April in Milan means design week. Every willing gallery space, wisteria-drenched palazzo, 15th-century church and disused warehouse is seemingly consumed by a cacophony of new chairs, sofas, cabinets, beds, carpets or “design objects” (as they have so esoterically been classed). Over 343,000 journalists, designers and brands from around the world turn up ready to scour for trends, show their wares and – perhaps most importantly – guzzle prosecco and network. It's very hard to get a taxi, and even harder to find an affordable hotel room.
What shines amongst the chaos, quite literally, is lighting. Both throughout the city and in four halls of the monstrous Fiera Milano on Milan's outskirts, lighting designers contribute some of the most interesting work on display.
And what sets lighting apart from the world of chairs, say, is its ability to pair functionality with a sense of sculpture in a far more digestible way to consumers. Meaning: the every person can get away with something a little more radical than perhaps they'd normally go for – a bit more gilt or marble or colour, when such introductions on a piece of furniture would be imprudent. (For example, I am personally obsessed with Tobia Scarpa’s Biagio table lamp produced for Flos; designed in 1968, it gives off an “Alien” vibe and is, with great difficulty, carved from a single block of Carrara marble. Made to order. Drool.)
These are designers at the top of their game, producing some of the best lamps on the scene. The downside of this being that when these products make their way into showrooms and shops, they come at a price. So, without further ado: here's to a bit of design daydreaming with a selection of six of the most luminous launches from Milan design week – even if there's absolutely no way we could afford (most of) them.