Good design is a gateway to the world, a universal language understood around the globe. Effective design showcases the brilliance of individual creators along with the cultures and contexts in which they work. And it’s certainly worth traveling for—hence the emergence of international design weeks. Every year, amazing exhibitions of high style and exceptional craftsmanship take place in cities globally.
Here are six you won’t want to miss, along with some of the most stunning homes nearby. For true patrons, establishing a home base near these flagship events can make a one-off experience an annual pilgrimage. After all: a design enthusiast visits; an aficionado moves in.
Dubai Design District, United Arab Emirates, photo courtesy of Solkafa/ Shutterstock Inc
Dubai has become synonymous with design; over the last decade, it has witnessed the rise of an avant-garde skyline whose buildings have shattered world records and won accolades. Within this architectural wonderland, the innovative Dubai Design District (d3) hosts Dubai Design Week every November. And in September, thousands of interior designers, decorators, artisans, and architects, converge on the city for INDEX Dubai.
This spectacular penthouse, situated in the heart of downtown just across the water from d3, puts visitors at the heart of Dubai. It’s a rare unit in Burj Khalifa, the tallest freestanding structure in the world. This luxury home has a front-row seat to some of the most interesting and iconic architecture in the world.
But why fixate on the landmarks around this residence when you could be enjoying the landmark features within? Leading Dubai firm Bishop Design is responsible for the contemporary interiors, set among curving open-concept spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, photo courtesy of Gustav Kaiser / Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair
Nordic design is well-known around the world for its elegance and functionality, and every February, Sweden’s enchanting capital lights up the long Scandinavian winter with Stockholm Design Week and the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair. Hundreds of events, exhibitions, and installations are on display, featuring work by household names as well as exciting newcomers.
A spacious loft in Östermalm is a great way to get cozy in this chilly city and take in the sights during the short days and long nights. With its edgy, sloped ceilings and exposed beams, this beautiful apartment on historic Sibyllegatan is a blank canvas—and therefore, a design buff’s dream.
Marina Bay Sands, photo courtesy of Ake Wa/ Shutterstock Inc
A futuristic metropolis set in the tropics, Singapore is home to some of the most striking architecture and design in the world; look no further than the famous Marina Bay Sands and the public Gardens by the Bay nearby. It’s only natural that it would be the focal point for one of the premier creative gatherings in Asia Pacific: Singapore Design Week, which typically goes for two weeks, and in its latest edition hosted over 100 events and 200,000 visitors.
Of course, many of the city’s most eye-catching design landmarks are mainstays—like this luxury condominium in District 9. The building is by the acclaimed firm Arquitectonica, and the innovative Y-shaped layout maximizes both the floorspace and windows, which overlook Singapore’s major shopping and entertainment strip on Orchard Road.
Salone del Mobile, photo courtesy of Salone del Mobile.Milano by Alessandro Russotti
The mere mention of Milan makes most people think of fashion, with brands like Prada, Armani, Gucci and Versace headquartered in the city. But every March, it’s the interior and industrial designers who truly put on a show.
Milan Design Week is arguably the most iconic event of its kind, and its crown jewel is the Salone del Mobile furniture fair. What was once a trade show is now a confluence of epic conversations and larger-than-life ideas, with installations and demos from over 2,500 companies. In the off-season, patrons can still enjoy the largest permanent trade fair in Europe, hosted by Fiera Milano.
To really embrace the spirit of industrial design, escape to this turn-of-the-century loft. Originally a distillery for Compari, the building has undergone recent renovations; the eclectic mix of materials—checkered tile, wooden paneling, exposed brick—makes this home a feast for the eyes and a rare collector’s item. Not to mention, 10 Corso Como, a hub of Milan culture and style, is just down the street.
NYCxDesign, photo courtesy of NYCxDesign
Each May, New York City becomes the center of the design world with NYCxDesign, a series of fairs, events, and celebrations that span all five of its boroughs. Of course, Manhattan is at the heart of the festivities, and the ICFF at the Javits Center has been an institution of luxury style for over three decades.
Manhattan may be in the thick of the action—but after several consecutive days of events, Midtown can be exhausting.This converted Brooklyn condominium is a perfect oasis for design aficionados looking to take a breather: originally constructed in 1927, it once served as the printing facility for theNew York Daily News, but now offers 4,000 square feet of outdoor living space, a two-tiered private garden, and an open-concept interior that gives the owner complete creative license.
DW! São Paulo Design Weekend Installation, photo courtesy of DW! São Paulo Design Weekend
São Paulo has always known how to put on a show, and DW! São Paulo Design Weekend is no exception. Though it’s younger and less established than its counterparts in Milan and New York, DW! is known for its wide selection of featured events, and is the largest design festival in Latin America.
For a home away from home in South America’s design capital, it’s difficult to do better than this apartment. Not only does the building bear the signature of modern design legend Daniel Libeskind, but the interiors have been meticulously appointed by noted Brazilian decorator Dado Castello Branco. To top it off, this retreat among the treetops comes with furniture from Minotti, along with the latest home automation systems.
Design weeks invite you to enjoy an ephemeral experience—a fleeting snapshot of world-class style that lasts for just a few days. But you can turn a weekend into a lasting work of art: whether you’re looking for a blank canvas to style, or a turnkey showroom featuring the work of today’s top artisans, there are apartments waiting for you the world over. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find one just around the corner from your favorite festival of contemporary design.
Take inspiration from the world’s top design destinations, and source your own home with remarkable details.
Italy’s second largest city is no slouch. Centuries of history, art, and culture underscore its reputation as a high fashion destination, design hub, and foodie paradise. Milan is also the nation’s financial and economic capital, drawing in business and design powerhouses from around the world. Whatever the reason you come to Milan, you’re sure to find yourself in close proximity of something to revere.
Start your sacred Sunday in the fashion district among the haute couture boutiques in an on-trend contemporary penthouse. Take in the views of the Duomo from your lower private terrace or 360-degree views of the city from a second terrace upstairs before pouring over your options in the walk-in closet. Alternatively, you can rise nearby, in an exclusive two-story penthouse with concierge service, complete with 180-degree views of Viale Luigi Majno and sweeping city vistas.
Wherever you start, it is sure to be close to a spot for “colazione all’italiana” (Italian breakfast), which consists mainly of three major coffee food groups: espresso, cappuccino, or latte macchiato. Pair your pick with an Italian cornetto—usually more petite and sweeter than the French croissant, and often filled with jam, cream, or chocolate spread. If you want to wander to a true breakfast institution, venture over to Via Montenapoleone and visit the 19th-century-built Cova or Marchesi cafés.
Hopping on a tram and getting lost in the city is a favourite Milanese pastime, so beyond the beautiful Duomo di Milano, you’ll find some hidden and entertaining treasures in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a glass arcade shopping center first designed in 1861, or the romantic Orto Botanico di Brera gardens in the art-laden district of Brera, where pathways of greenery and lush flora may convince you that you’ve suddenly stepped into the countryside.
Even if you didn’t wake up next to it (possibly because you’re in Milan’s modern Porta Nuova district, where impressive new skyscrapers are changing the skyline of the city), the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli is Milan’s oldest and most impressive park. Since 1784, the gardens have been repeatedly enlarged and enriched with educational attractions, including the Natural History Museum and Planetarium.
Head to the young and dynamic district of Tortona for lunch, where new and innovative restaurants serving Indian and Japanese dishes are mixing it up amongst the old Milanese osteria. A plate of traditional “cotoletta” (pan-fried veal) is sure to satisfy.
After your bite, you must shop. After all, Milan is an epicenter of global style. In Brera, Tortona and Naviglio, small boutiques with emerging luxury designers offer shoppers something fresh, while in the Via Montenapoleone fashion district, you can find the most famous labels within steps of each other.
To visitors, Milan may be a pizza and pasta heaven, but to real foodies, it is a Michelin-star capital. Try Cracco in Galleria, Iyo, or Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia to start. More casual but equally delightful fare can be found at luxury Indian spot Cittamani, hipster hangout Dabass, or Potafiori, where you can eat amidst bold arrangements of the seasons latest blooms.
Post-dinner cocktails and aperitivos can be found along the Corso Garibaldi, which doubles as a fantastic pedestrian street, should you wish to walk off your meal. Or head back to Brera, where Bar Jamaica has hosted Italian artists and poets since 1911, including Gianni Dova, Roberto Crippa, and Erenesto Treccani.
“Milan is full of hidden treasures, from the Giardino Botanico in Brera to the old Milanese streets close to Corso Magenta,” agree Milan real estate experts Ilaria Pinto and Nerina Masini from Italy Sotheby’s International Realty.“You should hop on a tram and get lost in the city”.
Wherever you plan to shop, see, and eat the day away, your Sunday in Milan is sure to be full of serendipitous turns and surprises and wrapped in the city’s rich history.