An Article by Andrew Mitchell, Founder of The Design Coach
I've recently arrived home from a whirlwind trip to Italy, where I was incredibly fortunate to host our inaugural 2023 Milan Trip, created to provide a platform for our members to experience the magnitude of the International Furniture Fair and Milan Design Week with a group of like-minded designers. And what a magnificent way to see the most important trade fair in the world!
The program of the Milan Trip was carefully curated to offer delegates a well-rounded experience, not only at the fair itself, but throughout the streets of Milan, where much of the excitement happens. An important element of the trip was that everyone got to experience the total package that Milan has to offer: amazing food and wine, beautiful and hospitable people, a vibrant night life, high-end shopping and of course, some of the best design and architecture in the world. While it's not possible to cover everything Milan has to offer during Design Week, we certainly gave it a red hot crack!
Although we were all blown away by the sheer scale of the fair (even if you spent 10 hours a day there, 7 days in a row you wouldn't ever be able to see everything!), we were lucky enough to discover new suppliers, make new connections, and to be the first to see incredible new product lines.
Along the way we walked (my goodness did we walk!),
we laughed, we ate well, we drank plentifully, we danced into the night, and we made friends for life.
DAY 1: WELCOME DRINKS
After checking into their beautifully appointed rooms, our guests got to have a meet and greet Aperitivo in the Lobby Bar before heading out to explore the city.
WELCOME DINNER AT MAIO RESTAURANT
After a chance to explore the majesty of the nearby Duomo and the world-class Galleria shopping hall, we gathered together for a welcome dinner at Maio Restaurant, overlooking the Duomo. As the sun slowly set over Milan's famous gothic cathedral, our delegates all bonded over beautiful food and delicious local wines.
Welcome Dinner at Maio Restaurant, Milan.
TOM DIXON PARTY
We were very fortunate to get VIP Invitations to the Tom Dixon Salone Opening Night Party. The who's who of the design world (hello Kelly Wearstler!) attended this vibrant party, hosted in the Experiential Space in Milan Tom uses to test his new prototypes.
Party time at Tom Dixon.
DAY 2: SALONE DEL MOBILE (FURNITURE FAIR)
Our group received VIP treatment on the first visit to the fair, with priority access to a number of stands, including Molteni and Co, Paolo Castelli Spa, Riva 1920 and Mirage. Not only was this a chance to skip the queues, we were also very fortunate to meet the company owners, who shared the stories behind their brands and explained their new collections in detail.
The most memorable experience was meeting the handsome, charismatic founder and head designer of Paolo Castelli Spa, Paolo Castelli himself.
DAY 3: BRERA AND DURINI DESIGN DISTRICTS
Despite some pretty awful weather, our delegates powered through a day of VIP showroom visits, including (but not limited to) visits to:
Ross Gardham's Milan Installation Suite
Muuto's Apartment Installation
Boffi's Kitchen Installation
Rubelli Fabric's Head Office and Showroom
Edra's Durini Palazzo Showroom
B&B Italia Showroom
Delegates admiring Ross Gardham's newly released Volant Chandelier's in his VIP exhibition space in Brera, Milan.
DAY 4: SALONE DEL MOBILE (EUROLUCE: LIGHTING)
Every second year, the Milan Fair showcases the best in lighting design through it's offshoot exhibition, Euroluce, located within the fair. On their second full day visit to the official fair, delegates were given a VIP tour of the Euroluce Exhibition.
An absolute highlight of this day was meeting yet another founding director, William Brand, of Dutch lighting company Brand Van Egmond. Like Paolo, William is also the head designer of his successful lighting company, which he chooses to see as creators of sculptures, rather than mere light fittings. He took the time to explain the fascinating stories behind every one of his lighting ranges, which proved to be inspiring, enlightening and highly amusing!
William Brand, founding director and head designer at Brand Van Egmond, explains the story behind each of his lighting ranges.
DAY 5: TORTONA DESIGN DISTRICT
The Tortona Design District in Milan is a more industrial zone, with large warehouses suitable for installation design. Here, many of the small and large players in the design world make statements through their installations, often designed by established designers with impressive credentials, or emerging designers to watch.
We visited a fascinating installation by IKEA, which featured a huge structure that incorporated robotics, water and light. They also had a section devoted to a retrospective of some of their most popular furniture and lighting pieces over the past 80 years.
An immersive installation "Mirage", by Noroo Milan Design Studio, featured mind-altering sculptures that played with light and dark, bouncing light off mirrors and using clouds of dry ice to enhance the experience.
DAY 5: DESIGN STUDIO VISIT WITH MAURIZIO LAI
One of Milan's most celebrated architect's, Maurizio Lai is known around the world for his incredible use of light and space design, specifically in the hospitality world. His use of mirrors and LED lighting creates "other worldly" environments that are totally unique and are endlessly creative.
Following our tour of the Tortona District, we had the great honour of a private tour of Maurizio's Milan Studio, with a special talk on the use of light in design. Delivered in Italian, and translated by the wonderful Elena, Maurizio's passion for his craft was so incredibly evident.
As a special treat, we were then escorted on a private tour of 2 of the studio's most awarded and respected venues: Iyo Aalto and Waby.
On the way to our Gala Dinner, we stopped at Corso Como, a world famous Concept Store, with the most coveted fashion, interiors and art imaginable!
DAY 5: GALA DINNER
After a day packed full of design inspiration and an incredible week of discovering Milan, it was time to let our hair down!
Ceresio 7 is one of Milan's most coveted dining venues, with a rooftop location that takes in views of the city and opens out onto a private pool. Our delegates enjoyed a 5 course degustation dinner, fine local wines, and the wonderful company of Maurizio Lai and his team.
After dinner, everyone danced by the pool and shared their favourite experiences from their incredible time in Milan.
Dancing the night away at Ceresio 7 Restaurant, Milan.
DAY 6: VILLA NECCHI AND FAREWELLS
Our final day in Milan featured a private tour of the famous Villa Necchi, a 1930's private villa designed for one of Milan's most influential families. Our tour guide Marco delivered an incredibly insightful description of each room of the house, explaining in detail the design heritage and the story behind the family. This proved to be a perfect end to a week packed full of design inspiration.
Our wonderful 2023 Milan Trip Delegates.
Even though I'm still a little dazed from my long trip home, I wanted to provide a review of the trip, mainly because it was SO DAMN GOOD that I want to share it with the world!
For those amazing designers who joined us, thank you for making the trip so special. I trust that the inspiration will positively impact your work for years to come, and the memories will live on forever.
Did you miss out this year? Reserve your place for the trip of a lifetime!
Join us for a magical 6 days and 5 nights at our 2024 Milan Trip.
Find out more about The Design Coach: who we are and what we stand for.
Stay well, and believe in you!
Until next time, Ciao!