Milan travel guide: Caffè Fernanda by Rgastudio

Milan travel guide for architects and designers

This month the entire design community flocks to Milan for the biggest event in the industry calendar. Whether you're visiting for the design week, or planning a separate trip, here's a travel guide to the city's best hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops.


Milan travel guide: Caffè Fernanda by Rgastudio
Photo by Michele Nastasi

Cafe: Caffè Fernanda

A 17th-century painting is aptly the focal point of this cafe in Milan's renowned Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery, serving cakes, coffee and evening cocktails.

Named after Fernanda Wittgens – the former director of the gallery, who led its reopening after the second world war – the space was recently renovated by local office Rgastudio. It features teal blue walls, veiny marble floors and a mix of furnishings by Italian brand Pedrali.

Via Brera, 28


Milan travel guide:

Hotel: Room Mate Giulia

Situated opposite the famous Piazza del Duomo, Room Mate Giulia features a bold clash of colours that Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola felt would reflect the "essence of Milan".

The hotel's 85 guest rooms are dressed with made-to-measure furniture from Cassina and a variety of works from local artists.

Via Silvio Pellico, 4


Milan travel guide: Bally showroom by Storagemilano
Photo by Alberto Strada

Shop: Bally by Storagemilano

Tall gold doorways, marble fixtures, and neon chandeliers help create an aptly dramatic setting inside Milan's Bally showroom, which served as a cinema in the early 20th century.

Handbags and shoes from the luxury fashion label are displayed on stepped shelving blocks that are meant to resemble seats in an amphitheatre.

Viale Piave, 42


Milan travel guide: Bar Luce by Wes Anderson
Photo by Roland Halbe

Cafe: Bar Luce

Whimsical filmmaker Wes Anderson took charge of designing the interiors of Bar Luce, a drinking spot located inside the OMA-designed Fondazione Prada.

Intended to emulate the ambience of an old Milanese cafe, the space features veneered wooden panelling, patterned wallpaper and colourful Formica furnishings.

Largo Isarco, 2


Milan travel guide: Palermo Uno gallery by Sophie Wannenes
Photo by Andrea Pedretti

Gallery: Palermo Uno by Sophie Wannenes

Palermo Uno is a contemporary design gallery that interior designer Sophie Wannenes set up inside her Brera district apartment back in 2018.

Open from April to July, the venue comes to life during Milan design week, with both antiques and contemporary design pieces exhibited against a backdrop of richly toned walls and herringbone patterned wood floors.

Via Palermo, 1


Milan travel guide: Straf Hotel

Hotel: Straf by Vincenzo De Cotiis

Slate, concrete and burnished brass walls serve as a backdrop to sumptuous jewel-tone furnishings inside the Straf, which architect and designer Vincenzo De Cotiis says can be seen as a large-scale installation rather than a hotel.

Host to 64 guest rooms, the hotel also has an Italian-fusion restaurant and a street bar where guests can enjoy cocktails with views of the nearby Duomo cathedral.

Via San Raffaele, 3


Milan travel guide: SEM Showroom by Cameranesi Pompili
Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

Shop: SEM Showroom

Young brand SEM made its debut at Milan design week 2018, but has already opened a showroom just a few minutes walk from the city's famous watering hole Bar Basso.

Designed by Milanese duo Cameranesi Pompili, the space boasts an impressively simple interior, with terracotta tile floors and swathes of coloured Kvadrat fabric suspended from the ceiling, to serve as backdrops to collections on display.

Via Garofalo, 31


Milan travel guide: Cafezal by Studiopepe

Cafe: Cafezal by Studiopepe

There's more than the typical Italian espresso on the menu at Cafezal, a micro-roastery that offers a range of specialty drinks including drip coffees and cold brews.

Studiopepe designed the cafe's deep blue interiors, adding contrasting pink seating banquettes, shiny copper service counters and white terrazzo tabletops.

Via Solferino, 27


Imarika store in Milan, designed by Marcante-Testa
Photo by Carola Ripamonti

Shop: Imarika by Marcante-Testa

Pink clay partitions, panes of plexiglass and copper pipes merge to form an "architectural landscape" inside the Imarika fashion boutique.

The shop is located in Milan's historic Porta Venezia district and over the past three decades has become a go-to spot for womenswear, recognised for its extensive selection of pieces from emerging designers.

Via Giovanni Morelli, 1


Milan travel guide: Carlo e Camilla by Tanja Solci
Photo by Roland Halbe

Restaurant: Carlo e Camilla by Tanja Solci

Headed up by Neapolitan chef Luca Pedata, the menu of Carlo e Camilla changes four times a year in accordance with what ingredients are in season.

The Italian restaurant occupies an old sawmill that belonged to designer Tanja Solci's grandparents in the late 1920s, but is now decked out with crystal chandeliers and dining chairs by Cappellini.

Via Giuseppe Meda, 24