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Letter from the Editor

4th May, 2018

Ok I’m the first to admit these editor’s letters are a little, ah, irregular… but an overseas trip always seems to prompt me with ideas and inspiration worth sharing, so I’m BACK with another edition!

I’ve recently returned from a trip to the Salone Del Mobile – Milan Design Week, with Dulux. This is the world’s biggest design fair, and it’s HUGE.  Over 300,000 people fill the city to take in the various exhibits and events, including over 1300 satellite events across the city, known as the ‘Fuorisalone’.

Of course, Milan is such a vibrant and inspiring place to visit at any time of year, so today I’m sharing both design week highlights, and favourite places to stay, see and eat in Europe’s design capital.

Image supplied by Agency B&Co

Image supplied by Wallpaper*

Image supplied by Wallpaper*

Image supplied by Jacob Peres

Image supplied by CULT

Image supplied by CULT

Image supplied by BMW Group.

Image supplied by Vitra

Image supplied by LOCAL DESIGN.

The Salone Del Mobile is the world’s biggest design fair, and is an annual pilgrimage for designers and architects, stylists, photographers and media, retail buyers and trend-forecasters across the globe. This year, over 1800 brands participated in the ‘main fair’, showcasing furniture, lighting, kitchen and bathroom products to a staggering audience of 434,000 fair attendees over 6 days. I mean – can you even imagine!?

The main fair, though, isn’t really what you see on Instagram! Outside the commercial, quite ‘corporate’ design fair, the city comes alive with a varied program of satellite events and installations known as the ‘Fuorisalone’.

With over 1300 events and presentations across the city, the summary here presents just a teeny, tiny snapshot of some of our Fuorisalone discoveries!

COS + Phillip K. Smith III

Fashion behemoth COS commissioned American artist Phillip K. Smith III to create ‘Open Sky’, a large scale mirrored installation in a historic Palazzo courtyard. ‘The specific site conditions of Palazzo Isimbardi afforded me an opportunity to reframe the historic architecture, while meshing it with the enveloping beauty of the Milanese sky’ Smith explained

Wallpaper* Handmade

UK design magazine Wallpaper* showcased ‘Wellness & Wonder’, a varied edit of installations and specially commissioned products inspired by ‘the cult of self-improvement’, housed within a former church building.

Caesarstone X Snarkitecture

Caesarstone commissioned New York design practice Snarkitecture to create ‘Altered States’, an otherworldly, immersive experience in which the kitchen island is presented as an almost religious, altar-like centrepiece.

HAY x WeWork x SONOS

HAY, Sonos and WeWork joined forces to present a shared vision for the future of living and working spaces, through a series of installations across 1,500 square metres at the spectacular Palazzo Clerici.

MINI Living / Built By All

MINI Living collaborated with UK based Studiomama to create ‘Built By All’, an exploration of new ideas for urban living on a small footprint.

Typecasting by Vitra

Swiss furniture brand Vitra presented ‘An Assembly of Iconic, Forgotten and New Vitra Characters’ – a retrospective of designs from its own archives, presented on a seriously impressive scale in former sports arena, La Pelota. Curated by designer Robert Stadler, the show brought together around 200 objects including classic designs, prototypes, special editions and future visions.


Curated by Sydney designer and stylist Emma Elizabeth, LOCAL MILAN no. 3 brought together the work of 26 Australian designers in a beautiful, dilapidated Milanese apartment.

Image supplied by Room Mate Giulia 

Image by Lucy Feagins

Image supplied by Taschsen

Image supplied by Obića Mozzarella Bar

Design week aside, Milan is such a vibrant and inspiring place to visit at any time of year, and particularly for those passionate about interiors, fashion and design.

This is by no means an exhaustive list… but a small snapshot of favourite spots discovered (and frequented!) during my recent trip!

Room Mate Giulia

You know those places you keep seeing on Instagram for like, 2 years… and then when you *finally* get to visit in person, you’re sort of desperately hoping that they really are as good as all the hype? When, I’m here to report that Room Mate Giulia totally lives up to expectation. This colourful, cheerful and spectacularly stylish boutique hotel in the heart of Milan, designed by the amazing Spanish designer, Patricia Urquiola truly is design hotel heaven. Highly recommend!

Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

No visit to Milan is complete without the breathtaking presence of the city’s main cathedral, the Duomo. It’s definitely worth getting up early to capture its impressive scale and detail, without the crowds and hustlers.

Just next door, you’ll fine the Galleria Vittorio Emaniele II – Italy’s oldest shopping arcade, named after the first king of Italy. Designed in 1861, this spectacularly grand shopping destination offers high end stores, and a number of charming (if slightly overpriced) old fashioned Milanese-style bars and cafes. Look out for the Rizzoli bookshop, and have a coffee and cake at historic Milanese pastry shop, Pasticceria Marchesi.


CasaBASE is a super cool concept space in the Tortona area. It’s a versatile creative events venue with an event changing program of events, which also offers unique accommodation, from ‘hostel style’ rooms with bunk beds, to private rooms just like a boutique hotel.

Prada Fondazione

In a word, WOW. The Fondazione Prada is a mind-blowing arts precinct housed within a former gin distillery complex on the Southern outskirts of central Milan. Co-chaired by Miuccia Prada, this arts venue has all the hallmarks of a cultural institution unlimited by state funding, corporate partnerships or constraints of any sort! Just this month the precinct opened their spectacular final building – ‘Torre’ – a 60 metre tower designed by Rem Koolhaas with Chris Van Duijn and Federico Pompignoli of OMA.


Inspired by the cult Taschen title, ‘Entryways of Milan’, we joined interior designer David Flack on a self-guided tour of some of Milan’s most impressive ‘incidental’ interiors, such as building foyers and entryways. (Granted, many were sadly only viewable through a security door – but that didn’t stop us trying!)

Osteria Delbinari

Our Italian photographer (and accidental translator / tour guide!) Angelita Bonetti took us to this authentic Milanese eatery for lunch on a busy shoot day. Osteria Delbinari is one of Milan’s oldest restaurants. Visit for seriously good pasta, and old school Milanese atmosphere – leather tub chairs, marble-topped tables, and handpainted wall frescoes.


Obicà is a ‘mozzarella bar’ and pizzeria, specialising in authentic buffalo Mozzarella DOP. Headed up by Italy’s answer to Gordon Ramsey (!), TV chef Alessandro Borghese, Obicà now has 25 restaurants all over the world.

It’s actually quite good, though. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the terrace of the Obicà on the 7th floor of Rinascente department store, in Piazza Duomo, which offers an incredible birds eye view over the Duomo.


Letters from Lucy

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email