Apartments: the Ultimate
Exhibition Space?

Milan Design Week has become legendary for many reasons. One of them is the celebrated show’s innovative use of private apartments instead of showrooms and trade show booths to display their exhibits. Design installations curated inside private residencies of all kinds throughout the beautiful Italian city have come to play a significant role in the experience of Milan Design Week.

In contrast to overpopulated trade show floors, domestic interiors engender more genuine, intimate and memorable experiences. A well-imagined and displayed apartment installation suggests visual and conceptual aspects of its design. It presents a story that invites visitors to engage with and imagine their own narrative.

Apartment installations also add a layer of voyeurism that makes the experience far more intriguing for attendees than the same display set in a conventional showroom. The ingenuity of this curatorial decision has made Milan Design Week a destination not only for design geeks and professionals, but also social media influencers and journalists eager to broadcast the experience.

For the participating designers and brands, apartment installations are an opportunity for multi-disciplinary professionals to collaborate with pioneering brands to demonstrate what visionary design can do.  Instead of merely displaying the latest goods, the installations enable visitors to experience their imagined concepts of homes. Italian architect and designer, Ella Ossino, remarked in an interview about their Milan apartment installation Perfect Darkness:

“At this moment, it’s much more interesting for people to see a real apartment. Showrooms are so cold, and the home is something special.”

Perfect Darkness, a multi-room apartment installation by Elisa Ossino and Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer for Milan Design Week 2019.

A well-received apartment installation is clearly a victory for everyone involved. In fact, we’d suggest that design installations displayed in real apartments isn’t an idea that needs to remain exclusive to Milan. Is there any reason Toronto’s eclectic neighbourhoods and interesting homes couldn’t house art and design shows of our own? Exhibiting in private residences would add a new, fascinating aspect to our continually evolving Toronto Design Week.  It would also attract a broader range of corporate sponsors, participating brands, cross-disciplinary professionals and associated media outlets. The possibilities are as wide as the benefits are substantial. So, what are we waiting for?