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