Icon Design presents Icon Design Talks

A new appointment with architecture and design during the Milano Design Week

  • In Milan from 4 to 9 April master classes, lectures and round table discussions with big names from the world of design
  • Special event: Friday 7 April Rem Koolhaas in conversation with Stefano Boeri

Tomorrow, as part of the Milano Design Week, sees the start of Icon Design Talks, an important appointment in the world of architecture and design, produced by Icon Design, featuring the protagonists who are re-designing our cities, our homes and our lifestyles.

A special event of the meetings will take place on Friday 7 April at 11.30 am, “Writing and the city”: a talk between Rem Koolhaas, winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, and Stefano Boeri, the Italian architect and urban designer.

The Icon Design Talks, that will continue to Sunday 9 April at the Microsoft House, spring from the desire of Icon Design, the Mondadori Group magazine edited by Michele Lupi, to offer the city an authoritative, useful and curious overview of the future of design, and to speak to the many international visitors who come to Milan for one of the most eagerly awaited weeks of the year.

“A laboratory of ideas to extend our reach in the design area,” said the editor Michele Lupi, “giving the entire city the opportunity to know the personalities and stories of some of the leading protagonists of the world of architecture, a characteristic trait of a magazine with a unique formula, that is widely appreciated by both enthusiasts and professionals.”

This is the spirit that has led to the first edition of Icon Design Talks, an extensive programme of events that will enliven Milan during the Design Week. The heart of the event will be at the new Microsoft headquarters, in Viale Pasubio 21, in the dynamic Porta Nuova – Porta Volta district, a brand new space which aims to welcome over 200,000 visitors by offering technologies, skills, as well as opportunities for training and exchange in the digital area. This is where the six days of meetings, open to the public, will take place with more than 20 events including master classes, lectures and round table discussions featuring more than 40 guests from all over the world.

In addition to Rem Koolhaas and Stefano Boeri, taking turns on the stage of Icon Design Talks will be Mario Bellini, Alberto Alessi, Piero Lissoni and Antonio Citterio, Patrik Schumacher – Zaha Hadid Studio, Gregg Jones – Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Marcel Wanders, Max Lamb, Alice Rawsthorn and the chef Bruno Barbieri, Massimiliano Locatelli Barber & Osgerby, Michele Brunello, Dror, Barbara Radice, Giovanni Gastel, Marco Amosso, Silvia Robertazzi, Patricia Urquiola and Alberto Zontone.


The Icon Design Talks will officially begin on Tuesday 4th at 6:30 pm with “Unconfined: The New Galaxy Design” at the presence of Patrik Schumacher, director of the Zaha Hadid Studio since 2016, Younghee Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Mobile Marketing, at Samsung Electronics. Moderator: Michele Lupi.

The marathon will begin on Wednesday 5 April at 10:30 am with the first master class  “Porta Nuova: sustainability and innovation in architecture and design” in the presence of Alida Catella, CEO of Coima Image, Kelly Russell, Managing Director and Marketing & Investor Relations Manager of Coima and the architect Gregg Jones, of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. Together they will talk about the great adventure that began many years ago involving the Porta Nuova project, one of the biggest architectural and urban redevelopment projects in Europe, developed and managed by COIMA SGR, and now a symbol of the new Milan which has transformed the Garibaldi, Isola and Varesine districts. Moderator: Michele Lupi.

Then at 5:30 pm, the second master class entitled “Timeless Design” promoted by B&B Italia where, under the guidance of Manolo De Giorgi, architect and professor of interior architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, three key figures of Italian architecture and design: Mario Bellini, Antonio Citterio, Piero Lissoni will discuss how the concept of timeless design can change compared to a historical period characterised by rapid technological development and the contamination of increasingly expanding multiculturalism.

On Thursday 6 April  at 10:30 am Alice Rawsthorn, the New York Times design critic, will give a lecture entitled “Design Now” followed by a series of lectures by Max Lamb, Massimiliano Locatelli and Barber & Osgerby.

The afternoon begins with a round table that will launch “Manifesto for Urban Creative District“ promoted by China House Vision between Asia and Europe: neighbourhoods conceived on the basis of high aesthetic canons, functional, sustainable and socially inclusive. Live bodies linked to the territory, flexible enough to adapt to changes in a society in continuous transformation. These are the objectives that House Vision Future Life Lab, the Sino-European Innovation Centre, and Dontstop architecture, sponsored by UNESCO ICSSD, brought together in a manifesto with guidelines for new standards of design, for use in thinking about the development potential and urban renewal of Asian countries. Host: Michele Brunello, architect and co-founder of the Sino-European Innovation Centre, together with Vittorio Sun Qun and Caterina Fumagalli.

The afternoon continues with a lecture by Dror Benshetrit at 5:30 pm, followed by another round table dedicated to “Smart working: transparency and dynamism in the workplace” that will focus on the Microsoft case and the AGC Glass Europe Headquarters, and featuring Paola Cavallero, Marketing & Operations director of Microsoft Italia.

At 5.30 pm, Alberto Alessi will talk about “Italian Design Factories and the Alessi case history (1921-2017)” and at 6.30 pm Giovanni Gastel will take part in the presentation of the book “Why death doesn’t separate us” by Barbara Radice, published by Mondadori Electa.

Friday 7 April – Special Event

On Friday 7 April, at 11:30 am, “Writing and the City”, an unmissable conversation between Rem Koolhaas and Stefano Boeri, moderated by Manuel Orazi.

Starting from the their publications, the two ‘archistars’ will discuss the relationship between architecture and the city while trying to answer the question “Why should an architect write about a city when the modifications that he or she makes are already a powerful act of writing on the physical body of the city itself?”

“Language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of narrow streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; all surrounded by a network of new suburbs with straight regular streets and uniform houses”.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen, 1953


Rem Koolhaas is one of the most influential and discussed theorists of contemporary architecture, some of his books have even become genuine best sellers. In 1975, with Madelon Vriesendorp and Elia and Zoe Zenghelis, he founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), of which in 1977 also Zaha Hadid become a member. In addition to designing buildings around the world with OMA, Koolhaas works in non-architectural disciplines – including politics, publishing, media, fashion and sociology – through the AMO think tank, founded in 1999, which is a counterpart of OMA on the research side. In 2000 he was awarded the Pritzker Price for Architecture.

Stefano Boeri is professor of urban design at the Politecnico di Milano and has taught as a visiting professor at many international universities, including the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), the Berlage Institute in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Strelka Institute in Moscow, the Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio and the Politecnique du Lausanna. He is the architect of many notable buildings , such as the Bosco Verticale in Milan (winner of numerous international prizes), the Villa Mediterranée in Marseille and the Casa del Mare on La Maddalena. His studio, Stefano Boeri Architetti, is currently working on urban development plans around Europe and in other parts of the world.

The location for this special event will be the Maria Teresa Room at the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense (Maria Teresa room), in Via Brera 28.

Friday 7 April afternoon continues with a series of lectures and conversations in the Microsoft House.

At 2:30 pm “The Art of Living” with Vincent Van Duysen; at 3:30 pm “This will be the place” featuring Felix Burrichter, Editor/Creative Director of Pin-Up magazine and the journalist Marco Morello, and at 4:30 pm “Designing designers” with Riccardo Balbo, Academic Director of IED Italy. At 5:30 pm the designer Marcel Wanders with Michele Lupi and Arraut Lucas, director of Icon Design Spain will animate a discussion on “Fashion, Media, Design – parallel convergences”.

Finally at 6:30 pm “Car design: back to the future” a conversation on the design of the cars of the future with Carlo Leoni, Director of Communications of the PSA Group Italy and Michele Lupi. Moderator: Angelo Pannofino, journalist.

Saturday 8 April at 10:30 am “Tailor-made design”, a panel discussion on new customised design with Eugenio Cecchin, CEO of Ideal Standard, Marco Grillo of ABITARE IN, and moderated by Michele Brunello, Dontstop Architecture.

At 2:30 pm “Design tales. Video storytelling”, Patricia Urquiola and Alberto Zontone, guest curators of the fifth edition of the Milan Design Film Festival, will talk about new video narratives with Silvia Robertazzi, founder and curator, with Antonella Dedini, of MDFF. Moderated by Michele Lupi.

At 3:30 pm “Masters in the mirror”. An original confrontation between two undisputed masters of contemporary communication, who have created, in light and graphic design, respectively, a descriptive language for their personal vision of art: Italo Lupi and Ingo Maurer. The two maestri will be interviewed by the designer Giulio Iacchetti.

At 4:30 pm the chef Bruno Barbieri and Filippo Polidori (CEO Polidori & partners) will discuss Food: between storytelling and design. Moderated by Michele Lupi.

The Moderator of Icon Design Talks is Gianluigi Ricuperati, a la Repubblica contributor and the author of “La scomparsa di me” and seven other books, translated in France by Gallimard and by other European publishing houses.

Participants must register at: eventi.icondesign.it. All events are free.

The launch of Icon Design Talks also gives life to IDD – Innovation Design District Porta Nuova – Porta Volta. This project, created to support initiatives related to innovation and creativity and sponsored by the City of Milan, was conceived by the Mondadori Group and Mediamond and the creative drive of Icon Design.

All of the events of Icon Design Talks and the Innovation Design District during the FuoriSalone are outlined in the guide produced for the current issue of Icon Design, on newsstands now.


The participation of partner companies has actively contributed to the creation of Icon Design Talks and the invitation of speakers of international standing to enrich the programme.

Peugeot, the main sponsor of the event, will present for the first time in Italy Onyx, a concept car the prototype of which has opened the way towards the revolutionary i-Cockpit – a distinctive feature of the new Peugeot cars – as well as the use of innovative materials in car making. Onyx is the highest expression of the typical experience behind the wheel of a Peugeot and is characterised also by a dynamic design and the innovative coupe franche colour, adopted by the company’s other sports models. The discussion around the Onyx will focus on the car of the future, which must be able to excite consumers, with a round table discussion “Car design, back to the future”.

Alessi has pursued a policy of design excellence that has made the company one of the leading examples of the phenomenon known as “Italian design factories” at an international level. As part of the Talks Alberto Alessi will discuss his vision of design, as the magical world of the circus, with five characters in a limited series designed by Marcel Wanders for the Alessi Circus series, which will form a part of the background of the events.

B&B Italia an authentic example of an “industry for design” has asked three masters of Italian design who work with the company – Antonio Citterio, Mario Bellini and Piero Lissoni to exchange ideas on the theme of “Timeless Design”, starting from the anniversary of the Charles seating system, designed by Citterio in1977, that this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary. B&B Italia has also overseen the outdoor look of the Talks and, in the spaces of Microsoft House, presents its Ray Outdoor Natural and Ray Outdoor Fabric systems, both launched in 2017 and  designed by Antonio Citterio.

Arclinea, leader in high-end kitchen design, presents its outdoor kitchen concept, which integrates perfectly with the outdoor setting designed by B&B Italy. The Artusi stove and preparation counter Flox, designed by Antonio Citterio, will be on show during a live cooking event featuring the chef Luca Marchini – of the Michelin star restaurant “L’Erba del Re” in Modena – a precious testimonial, with his Amaltea school, the Arclinea Design Cooking School, the international network of culinary schools, designed by Arclinea.

Food: between storytelling and design” is the title of the conversation in which Bruno Barbieri, star chef and ambassador of Franke, talks about food. The combination of the world’s leading manufacturer of sinks and high-end appliances and a chef with seven Michelin stars is based on a common passion for cooking, the pursuit of excellence and an ability to tell stories.

Design and technology are the elements that unite the work of Samsung with that of Zaha Hadid Architects. Patrik Schumacher, director of the Studio since 2016 will talk about  “Unconfined the new Galaxy Design“, drawing inspiration from the new Galaxy smartphone design, the heirs of Zaha Hadid, will explore the infinite possibilities that are the result of the union of design and technology.

AGC Glass Europe, European leader in flat glass production, supplied 1224 windows, a total of over 10,000 square metres of glass, for the Feltrinelli Foundation complex. An excellent example of how this material has an increasingly important role to play in architectural design and interiors, the theme of the talk “Smart-working, transparency and dynamism in the workplace” featuring Liesbeth Brake of AGC Europe, Marco Amosso architect of the Lombardini 22 studio which designed the interiors of Microsoft House, Luca Pasqualotto of Copernico and Paola Cavallero, General Manager of  Microsoft Italy.

Tailor-made design: customisation as the new language of ‘living” is a theme of the greatest relevance involving contemporary modes of production in architectural and engineering design, linked to BIM technology. It changes the perspective on spaces, which are no longer rigid containers to be filled with interior design and customised furniture, but a whole environment becomes customised, personalised and designed in a single space. Leading the discussion: architects Michele Brunello, Marco Brega and Alessandro Agosti, of Dontstop Architecture, pioneers of tailor-made design, with Eugenio Cecchin, CEO of the best known Made in Italy brand in bathroom furniture, Ideal Standard.

Kartell, one of the symbolic companies that represent Made in Italy design, brings light to the Icon Design Talks. For the occasion, the external lighting set-up will be made with Kabuki lamps, designed by Ferruccio Laviani in the new outdoor version and characterised by an outline structure, inspired by lace and recreated thanks to a highly sophisticated injection technology, with a perforated surface that diffuses the light. Meanwhile, in the interiors the protagonists will be the Aledin LED table lamps, designed by Alberto and Francesco Meda, in the flathead Tec version, with polycarbonate articulated arms, which have two aluminium slats that act as the conductors in place of wires, for workspaces.

In the January-April period, Icon Design’s advertising revenues grew by 31%, with one issue more than in 2016.
The Icon Design Talks event has further improved the result of the brand, which ended the period up by +78%.

Main Sponsor: Peugeot
Design Partner: Alessi, Arclinea, B&B Italia, Franke, Kartell, Samsung
Architecture Partner: AGC, Ideal Standard
Technical Partner: KE, Renson, Verso
Media Partner: Tgcom 24