Designs for Life.

We all want our homes to be stylish and well put together. A place to relax in, but also to be proud of. But where should you turn to for sparks of interior design ingenuity…?

Well, if you ever find yourself in Milan, why not be inspired by over 200 iconic pieces, spanning from 1927 to the present day?

Opened in 2019, the Museo del Design Italiano is located in a beautifully curved 1,300m2 space on the ground floor of the Palazzo dell’Arte. The objects on display tell the story of radical experimentation over time, with new materials, techniques and aesthetic codes.

The pieces – some of which are now commonplace in our 21st-century homes – revolutionised the contemporary established orders within the domestic sphere and beyond.

With its curved layout and chronological curation, the museum is fantastic at making the visitor appreciate the impact of domestic designs within the context of their time – something which we may not have otherwise considered. It also lends a newfound appreciation for the aesthetic beauty, and functional genius, of these everyday objects. After all, great artistry does not have to be painted on a canvas and hung in a frame!

To get your creative juices flowing – and maybe even inspire a trip to the museum of your own – we have picked out a few of our favourite objects from the Museo del Design collection…

What are your favourite pieces of interior design that you would also include? Let us know in the comments below!

Bocca Sofa, 1972

The iconic Bocca Sofa was created by the radical Italian design team Studio 65 for the famed Italian manufacturer Gufram back in 1972. Based on an original design by none other than arch-Surrealist Salvador Dali, who took Mae West as his inspiration, Studio 65 looked to that other iconic beauty, Marilyn Monroe, to create this famous sofa… not a bad CV! Unsurprisingly, the voluptuous Bocca Sofa has gone down as a design classic, the perfect blend of playfulness and serious design.

Bialetti Moka Express, 1933

Although now an everyday household item, seen in homes across Italy – and the world – this piece of classic design was a revolution at the time. Designed in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti, the use of aluminium to construct the body of the coffee pot was also a relatively new industrial concept as it was not a traditional “domestic metal”.

Furthermore, it had a big social impact; Espresso machines prior to the Moka Express were large, expensive, and technically complicated. Few people kept them at home, so coffee drinking was largely a public affair. The Moka Express, which was comparatively small, cheap, and easy to use, made it feasible for many more people to brew espresso at home.

Add to that the iconic mascot, known as l’omino con i baffi  (“the moustachioed little man”), that adorns every item – and you have the makings of a classic!

Arco Lamp, 1962

The Arco lamp is a modern overhead lamp designed by brothers Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni for Flos in 1962. The lamp is characterized by a suspended spun aluminium pendant attached to an upright slab of Carrara marble via a large, arching arm made of stainless steel.

The lamp has been in constant production since its original release and is one of the most famous and best selling industrial design products. It has since become an iconic object of Italian design for its modern simplicity that still looks contemporary today.

Affi Walnut/Beech Stool, 2012

Designed by Giulio Iacchetti, the Affi stool is handcrafted by a small family-run business, RCB, which has been based in Seveso, Lombardy, since the ‘50s.

The Affi stool comes in two types of wood: solid walnut for the seat and beech wood for the structure. The different parts of the stool are assembled simply by interlocking the pieces and using no glue or screws. This very simple construction enhances the natural colour variations in the wood.