and designer who founded the Alchimia collective in 1976, Compasso d'Oro in 1982.

Together they give life to Alchimie, a collection of porcelain and accessories and an exhibition curated by Sara Ricciardi, already a pupil of the master and his assistant. On display are plates, cups, cups, trays and amphora vases made in Deruta in porcelain with digital decal, the Mani Anatomica sculpture in Capodimonte porcelain produced in Naples by the Fratelli < strong>Majello, the pouf produced by Tappezzerie Druetta, together with throws, cushions, linen tablecloths and hand-decorated chairs from the 1950s.

"Alchimie wants to be a romantic project, the kind of projects I prefer, those that make you get involved and relate to quality, intentions and fragility", says Alessandro Guerriero.
"Alchimie was born from the idea of creating something that we risk losing somewhat in design", adds Vito Nesta, "that is, the collaborative, alchemical spirit to put it in Alessandro's way, which brings together figures who are distant in age and approach, but close in the romantic inspiration that distinguishes them. With Alessandro, we decided to involve Sara to achieve that transition of energy that takes projects away from self-referentiality. Never before has each of us risk becoming an impenetrable bubble for the other as in this historical moment. Sara's special contribution will be an alchemy within alchemy, an additional opportunity to step outside of ourselves and imagine new relationships thanks to the suggestions triggered by design".

Time Traveler by Nilufar

Viale Lancetti 34

Andrés Reisinger, Analogia Project, Allegra Hicks, Lucia Massari, Objects of Common Interest, Martino Gamper, Bethan Laura Wood, alongside vintage pieces by Gabriella Crespi and Brazilian masters. It'sTime traveler, the exhibition by Nilufar from 15th to April 21st which combines today's signatures with masterpieces and legends of the past.

Future Impact 2

La Rotonda del Pellegrini, via delle Ore 3

È un segnale positivo che quest’anno ci siano molti “sequel” di progetti lanciati negli anni passati. Significa che il FuoriSalone tesse relazioni durature e innesca ricerche complesse che necessitano di tempo, iniziative che continuano e non si esauriscono con la design week.

Un esempio è Future Impact 2, il secondo capitolo della mostra curata da Tony Chambers e Maria Cristina Didero, promossa da DesignSingapore Council, dal 16 al 21 aprile alla Rotonda del Pellegrini.

Protagonisti nove talenti di Singapore: Christian+Jade, David Lee, Faezah Shaharuddin, Genevieve Ang, Interactive Materials Lab, Zavier Wong, Gabriel Tan e Tiffany Loy, autori di soluzioni che immaginano un futuro migliore e minimizzano l’impatto ambientale.

“Attraverso questa mostra, i designer svelano il potenziale trasformativo della tecnologia, segnando un momento cruciale nell'innovazione del design, ma anche nel talento e nella creatività pura, nella cornice unica di un punto di riferimento storico di Milano come la Rotonda del Pellegrini”, racconta Maria Cristina Didero.