Milano Design Week

Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone 2024

Cafe Culture at the Fuorisalone 2019: five pop-ups cafes all over Milan

From reinventions of historic Milanese institutions to temporary industrial pop-ups, this year’s cafe for concepts came in some creative forms.

Concepts Cafè have been popping up all over Milan this week and our appetites are certainly grateful. Whether its because so much of the work on display will one day live in a restaurant or hospitality concept and brands want to stay one step ahead, or because they’re coming around to the realisation that a glass of cold prosecco won’t keep roving hoards of hungry editors around for more than a few quick glances before they’re onto the next thing, but it seems that this year, everyone really wants you to sit down and have something good to eat. If 2018 was all about disco dancing and late night parties — like Gufram’s disco-themed exhibition or Matteo Cibic’s The Tile Club — this time around feels more like brunch the morning after. From reinventions of historic Milanese institutions to temporary industrial pop-ups, this year’s cafe concepts came in some creative forms.

Caffè Concerto Cucchi by Cristina Celestino is the first out of the gate, opening the week before Salone for a locals-only preview, was Caffe Concerto Cucchi, dreamed up in the creative mind of Cristina Celestino. For the project, Celestino made over the historic Cafe Cucchi in her signature shades of turquoise and pink, lining the walls with silk and metallic tapestries, installing floral shaped lighting by Kundalini and covering the bistro’s tables with swirling inlaid marble in creamsicle colours. She even made over the dessert list in the form of tiny pastries in her trademark style.

Caffè Populaire by Lambert et Fils and DWA Design Studio is over on the north side of town, in the markedly more industrial setting of Alcova, the dilapidated former Panettone factory turned exhibition space, Canadian lighting brand Lambert et Fils and Milan-based DWA collaborated on restaurant pop-up Caffè Populaire. Billed as ‘a place of sanctuary during the hustle’ and a spot ‘to gather around a common table to share food and ideas,’ the two teams have been hosting nightly dinners and daily breakfasts for friends and collaborators to congregate and catch up. The space is articulated by a DWA-designed horseshoe-shaped dinner table and matching stools, as well as a circular coffee bar, which serves visitors throughout the day. Suspended above the table is an installation by Lambert et Fils collaborator Rachel Bussin in the form of a series of overlapping two-dimensional coloured glass lights hung with wide black straps, a clever graphic addition to the cavernous location.

Caffè Populaire by Lambert et Fils and DWA Design Studio at Alcova, photo Arseni Khamzin

Rochelle Canteen at No Man’s Land by Kvadrat and Raf Simons is an unlikely trio of collaborators are responsible for the next stop, but together their project make perfect sense. Denmark-based textiles company Kvadrat teamed up with fashion designer Raf Simons on a new collection of upholstery fabrics and they brought London’s Rochelle Canteen along for the ride. The space, a former garage on via Archimede, is scattered with a series of Jean Prouvé-designed cabins showing off Kvadrat’s new materials — but the cafe is where the real fun is. Margot Henderson imported her simple menu of British classic fare — asparagus with soft boiled eggs; poached chicken and broad beans; duck rillettes and cornichons — to Milan in the stripped-down industrial setting. It is certainly worth spending an afternoon there.

The Manzoni by Tom Dixon is the only permanent place on the list goes to Tom Dixon, who, after years of popping into Milan each April for Salone, wanted to make a proper commitment to the city. His brand new restaurant concept The Manzoni soft opens this week for previews but will open permanently in the following days. Within the space, Dixon will debut FAT, OPAL and SPRING collections of seating and lighting. The extravagantly fitted out location acts as both a cafe and showroom, with plans to circulate Dixon’s latest pieces in as they are released. Materials are as opulent as expected, featuring a monolithic granite bar, lava stone tiles, and a multitude of marble varieties all sourced from throughout Italy. Meanwhile, food is under the director of Modenese chef Marta Pullini.

Bar BAAS at Ristorante Dinky is not stranger to a Salone statement, Maarten Baas — who won the Milano Design Award in 2017 for his collaboration with Lensvelt — returns to the Centrale area with Bar Baas, a riff on the iconic late-night Salone sbagliato stop. With a base in Ristorante Dinky just across the street from his Ventura Centrale exhibition, Baas has switched out the historic pizzeria’s regular furniture with a whole new hot pink set by Lensvelt as well as his powder pink Cor Unum Anarchy vases and a selection of his design objects for Canoof.

Opening photo: Caffè Populaire by Lambert et Fils and DWA Design Studio at Alcova. Photo by Arseni Khamzin

Milan Design Week 2019
8th-14th April

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