Milan Design Week: What You Should Know

Italy’s profound impact on the world of design is a testament to its remarkable blend of enduring innovation and cultural richness. Spanning centuries, Italian design has evolved into a powerhouse, leaving an indelible mark on the global stage. From the lavish aesthetics of the Renaissance to the contemporary sophistication embodied by iconic brands like Ferrari and Prada, Italy’s design legacy is a journey through time and style. The city of Milan, a dynamic hub where echoes of the past harmonize with the pulse of the present, serves as the ideal setting for Milan Design Week.

This annual event is a dazzling showcase that attracts design enthusiasts and industry professionals from around the world. Milan Design Week is a kaleidoscope of creativity, featuring exhibitions, installations, and presentations that highlight the pinnacle of design excellence across various disciplines. The upcoming seventh edition of Alcova, scheduled for April 15-21, 2024, adds an eagerly anticipated dimension to Milan Design Week. This nomadic exhibition will serve as a platform to showcase experimental design and contemporary architecture, as well as facilitate an optimal environment for insightful discussions.

History of Milan Design Week

Milan Design Week, born as the Salone del Mobile in 1961, has evolved into a global phenomenon. Through the decades, it expanded its reach, gaining international acclaim for cutting-edge designs and trends. The 1990s marked a pivotal moment with the emergence of Fuorisalone, democratizing the experience beyond official exhibition spaces.

In the 21st century, Milan Design Week has undergone a revitalization, expanding its scope to encompass a broad spectrum of design disciplines while also incorporating a strong emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility. This transformative evolution has elevated the event into a dynamic celebration of creativity and innovation, redefining its significance in the global design landscape.

A notable feature of Milan Design Week is its annual thematic focus. For 2024, the spotlight is on ‘Materia Natura.’ This theme underscores a commitment to promoting sustainability within the realm of design, encouraging participants to explore and showcase environmentally conscious practices. Consequently, Milan Design Week not only serves as a platform for the latest design trends and innovations but also plays a pivotal role in advancing the discourse on sustainable and socially responsible design practices. This reflects the contemporary values that are currently shaping the design industry.

Who will be at Milan Design Week?

Milan Design Week annually plays host to over 2,000 dynamic and creative global brands, drawing more than 370,000 professional visitors. Around 70% of these attendees hail from 188 different countries, creating a truly international environment. The event not only attracts industry professionals but also captures the attention of over 5,000 national and international journalists. Furthermore, the exhibitions draw approximately 27,500 members of the public during the weekend.

Milan Design Week embodies a diverse blend, presenting both emerging talents and established artists. The event cultivates an atmosphere for idea exchange and collaborative efforts. Consequently, in its 62nd year, Milan Design Week has firmly established itself as an international platform, showcasing the cutting-edge trends in design and standing as an essential event across the industry. It has become an unmissable sector-wide event.

Milan Design Week & Alcova 2024: Villa Borsani & Villa Bagatti Valsecchi

In its highly anticipated 7th showing, Alcova returns to Milan Design Week 2024, unveiling over 70 inspiring projects from global brands and studios. Renowned for its commitment to redefining traditional design exhibits, this dynamic event stands out with its distinctive and ever-changing venues. For this year, Alcova will showcase its array of projects within the historic ambiance of two prestigious Milanese villas: Villa Borsani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi.

Villa Borsani, a design and architectural gem dating back to 1945, is a visual feast that reveals the intricately layered modernist style of renowned designer Osvaldo Borsani. The villa showcases distinctive elements, including a Lucio Fontana fireplace, distinctive mosaic work, and a lush garden, offering a captivating glimpse into the essence of modernist aesthetics. Neighboring is the 19th-century Villa Bagatti Valsecchi, which stands as a testament to Lombardy’s rich architectural heritage. Distinguished by a notable portico adorned with 15th-century columns from Milan’s Lazzaretto, the villa is surrounded by formal Italian and English-style gardens, creating a timeless and enchanting atmosphere that resonates with the region’s historical charm.

Alcova’s unique appeal goes beyond its captivating showcase and itinerant nature. Founders Valentina Ciuffi and Joseph Grima emphasize its crucial role in fostering radical young design talent. Their nomadic strategy is geared towards curating a “designed experience” that evolves annually. This approach is thoughtfully planned to prevent any adverse impact on the local economy. Since its launch in 2018 by Ciuffi and Grima, Alcova has not only thrived but evolved into a pioneering platform. It provides a significant stage for designers who courageously challenge the norms of traditional design.

Milan Design Week Main Events and Venues

Salone del Mobile

At the heart of Milan Design Week is the Salone del Mobile, the central trade fair located at Milan’s Rho Fiera fairgrounds. This central exhibition serves as a dynamic canvas spotlighting the avant-garde creations of international designers. The significance of this year is underscored by the 25th anniversary of SaloneSatellite, an event dedicated to young and emerging designers. This milestone signals a heightened emphasis on designers under 35, promising a distinct focus on emerging talents throughout the event.

Also notable is an interior installation by renowned American filmmaker David Lynch, providing a captivating, Lynchian experience in Pavilions 5-7. EuroCucina 2024 will showcase 100 exhibitors of leading kitchen and appliance design in Pavilions 2 and 4. Concurrently, Drafting Futures, Conversations about Next Perspectives, will be hosted in Pavilion 14, offering insightful discussions on emerging trends. The rich array of experiences ensures there’s something for everyone to explore throughout the city over the week, so plan accordingly!


Complementing the central stage of Salone del Mobile are the Fuorisalone Events, spread across the city. These events transform Milan into a vivacious city-wide festival where each district pulsates with vibrant exhibitions, installations, and lively parties throughout the week. This year, Fuorisalone events share the theme of the year, Materia Natura, focusing on conscious design. Here’s a quick guide to a selection of the districts:

  • Brera Design District: Centrally located, the chic Brera district is renowned for its vibrant fusion of modern and traditional design elements. Fittingly, It features an staggering number of 196 permanent showrooms.
  • Tortona Design Week: The trendy Tortona area is a patchwork of former factories, workshops and warehouses. During design week you can wander through extensive installations, exhibitions and events.
  • Isola Design District: The Isola district will be showcasing five group exhibitions and various installations. Over 320 international designers will participate across more than 40 locations.
  • 5VIE Art + Design: The 5VIE district downtown is celebrated for its unique atmosphere. Here, the historical context of the surroundings harmonizes with the modern and avant-garde expressions of design.

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.

Milan Design Week: A Glimpse into the Future

As Milan Design Week continues to evolve, its impact on the design industry reverberates globally. The showcased designs, collaborations, and trends unveiled during this event set the stage for the future of design, influencing aesthetics, functionality, and innovation. It is a celebration of creativity, a convergence of minds, and a testament to the ever-evolving nature of design. With another strong showing from Alcova, this year’s event is an unmissable experience for anyone passionate about the world of design.

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