The Ultimate Guide to Milan for Design Aficionados

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Milan is clearly not Rome or Venice with their picture-perfect vista and world-renowned sites, but that’s exactly its appeal. Famous for being the fashion and design capital of the world, this Italian city is a magnet for fashionistas and design aficionados who want to explore its raw mix of shabby-looking post-industrial buildings turned into galleries and magnificent apartment buildings with charming courtyards.

With many of its gems hidden from plain view, Milan is certainly a city worth visiting, either for weekend getaways or longer stays. Here are several of its best spots where you can sightsee, shop and dine with design in mind.

La Triennale di Milano

La Triennale di Milano is the city’s museum of contemporary art and a great place to start your tour. It spares no effort to showcase the art of design in all its glory and in 2017, it also featured history of Italian design for kids. It’s situated on the grounds of the Parco Sempione, which is an ideal spot to take a brief pause from the crow and noise, stroll around the lake, or a take a tour through the medieval Sforzesco Castle.

Studio Museo Achille Castiglioni

One of the most interesting places to see in Milan is the gorgeous studio of Achille Castiglioni, founded in 2006 with the goal of introducing his work to the public. Roaming through the four rooms of his studio and browsing through his prototypes, books, sketches, pictures and various materials archived, visitors get the opportunity to get a better grasp of the genius behind his projects as well as his intelligence, humility and frivolity.

Nilufar Depot

Nilufar Depot, a warehouse owned by gallerist Nina Yashar, is an impressive three-floor space organised around an open atrium and inspired by La Scala opera house. It’s located near the Garibaldi train station and offers its visitors a mix of contemporary and premium vintage design arranged in dramatic vignettes. For design lovers, this is both a deeply indulging and educating experience.

RM Instituto Moda e Design

One place design lovers would never miss is the RM Instituto Moda e Design, an unorthodox and pioneering fashion and design school with unique and innovative teaching methods. In contrast to other design schools, RM Instituto Moda e Design is open to visitors every day of the week from early morning till midnight. The school offers design courses created to bring together students’ creative ideas with market demands.

For instance, their new master's degree in product and interior design provides in-depth knowledge of materials and production projects, management of projects in all its stages as well as ways of designing comfortable and functional environments with versatile uses. Students also learn new product boundaries and technologies and get a unique opportunity to visit design studios and production houses and participate in industry-related events.

Via Pinturicchio, 11

One of the hidden gems of Milan are its courtyards tucked away from prying eyes behind walls of inconspicuous apartment buildings such as the one in Via Pinturicchio, 11 built by Pierluigi Requliani in 1960 with stone floors with round Carrara marble inlays and pendants by O’Luce.

Bosco Verticale

Bosco Verticale or the Vertical Forest is a high-rise apartment building concept designed by the Italian architect Stefano Boer. It features balconies teeming with myriads of shrubs, trees and plants. This lush greenery absorbs carbon dioxide and very cheaply, stylishly and efficiently reduces air pollution and contributes both to the comfort of living as well as environmental preservation.

Orto Botanico di Brera

Brera’s romantic botanical garden, established in 1774, has risen from obscurity and became a true hotspot throughout the spring fair. As much as it can be tempting to spend your Saturdays in the lush greenery of the garden, take some time to visit the Brera Art Gallery, the Academy of Fine Arts, the Astronomical Observatory and the Braidense Library.

Design aficionados from all over the globe flock to Milan every spring to the city’s famous furniture and décor fair and Design Week, and if fashion and design is your passion, book your flight and find your accommodation for this time of year. But even if you can’t make it then, Milan is the epitome of design, fashion and art every day of the year, so visiting it at any time ensures unforgettable travel experience