Event Planet hits the ‘design’ pavement in Milan


Event Planet’s General Manager, Laura Sage, discovered the wonder that is Milan Design Week as she toured the infamous Salone del Mobile last month. As a creative specialist, Laura immersed herself in the international showcase for innovation and creativity returning with wide eyes and a mind filled (but not exhausted!) with what is possible. Read all about her ‘sensory overload’ experience that left her bursting with inspiration and discover a few insider tips on how to implement the current trends in your events.

By Laura Sage:


“Learning never exhausts the mind” – the words of the famous (and Milan local), Leonardo da Vinci.

Three weeks ago I was one of 400,000 design enthusiasts to converge on the design capital of Italy for the annual Milan Design Week. Being my first time visiting both this city and event, I did not anticipate the experience…little did I imagine a marathon week of design, events, special projects, exhibitions, talented people and every single one of my senses inspired and alive!

Milan Design Week was held in the second week of April and incorporated stand out programs; Salone Del Mobile, Fuorisalone, Euroluce as well as design thought interweaved through all touch points of Milanese daily life; from food to fashion and hospitality.

Salone Del Mobile is an annual international furniture tradeshow, where the mind is overwhelmed by possibility, new trends and interpretations. The world’s best brands were present showcasing their new projects, with many well-known luxury brands (including Event Planet’s clients Bulgari, Land Rover and Dior) leveraging the close connection between design and fashion with show stopping installations and pop ups.

Technology was a continual underlying theme. A standout in the furniture space at Salone Del Mobile was an A.I designed chair by Philippe Starck in collaboration with Kartell. Using an algorithm in 3D software, the requirements of structural integrity and comfort resulted in a modern design using ground breaking technology and methodology – the future of design thinking.

The biennial lighting showcase Euroluce was held at Salone Del Mobile. Euroluce previewed lighting style and innovative solutions, with over 420 exhibitors exhibiting in four pavilions, requiring a full day to enable myself to be immersed and see all the stands! The lighting design was astonishing, however it was the immersive and interactive layer in the lighting designs which captured the imagination and provided inspiration for the ways in which we at Event Planet can enhance the guest experience and engage emotions in event design.

One particular showcase was by Preciosa titled Joy, Life & Light, which mimicked a carousel of light and was designed to move and bring delight to users, connecting on an emotive level. Triggered by sensors (another subtly integrated technological inclusion), the experience constantly moved in response to human movement and was choreographed to enchanting sounds. Joy, Life & Light ignited the five senses and brought a smile to all who experienced it.

Of personal interest was Fuorisalone which was a series of events and special projects around Milan’s famous design districts and ran as a parallel event to Salone Del Mobile. (FYI: in Italian fuori means outside). It provides a platform for both emerging and established artists, brands and designers to exhibit and generally felt more “street level” with unexpected pop ups, public art and installations at almost every turn. What I can only describe as ‘cool’ were so many captivating moments; from better known British sculptor Alex Chinneck unzipping a building for World Revealed, to the mirrored Echo Pavilion in the Palazzo Litta courtyard, to Marc Ange’s Le Refuge de La Nuit and the collaboration between Qeeboo and Marc Antonio called Giraffes in Love. It was however a simple installation hidden away (so much so I have no name for it) that left me in awe, best described as a giant beanstalk-esque growth over a historic building. Once again proving, sometimes splendour is found in the simple.

Milan Design Week surfaced trend, upon trend, upon trend, and upon reflection, I have identified a shortlist of implementation possibilities in our event world:

  • Adaptability – designing elements that can be reused, repurposed and interactive. This could involve technology inclusions such as cordless phone charging hot spots designed into table tops or armchairs, whilst also retaining their aesthetic value and potential to be reused for multiple events.
  • Floating Design, a term coined by myself – a trend in the tradeshow space of what appeared to be floating stands, where the feet and movement of guests could be seen externally however the rest of the interior remained a mystery. It was a wonderful play on not closing off a space and creating intrigue.
  • Keep it green – integrating plants into design and not as an afterthought or simple pot in the corner, but rather acting as the focal point and design feature to transform the atmosphere.

To finish, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous words certainly ring true, Milan Design Week left me not with an exhausted mind, just exhausted feet!