Alcova in Focus at Milan Design Week 2024

As we approach Milan Design Week, the anticipation builds for the triumphant return of Alcova, now entering its seventh showing since first captivating design enthusiasts in 2018. At the heart of Milan Design Week, this cultural force stands poised to once again challenge and push the boundaries of contemporary design and artistry. Alcova, an avant-garde force in the world of design and contemporary art, stands as a vanguard of innovation and an essential highlight during the renowned Milan Design Week, attracting over 90,000 visitors each year.

What is Alcova?

Founded in Milan five years ago, Alcova has evolved into an annual exhibition showcasing predominantly small-batch designers and brands. Firstly, one of its distinguishing features is the nomadic nature of its exhibitions, as Alcova intentionally avoids repeating locations. This roving approach has seen it transform various spaces, including former factories that produced panettone and cashmere, military hospitals, convents, and even a slaughterhouse, allowing each edition to unfold in a unique and captivating setting.

Initiated by the collaborative efforts of Valentina Ciuffi (Studio Vedèt) and Joseph Grima (Space Caviar), Alcova has become a counterpoint to the growing presence of luxury brands during Milan’s Design Week. While the city welcomed hundreds of thousands of industry professionals seeking ideas for production and sales, Alcova emerged to address a perceived gap. Their nomadic philosophy was born as a result, providing a platform for emerging and experimental product designers who strive for a more sustainable and meaningful impact on the planet.

At its core, Alcova seeks to be more than a traditional exhibition—it aspires to cultivate a vibrant community of interesting individuals, becoming a hub of energy where design is not just about showcased objects but about people converging to produce innovative work and ideas. In essence, Alcova is not just an exhibition; instead, it evolves as a fluid and dynamic entity, coming to life annually (or maybe biannually, after the Miami debut in 2023!).

As a result, Alcova acts as a magnetic force, uniting a mobile, nomadic tribe of designers, thinkers, and enthusiasts. In its unpredictable journey, Alcova consistently offers a stage for creative minds to unveil their work, defy conventions, and enrich the constantly evolving landscape of the design community.

Alcova Through the Years

One of the key factors that sets Alcova apart is its dedicated pursuit of unconventional spaces. As a result, the exhibition has breathed life into abandoned factories, historical landmarks, and repurposed buildings, transforming them into immersive canvases that amplify the impact of the showcased art. Accordingly, the choice of venues is a deliberate reflection of Alcova’s commitment to challenging norms and fostering an environment where creativity knows no bounds.

Unique Locations

2018 — During Salone del Mobile 2018, Alcova materialized as a six-day event in the former panettone factory of G. Cova & Co., spanning 3,000 sqm. The abandoned factory, partially reclaimed by nature with overgrown plants, provided a intriguing backdrop to spotlight designers, galleries, and companies leading the charge in contemporary design and technological innovation.

2019 — Alcova expanded its presence during Fuorisalone 2019, occupying two sites. Alongside the familiar panettone factory, was Alcova Sassetti, a former cashmere factory in Isola, a vibrant and alternative district in Milan. These sites, totaling approximately 3,500 sqm, provided a dynamic platform for over forty international partners.

2020 — During the pandemic, Alcova adapted to the virtual world in response to global circumstances, embracing innovative approaches to connect with its audience.

2021 —  Alcova returned to Milan after a hiatus, breathing new life into the historic Military Hospital of Baggio, situated near the Inganni metro station. Spanning an expansive 3,500 sqm, the exhibition played host to over 50 exhibitors, both indoors and outdoors, creating a dynamic showcase of creativity and design innovation.

2022 —  Alcova revisited the Inganni location, expanding its exploration to new accessible sections. The exhibition also fostered and promoted discussions on the political, ecological, and anthropological dimensions within the realm of design..

2023 Milan — Alcova continued its exploration of Milan in 2023, choosing the former Porta Vittoria abattoir on Via Molise as its new location. The abandoned space became the temporary stage for over 70 projects from international brands and studios.

2023 Miami — Breaking new ground, Alcova made its inaugural international appearance, joining the festivities of Miami Art Week. Taking residence in the iconic Selina Miami Gold Dust Motel, a gem from Miami’s modernist era, Alcova showcased more than 35 projects and actively engaged in public programs and events.

Immersive Storytelling

Thanks to the unique and ever-changing locales, Alcova ensures that its exhibition experience is inherently immersive by design. Each venue, with its distinct history and atmosphere, becomes a canvas for artistic expression, offering visitors an immersive journey into the world of contemporary creativity. Whether it’s a former panettone factory, a historic military hospital, or an iconic modernist motel, Alcova transforms these spaces into dynamic environments where art and design converge to captivate and inspire.

Attendees are invited to embark on a journey, where every piece contributes to a larger narrative, creating a sensory feast that lingers in the mind long after the event concludes. Overall, it’s not just an event to attend; it’s a singular experience that simply can’t be missed.

Alcova 2024

In its highly anticipated 7th showing, Alcova returns to Milan Design Week 2024, unveiling over 70 inspiring projects from global brands and studios. Alcova’s location of 2024 takes us to two historical villas just outside of Milan, Villa Borsani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi.

Villa Borsani

Villa Borsani, an architectural gem nestled amidst the scenic backdrop of Milan, epitomizes timeless elegance and innovation. Designed by the renowned architect Osvaldo Borsani in the 1940s, this captivating residence seamlessly merges modernist aesthetics with functional design principles. With its striking geometric lines, expansive windows, and lush surrounding gardens, Villa Borsani exudes a sense of tranquility and sophistication. Its spacious interiors and picturesque surroundings make it the perfect setting to host Alcova.

Villa Bagatti Valsecchi

Neighboring Villa Borsani and set amidst manicured gardens and charming courtyards, Villa Bagatti Valsecchi exudes an aura of timeless elegance and refined luxury. Moreover, with its lavish interiors adorned with intricate frescoes, ornate furnishings, and exquisite artwork, this villa offers visitors a captivating glimpse into the life of the 19th-century aristocratic Milanese family who lived here. This historical backdrop certainly provides a fascinating contrast for Alcova, which seeks to diverge from the increasing prevalence of luxury brands.

Getting Around:

For those eager to immerse themselves in this unparalleled design experience, reaching Alcova 2024 is a breeze. Visitors can enjoy a simple 25-minute metropolitan railway journey from Milan’s city centre, utilizing the S2 and S4 lines, with trains departing every 15 minutes. For further convenience, transfers to other Metro lines are available at several key stations: Cadorna (M1, M2), Porta Venezia (M2), Porta Garibaldi (M2, 5), Repubblica (M3), and Dateo (M4). This seamless connectivity ensures that accessing the historical elegance of Villa Borsani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi, the main venues of Alcova 2024, is straightforward for all attendees, making the journey an integral part of the Alcova experience.

Experience the convergence of history and innovation at Alcova, where groundbreaking design takes center stage amidst the storied surroundings of Villa Borsani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this unparalleled celebration of creativity. See you there!

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