6 hotspots to check out in Milan, Italy’s design and fashion capital
Seek #designinspo from these buzzy venues ahead of the upcoming Milan Design Week, which runs from Apr 9 to 15 this year.
Milan is experiencing a new lease of life – in the last few years, the city has become even more vibrant with the emergence of new art and design districts, a surge of hotel and restaurant openings as well as the newly-completed landmarks designed by star architects.
From thoughtfully restored Milanese-style buildings, inspiring concept stores that pay homage to mid-century modern design to innovative menus at the buzzy restaurants and bars in town, there is much to see and experience even for the repeat visitor; even the classic Italian coffee break is made better if it's in an inspiring new location like the Fernanda bar bistro inside the Accademia di Brera.
STAY AT THE SAVONA 18 SUITES
This once-abandoned 20th-century building has been revitalised as a boutique hotel, with interiors restored by Italian architect and Memphis co-founder Aldo Cibic. The residential-style interior creates an intimate and welcoming atmosphere while preserving its authentic Milanese court flavour, combining the retro charm of the structure with contemporary decor; the hotel is just a stone's throw from the Navigli area, one of the most vibrant districts of the city. A lovely open-air courtyard is one of the hotel’s most charming features, where you can bask in the sun and enjoy the warm spring in Milan.
DRINK AT THE BOTANICAL CLUB
Tropical plants, lounge music and a very big gin cellar – these add to the relaxed and convivial vibe of the Botanical Club, one of the most trendy addresses in Milan where you can enjoy a light lunch, a drink or an informal dinner. The kitchen offers dishes with combinations of interesting flavours, and the after-dinner cocktail menu is as irresistible. The interior decoration is the perfect mix of design and verdant accents. The location is very strategic during the Milan Design Week as it is in the lively Via Tortona design district.
DRINK AT CAFFE FERNANDA
Dedicated to Fernanda Wittgens – the first female director of the Pinacoteca di Brera (also known as the Brera Art Gallery) during WWII – the new Caffe Fernanda in the Accademia di Brera is located next to the museum’s entrance and is an ideal place for a coffee break when you are in the Brera design district. Designed by Rgastudio, its interior decoration features contemporary design pieces and precious details in brass and marble, but with an Italian touch conveyed through the original masterpieces and artworks that decorate the walls.
SHOP AT SIX GALLERY
If you are looking for vintage furniture for your home, you can't miss the Six Gallery. Curated by David Lopez Quincoces and Fanny Bauer Grung – the duo behind the architectural office Quincoces-Drago & Partner – the gallery features iconic designs from different epochs and origins in a very elegant space that’s filled with lush foliage. In this ever-changing space, pieces shown include collector’s items, which add to its eclectic aesthetic.
SHOP AT LIZARD BOUTIQUE
Opened in September 2018 and located in the 5 vie design district, Lizard Boutique is a concept store that offers a selection of womenswear from international fashion brands including Chinti and Parker, Stine Goya and Lee Mathews as well as made-in-Italy accessories brands. Its minimalist interior features pastel colours and decorative neon lights, complemented with design objects that will make beautiful additions to your home.
VISIT THE FONDAZIONE ACHILLE CASTIGLIONI
View prototypes, models, drawings, and many curious objects accumulated over the years at the museum of renowned industrial designer and architect Achille Castiglioni, considered one of the masters and founding fathers of Italian design. The Achille Castiglioni Foundation organises guided tours of his studio, which is located right in front of Sforza Castle. It’s inspiring to imagine the Italian designer and architect at work in this studio, while surrounded by so many objects that he found by chance and accumulated in themed boxes.
A version of this story first appeared on Singapore Tatler.