Picks of the month: the best design events in April

Design things to see and do this month include Salone del Mobile, a festival of games design and a book exploring diaspora aesthetics in the home.

Design Week: Salone del Mobile, Milano and Fuorisalone

The largest annual design event takes place in Milan this month, made up of furniture fair Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone – which translates roughly as “outside Salone” – taking place in different design districts across the city.

The 61st edition of Salone expects to welcome more than 370,000 visitors and will showcase work from thousands of brands. Accessibility improvements this year are made by having all stands on one exhibition level, while new sustainability measures aim to help the fair achieve ISO 20121 certification for sustainable events management.

Taking place alongside Salone is biennial lighting design exhibition Euroluce. This edition will incorporate a greater cultural component than usual, with interdisciplinary experiential content, a streetscape-inspired structure and an events plaza curated by Formafantasma at its centre.

Fuorisalone’s overall theme is the “Future Lab” looking for future solutions to critical issues across installations and events throughout Milan

Milan design week takes place from 17 – 23 April 2023, at various sites across Milan and the Fiera Milano exhibition centre, Strada Statale Sempione, 28, 20017 Rho MI, Italy. Design Week will be attending Milan design week, with coverage to follow later this month.

Festival: Now Play This 1-9th April 2023 (excluding Monday 3 April)

As part of the city-wide London Games Festival, Now Play This is an eight-day showcase of experimental game design at Somerset House in London. Featuring interactive installations from a global selection of independent game designers drawn from an open call, the festival also includes talks, panel discussions, workshops and live play events.

This year’s festival explores the theme of “love”. The eight days allow the festival to be “slower and longer” giving time and space to explore an expanded and ethical view of love, inspired by American scholar and activist bell hooks, encompassing friendship, romance, self-care, consent and grief.

The games on show range from the app-based to hands-on. Highlights include a game where players are pitted against an AI to see if they can guess what love-related sketch their partner is drawing first; a feminist “anti-dating simulator” that interrogates the tactics of psychological manipulation, coercion and flattery used by “pick-up artists”; or another game where you play as a cat, simply trying to cheer-up your human and get them through the day.

Now Play This is at Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA from 1-9 April, excluding Monday 3 April. More information can be found on the website

Book: The Front Room: Diaspora Migrant Aesthetics in the Home

The Front Room: Diaspora Migrant Aesthetics in the Home by writer, scholar, playwright, artist and curator Michael McMillan, looks at the post-war British experience of immigrants through examining the material culture of the “front room” of domestic interiors.

McMillan was responsible for the Geffrye Museum’s 2005 exhibition, The West Indian Front Room, since iterated in Tate Britain’s Life between Islands (2021) and now as the permanent 1970s period room at the Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffrye Museum). Originally published in 2009, the new edition of the book includes new essays and other updates, broadening its international scope.

Primarily concerned with Caribbean-British homes, the publication also takes in Moroccan, Surinamese, Antillean and Indonesian migrant communities in the Netherlands. Oral histories, archival documents and photography express shared diasporic markers in domestic interiors, from the radiogram to crochet decorations.

Exploring the experience of making a home in a society in which you are Othered, McMillan also draws on his own family’s migrant experience, looking at the transition from colonial to post-colonial modernity and “being and becoming Black British”.

Original essays by Stuart Hall, Denise Noble, Carol Tulloch and Dave Lewis have been updated and sit alongside poetry by Khadijah Ibrahiim and Dorothea Smartt, and paintings by Sonia Boyce Kimathi Donkor and Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

The Front Room: Diaspora Migrant Aesthetics in the Home by Michael McMillan will be published on 17 April 2023 by Lund Humphries. It can be pre-ordered here.


Event: Sustainable Design Forum


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Held by the Sustainable Design Collective and Women in Office Design, this one day forum looks to open conversations between designers, suppliers and manufacturers. Intended specifically for architects and designers, the small-scale format hopes to  provide useful networking opportunities for those who attend.

As well as giving presentations throughout the day, suppliers will also be available for one-to-one discussions. Upstairs, a materials area will provide information for designers about the latest material innovations and will host sustainable materials workshops from Conran & Partners, TP Bennett and Perkins & Will.

Discussion topics include benchmarking and certification, how to pitch sustainable products to clients, and interviews with Bureau Group, Cosentino, The Furniture Practice and Vitra.

The Sustainable Design Forum takes place on 25 April at the Crypt on the Green, Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0EA. You can register to attend here.  

Book launch and workshop: BCNMCR 2023

BCNMCR, standing for Barcelona Manchester, was first launched by designer Dave Sedgwick a decade ago to celebrate these two unique creative cities. At the time, Sedgwick described to Design Week how he found local studios Lamosca, Lo Siento, Mayuscula Brands and Mucho great inspiration when visiting the Spanish city.

While tickets for the third and “100% definite final BCNMCR” on 21 April have sold out, there’s still a chance to get your hands on a unique limited-edition publication, featuring the work of sixty Barcelona-based creatives and exclusive interviews with many of them.

The book has been designed by Sedgwick’s StudioDBD and printed on Winter & Company paper by Team Impression. It will cost £20 on the night and the launch is free to attend, with drinks included. Hot-stamping foil specialists FOILCO will run a foiling workshop, and designers from the featured studios will be in attendance.

BCNMCR’s book launch takes place from 6 – 8 pm on 20 April 2023 at Unitom bookshop, 1a Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN. For more information, visit the website.


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