With Milan design week kicking off next week, design editor Augusta Pownall picks the best shows to take in, from an installation built from bio-bricks to a multi-room exploration of neuroaesthetics from Google.
One of the busiest weeks in the design calendar, this year's Milan design week encompasses the Salone del Mobile furniture fair, where international brands launch their latest collections, as well as the light fair Euroluce, and an ever-growing set of satellite events in the city centre.
Taking place between 9 and 14 April this year, the design week sees fashion and technology brands getting in on the action alongside architects and designers, with exhibitions, installations and parties in historic and industrial locations across the Italian city.
With hundreds of events taking place, here's our pick of the crop:
Pleasure & Treasure by Advantage Austria
Held in the Sala Reale, a room that once served as the royal family's private waiting room at Milan central station, Pleasure & Treasure will show furniture and interior products from more than 40 Austrian designers and architects.
To enter the 400-square-metre venue which is set over two floors, visitors must wade through a sea of foam.
Conifera by COS
Arthur Mamou-Mani is behind this year's COS installation, which returns to the 16th-century Palazzo Isimbardi. Conifera will comprise more than 700 interlocking 3D-printed bio-bricks that extend from the palazzo's courtyard out into the garden beyond.
The opening of the digitally designed and built structure will be formed of opaque wood and bioplastic bricks, which transition through the structure to translucent bioplastic bricks to give visitors a shifting experience of the installation.
Lambert & Fils and DWA Design Studio's pop-up concept bistro Caffè Populaire will feature items from both studios' collections, including furniture designed by Mariotti Fulget in collaboration with DWA Design Studio.
Set against the backdrop of a former panettone factory, as part of the Alcova exhibition, the design will feature textural lime plaster walls from Belgian bespoke architectural finishers Antoine, and offer a crucial resting stop in the northeast of the city.
A Space for Being
In a multiroom installation at Spazio Maiocchi, Google Design Studio will explore the field of neuroaesthetics and how different aesthetic experiences have the potential to impact our biology and wellbeing. The exhibition is being created in collaboration with Muuto, Reddymade Architecture, and the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University.
Visitors will be given a wristband that measures physiological responses and invited to explore a different spaces. They will leave with a customised artefact that tells them which space their body responded to best felt most at ease.
Architect and interior designer Elisa Ossino and surface design specialist Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer of H+O have designed a colourful space in a multi-room apartment on the third floor of an apartment in Brera.
Furniture and interior objects on show will come from House of Finn Juhl – which is reissuing the Grasshopper chair this year – along with Artcoustic, Astep, File Under Pop, Frama, H+O, Mad et Len, Officine Saffi, Stine Goya and Menu, which is launching this Co Lounge Chair.
Launching this year, the second Alcova site will join the original Via Populi Uniti location that kicked off in 2018.
Organised in collaboration with curator Alice Stori Lichtenstein and Fondazione Kenta, Alcova Sassetti will see a series talks, exhibitions, performances and screenings take place in a former cashmere factory in Isola perfectly preserved in its original 1930s condition.
Ro Plastic-Master's Pieces
Thirty one-of-a-kind pieces made exclusively with recycled plastic will go on display as the Ro Plastic-Master's Pieces exhibition in the railway pavilion of Milan's Museum of Science and Technology, including work by Piet Hein Eek, Formafantasma and Brodie Neill.
Running in parallel with the Ro Plastic prize, the winner of which will be announced on 10 April, both events form a part of Orlandi's Guiltless Plastic initiative, launched at Milan last year.
Life in Vogue
The second edition of Life in Vogue sees Vogue Italia's offices again taken over by a group of eight designers and architects. Reflecting on their own interpretation of how fashion and design interact, the names involved include David/Nicola, Jonathan Anderson, and Massimiliano Locatelli.
The temporary changes will mean that the magazine's offices are open to the public for the duration of Milan design week.
Shape of Gravity
Wonderglass will present an exhibition of the Melt cast glass furniture and tabletop pieces, by Japanese design studio Nendo, at Istituto dei Ciechi.
The highlight of the display will be a gravity-formed cast glass cascading chandelier measuring 2.5 metres in diameter that appears to float in the air above the collection of furniture.
Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival
Bringing together more than 120 design and architecture projects from the last three decades, Broken Nature explores the extent to which our relationship with nature has been damaged, and what can be done to recover it.
Curator of the exhibition – and of MOMA's department of architecture and design – Paola Antonelli hopes that the exhibition will engage audiences beyond the design community, as well as those there for design week.
Tom Dixon's first showroom and restaurant in mainland Europe will be the backdrop for the launch of three product ranges. With a 100-cover dining space, it's a world away from the usual "dusty" furniture and lighting showroom.
Following the success of Dixon's Coal Office in London, which combines a bar, restaurant and retail space, the Manzoni aims to offer a more engaging shopping experience for the brand's customers in Europe.
Chilean architecture studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen will present Echo, a reflective pavilion structure in the courtyard of Palazzo Litta that merges interior with exterior.
The installation is covered with a mirrored surface that reflects the baroque colonnade and its two surrounding levels of the courtyard, whilst from the interior of the structure visitors can see the sky above.
A 24-hour shoppable installation on Via Durini will see Vitra accessories available to purchase at all hours of the day and night.
People passing can buy directly from the animal-themed installation by scanning a QR code, to snap up L'Oiseau by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, the Eames Elephant or the most recent addition, the Resting Animals by Swedish design studio Front.
The huge exhibition space at Nilufar Depot will explore the idea of collectives amongst young designers, or what the organisers are describing as "a temporary collective of collectives".
Often merging, grouping or dissolving, the projects on show will have the idea of membranes, coatings and stratification in common, with the work held together by curation from Valentina Ciuffi, with exhibition design by Joseph Grima.
Hemma Gone Wild
Interior architecture Joyn Studio is bringing the work of Swedish design brands and schools to life in an installation that offers a playful take on the idea of home, which for Swedes is closely linked with the idea of nature.
Beckmans College of Design and HDK Academy of Design and Crafts are just two of the institutions taking part, as well as the Swedish Nationalmuseum, whose refurbishment was the impetus for a collection of furniture and other accessories.