Dezeen Magazine

15 must-see exhibitions and installations at Milan design week 2018

With Milan design week just around the corner, design editor Alice Morby reveals her pick of the best shows to visit, from a decked-out American diner to a celebration of vegan design.

Milan design week takes place from 17 to 22 April 2018. As one of the busiest dates on the design calendar, visitors flock from around the world to see exhibitions and installations across the entire city.

As well as a packed inner-city programme, the annual Salone del Mobile furniture fair sees the world's biggest brands launch new products and collections at Milan's huge expo centre in Rho.

With hundreds of happenings, we've narrowed down our top picks of the must-see exhibition and installations:

Must-see exhibitions and installations at Milan design week 2018

Norwegian Presence

Norwegian Presence returns to Milan design week this year, with a show taking place in the Tortona district from 17 to 22 April 2018. Exploring "the making of modern Norway", the exhibition will feature work from both established and emerging design talents.

Zona Tortona


Having sat out last year, Danish brand HAY will make its comeback for the 2018 festival. Working alongside Sonos and WeWork, HAY will take over the historical Palazzo Clerici to showcase a series of installations that look at past and future living scenarios.

Palazzo Clerici

The Diner by David Rockwell

New York architect David Rockwell will collaborate with Surface magazine to create The Diner, a space where American design will be celebrated in a setting based on an "archetypal roadside restaurant".

Ventura Centrale, Via Ferrante Aporti 15

Disco Gufram

This year, Italian brand Gufram is going to present its new collections in a party-themed disco space. The new Disco Gufram collection includes upholstered seating inspired by Gufram's upholstered "disco seats" from the 1970s, a series of carpets with patterns that draw upon the geometry of dance floors, and a series of coffee tables and cabinets that feature warped disco balls.

Mediateca Santa Teresa 14, Via della Moscova 28

Nendo aims to "design time" with collection of unconventional hourglasses

Nendo: Forms of movement

Nendo will present 10 concepts based on the theme of movement for its Milan exhibition, taking place as part of the wider Superstudio showcase. Visitors will see final products, models and mock-ups, allowing them a glimpse into the studio's process.

Superstudio, Via Tortona 27

Dimorestudio at Milan design week

Dimore Studio

Dimore Studio is curating three separate events for Milan design week. The first, Dimore Gallery, will present an installation of iconic 20th-century design at a location on Via Solferino 11. Also here, the studio will showcase its latest pieces from the collections Progetto Non Finito and Oggetti collections. Lastly, an installation named Limited Edition will see six shop front windows filled with items from the late 1800s and early 1900s that have been deconstructed and updated with modern lacquers and materials.

Via Solferino 11 and Via Solferino 22

Mutant Matter by Dutch Invertuals and FranklinTill

Experimental design collective Dutch Invertuals and FranklinTill will examine the future of materials in their collaborative exhibition. Ten designers will each showcase a different project that questions the process of making in the modern world, from the repurposing of existing objects and waste products, to brand new material experimentations.

Via Pastrengo 12

MINI Living – Built by All

MINI and London architecture firm Studiomama will create a "micro neighbourhood" that explores collaboration between residents and architects and how, by encouraging this, individual requirements can be better addressed and achieved.

Via Tortona 32

Living Nature by Carlo Ratti

All four seasons will coexist in this "garden pavilion" designed by Italian architect Carlo Ratti, in association with Salone del Mobile. Set on Milan's Piazza del Duomo, the installation sees spring, summer, autumn and winter all created with the studio's climate control system. Plants will be placed under a responsive "crystal membrane", which filters the sun into the space.

Piazza del Duomo

Horah by Raw Edges for Wonderglass

London studio Raw Edges will install a series of 30 moving lamps inside Spazio Krizia, each based on the Israeli Horah dance. The lamps, created by Wonderglass, will be made from cast glass in a variety of hues, allowing them to cast colourful shadows across the space.

Spazio Krizia

Vegan Design – Or the Art of Reduction

At the 5Vie district, an exhibition of work by vegan designer Nevi Pana, curated by Maria Cristina Didero, will explore the question: is it possible to design without using any material from animals?

Spazio Sanremo, Via Zecca Vecchia 3

Google Softwear

Google will come to Salone del Mobile for the first time this year with an installation curated by trend forecaster Li Edelkoort inside the Rossana Orlandi gallery. Here, the tech company will present products from its hardware range – but in environments designed to look like everyday scenarios. Six bespoke wall hangings by Dutch designer Kiki van Eijk will decorate each room, and the space will also host a talks programme based on the integration of technology and lifestyle objects.

Via Matteo Bandello 14

Open Sky by COS and Phillip K Smith III

COS is working alongside American artist Phillip K Smith III to create a large-scale outdoor installation that will be installed at the 16th century Palazzo Isimbardi. Set in the courtyard, Smith's structure will be made up a series of reflective works that are intended to "pull the sky to the ground", offering visitors a serene place to relax.

Palazzo Isimbardi

Not for Sale by Design Academy Eindhoven

Always a highlight on the Milan circuit, Design Academy Eindhoven's show takes place this year on Via Pietro Crespi – a street described by the school's creative director Joseph Grima as being representative of "everyday Italian life". Through the street-long installation, students will examine the concept of what can and can't be bought in terms of design objects.

Via Pietro Crespi

Typecasting by Vitra

Iconic objects, prototypes and designs that never made it into production will be among the 200 archive pieces exhibited at Vitra's Typecasting exhibition. Curated by Austrian designer Robert Stadler, the Typecasting exhibition will take place inside La Pelota – a former sports hall in Milan. Aiming to examine the way furniture shapes people's lives and identities, Stadler will group the objects according to the characters he feels they possess.

La Pelota, Via Palermo 10