Think of Milan and it’s often the joys and excesses of beauty that come to mind. Men in linen suits drinking Campari, the women with red lips and polished hair stepping off their black scooters. It’s Italy’s fashion capital, after all. But the reasons we love Milan don’t stop at the Prada flagship front door.
From the heavenly Milan Cathedral (that exemplary Gothic masterpiece) to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the city is heaving with beautiful architecture and temples in which to worship design. Here, we chart some of the city’s must-visit design destinations for those who love design. Bella Italia indeed.
Fondazione Prada’s mission to be an icon of cultural awareness and evolution has provided the city with a coterie of exhibitions and events for the last two decades. The Fondazione’s main interest is ideas. More specifically the ways in which mankind has transformed ideas into specific disciplines and cultural products: literature, cinema, music, philosophy, art and science. Art is the Fondazione’s main instrument of working and learning. The building that houses the work of the Fondazione is unsurprisingly avant-garde - a welcome reprieve from the ornate Italian architecture that abounds elsewhere in Milan. Attached to the Fondazione is Bar Luce: a Wes Andersen-designed bar that combines key-lime pie coloured upholstery, vintage sci-fi shapes, and elegant orb lights. The experience is a surreal, dreamlike escape into the unique, sensual pleasures that design offers us.
The Armani Silos is an ode to all that informs and inspires Giorgio Armani’s work. And as you’d expect, the building is every bit as timeless, clean, and effortless as an Armani wool coat. Armani believes that fashion nourishes the soul as much as food nourishes the body. A fortuitous belief, considering Silos building used to be a food storage facility. It’s all polished grey concrete; large cavernous rooms that act as individual portals into Armani’s unique viewpoint onfilm, art, and design.
Villa Necchi Campiglio
Once owned by the Campiglio/Necchi family, this 1930’s-built villa in the heart of Milan is an oasis of calm. The Villa is cloaked under the guise of a museum, but the reality is that most visitors are simply hoping for a glimpse into what life must have been like for a wealthy Italian family living in luxury in the mid-20th Century. Almost entirely untouched, the home’s decorative arts and interiors are as luxurious as you’d expect from their 17th Century style. It’s a dreamy trip into a fantastical paradise. One we wish we could stay in, for as long as the pool stays shaded and the marble floors stay cool.
Museo Del Novocento
Less than a decade old, the Museo Del Novocento’s generous windows look out onto the Milan Cathedral - it’s a meeting of old and new befitting of a city that values history as much as it does boundary-pushing design. In fact, the Museo Del Novocento is arguably the hub of the spirit of the new Italian guard. Housing over 4000 works that catalyze the development of 20th Century art. Beside its core exhibition rotation, the museum is responsible for cultivating discussions and galvanising the city into cultural and design awareness. The landmark building, designed by Griffini, Magistretti, Muzio, and Portaluppi, was renovated by the Rota Group to host a richly layered collection of 20th century Italian art.