From April 17 to 22, design and architecture insiders will descend upon Milan for the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile (cosmit.it), or Design Week. The world's most famous furniture, lighting and accessories fair is a five-day forum for top talents to present their latest designs to press, buyers and farsighted collectors. Much of the action, of course, takes place outside the fairgrounds at parties, restaurants, boutiques and hotels. In town for the Salone? Follow these tips from these Milan regulars and insiders.
Viktor & Rolf Fashion designers
The majority of our travel to Milan is business-related, so it's not often that we are able to explore all the city has to offer. However, we've discovered some real hidden gems that have become staples on our visits.
One of the best shops in the world is 10 Corso Como (Corso Como, 10; 10corsocomo.com). It's a shopping heaven that sprawls around a courtyard and consists of a bookstore, café and fashion store. The best brands are sold there and always merchandised in a unique and innovative way. Its risk-taking really sets it apart from many other fashion stores it's like a world unto itself! We also visit No. 30 (Via della Spiga, 30; n30milano.com), another independent luxury boutique with a finely curated brand selection. We'll hold a cocktail party there during Salone del Mobile.
For lunch we might go to Bebel (Via San Vittore, 3; bebel.it), known for its traditional Milanese-trattoria-style menu and wine list. We rarely get the time to take in exhibitions, but if time permits, we head for the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie for a look at Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. Then come evening, we love to have dinner at Ristorante Joia (Via Panfilo Castaldi, 18; joia.it), a Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant where the dishes are not only superb but also poetic. If the mood calls for something trendier, we also love Nobu (Via Pisoni, 1; noburestaurants.com/milan) at the Armani complex it's somewhat of a tradition for us.
Claudio Luti CEO, Kartell, Milan-based furniture brand
If you want to enjoy Milan at its best, book a room at the Bulgari Hotel (Via Privata Fratelli Gabba, 7/b; bulgarihotels.com), and start your day with breakfast in the garden. Then go out and have a stroll to the Quadrilatero (Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga), an unmissable shopping destination. You can visit some of the best Italian fashion stores, all gathered in a few streets.
In the afternoon, I'd have a walk in the old Brera district and visit the Pinacoteca di Brera (Via Brera, 28; www.brera.beniculturali.it) one of the city's most important art collections, with works by Caravaggio, Rubens and Tintoretto. Then pop into our Kartell flagship boutique (Via Carlo Porta, 1; kartell.it), and check out our recently launched collaboration between Philippe Starck and Lenny Kravitz.
In the evening, head to the opera. You cannot leave Milan without visiting La Scala (Via Filodrammatici, 2; teatroallascala.org), which has mounted world-class operas since 1778 and appointed Daniel Barenboim as its new musical director just last December. Or, if you love sports, buy tickets for a soccer match at San Siro (Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Via dei Piccolomini, 5; sansiro.net). I love to visit and I always root for AC Milano.
Dror Benshetrit New York City based industrial designer
I'm going to the Salone this year to launch my new collection for Tumi luggage.
I love to begin my day with morning coffee and newspapers at Fioraio Bianchi (Via Montebello, 7; fioraiobianchicaffe.it). Then if I have time for shopping, I'll pay a visit to this old stationery and printing house called Pettinaroli (Piazza San Fedele, 2; www.fpettinaroli.it), behind the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The house used to provide paper for Italian nobility and intellectuals during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
After lunch, I head for Spazio Rossana Orlandi (Via Matteo Bandello, 14 16; rossanaorlandi.com), a design atelier and boutique set in a former tie factory in the Magenta district. The shop is hidden inside a courtyard, and once inside you'll find it hard to leave. The owner, Rossana Orlandi, is an interesting character and design doyenne of Milan's always thriving design scene. I'll browse the furniture section and pick up an accessory or two.
When time allows, I like to visit the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci (Via San Vittore, 21; museoscienza.org), which is housed in a former 16th century monastery and includes models, tools and drawings by the great master himself. The museum has been a major inspiration for Passaggio, my new multimedia installation. I also make sure to visit the Galleria d'Arte Moderna (Via Palestro, 16; gam-milano.com), where the exhibitions are always humbling and inspiring.
Come evening, I head for an early drink at Giacomo Milano (Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 6; giacomobistrot.com), a French-, English- and Italian-influenced bistro that for me is really the epitome of chic Italian style. And I love to have dinner at Cracco (Via Victor Hugo, 4; ristorantecracco.it) or Il Ristorante Trussardi alla Scala (Piazza della Scala, 5; trussardiallascala.com).