Milan – The Design Capital
Much has been written about Milan and it being the world’s design capital, about the annual design exhibits there, the atmosphere and chicness in the streets.
Even without specific recommendations, no addresses, Google Maps or even this post, it’s enough to get lost in the streets of the city and enjoy the design surrounding you from every corner. Milan is a city of design. A center of attraction for people who deal with design on all its facets, and it shows in the streets, people – young and old (as well as their pets) – walking down them.
The yards peeking out between the old buildings, some were used as palaces in the past, the vast parks, stores – even those that aren’t design-related – all create an atmosphere second to none.
I will bring here my Milan, which has nothing to do with the Design Week, the that’s always out there, for everyone.
Here are my picks (as of now) of the top ten designed places in this especially designed city, counting down (it’s worth reaching the much-deserved first place).
Tenth place – ARMANI, Giorgio Armani
When you say Milan, you say Armani. Armani is everywhere, from the flagship store of its home décor and furniture store, Armani casa, through its fashion brand in all the right places around the city, all the way to the Armani Hotel, the nearby Armani Café and of course the Armani Silos at the heart of the Tortona District, a hall established to display the works of the super-designer in his 40 years’ work.
- CityLife Project
This is the new residential neighborhood built in the city, where the Fiera Milano exhibition area used to be in the past. The project includes seven residential buildings designed by Zaha Hadid and another eight residential buildings designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, all designed in an innovative style around a big park. This year, a vast shopping mall was added to the complex with the best brands, including Habitat’s first store in Milan.
- Fondazione Prada – Prada’s Museum of Modern Art
Miuccia Prada, the fashion icon, chose to establish the Museum of Modern Art baring her name, at the outskirts of the city in the most unfashionable place possible, regardless of the renowned brand’s designs. The complex, planned by architects Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry, combines old industry buildings and new halls, emphasizing a combination of materials with a golden building towering over it all.
- Showrooms by the Best Italian Furniture Designers at Via Durini
Right at the center of the city, on via Durini and its adjacent streets, are showrooms and ateliers of leading furniture departments such Casina, B&B Italia, presenting well-crafted modern design; DePadova, also including Boffi kitchens; luxury classic furniture at Giogetti, the humorous and highly-inspirational Fronasetti and many more great ones.
- La Rinascente Department Store Flagship Store
In addition to shopping, so well deserved in this fashionable city, this breathtaking department store has three must see stops:
The design floor – houseware, kitchenware, decoration accessories and textile.
Food floor – super elegant, at the top floor pf the building.
Restaurant and bar at the top floor – a must spot for taking a break on the backdrop of the spires of the Duomo. Whether its coffee, Aperol spritz or a great meal, before after or while roaming the city.
5. Brera Historic District and Culture Center
The Brera district holds a magical combination of everything you would expect while visiting Milan, and it is my favorite area for a hotel or apartment while staying in the city.
The historic neighborhood’s streets and alleys are drenched with atmosphere, full of all kinds of design stores, galleries (the most prominent ones have respectable spots later on), restaurant and delis.
In between the ancient buildings are hidden spectacular gardens and yards. No wonder the best design houses decided to locate their showrooms within all this beauty. Among those who stand out are Boffi, at an ancient building at the edge of an incredible yard with unique galleries surrounding it; Agape, a leading manufacturer of bathrooms and kitchens; the kitchens, bathrooms and furniture Modulnova design house, as well as many more.
- Food and Design at Porto Nouvo
At the edge of Brera neighborhood, at the heart of a pedestrian mall and square packed with fashion stores, lays the largest store of Eataly, the best Italian food products, stalls and restaurants for great food.
At the top floor of this food hall is the Alice restaurant, with its Michelin star. A perfect meal to finish a busy day, in front of the sunset over the Alps towering ahead.
At an alley near Eataly is a magical store with a name that doesn’t give away the experience you are about to go on
Cargo-hightech is a magical cave for design enthusiasts. The entrance floor has various stationery and gadgets, handbags and fashion accessories. A winding staircase leads to a branching basement floor carved in the ground, with an assortment of houseware, bath accessories and textile. You can find anything there and from the best manufacturers.
- 10 Corso Como
Near Eataly is Milan’s iconic fashion and design complex, 10 Corso Como, the best place to start off the tour of the city, have a first coffee and slowly take in the unique atmosphere.
At the ground floor is a restaurant and café within a beautiful garden. Nearby is a fashion store displaying items selected by the best designers in the world and just-as-exquisite house brand items. On the following floor is a store incorporating design accessories with a wide range of design books. The same floor is also home to a gallery with changing exhibits. Stairs lead to the roof floor, where there are garden furniture spread around, made of mosaic and iron, between the lovely natural vegetation.
- Dilmus Gallery
Dilmus Gallery for modern design is at the center of the Brera district. The gallery represents artists and designers and is part of a worldwide movement for promoting design collection (a thing close to my heart, which I have written a lot about in other posts about designed places). The gallery has changing collections of furnishing, light fixtures and accessories, all emphasizing visibility more than functionality. The styles of items presented are varied diverse.
First place, my favorite place of all –
Rossana Orlandi’s Gallery
Rossana Orlandi is considered the greatest talent scout in the field of design and lifestyle. The gallery, established in 2002, serves as a platform and steppingstone for the few designers who were fortunate enough to display there. One of the first to be discovered by Orlandi was Dutch renowned designer, Piet Hein Eek, and is now active worldwide.
The gallery incorporates a showroom, a store packed with unique items and a broad garden used for glamorous events. There is an online store which allows you to shop from home.
The combination of item sin the gallery, house and garden are astonishing, and the owner’s glowing personality make this a magical place, uniquely designed as well as my personal favorite in Milan.
A bit about me – I’m an interior designer with 20 years of experience. The studio specializes in luxury apartments, luxury privet houses, commercial and business design. As part of my job, I travel to perfectly designed places around the world and am delighted to share those experiences with you, while offering my personal and professional perspective. All this in the blog Design & the City, which is also published monthly at the Designer magazine by HaAretz newspaper.