Design lovers flock to Milan every year for the storied Salone del Mobile furniture fair, taking place this week from 17–22 April. Whether it’s your first time to the city or your 57th to see one of the most talked about design trade fairs in the world, Milan is always a compelling place to fall in love with all things artful and historical.
One such frequent visitor to the world’s Fashion Capital during design week is Ed Ng, co-founder and principal of Hong Kong design duo AB Concept. Prized around the globe for their exceptional storytelling through their spaces, the firm — co-founded by Ng and Terence Ngan — boast an impressive international CV under their belt with completed projects such as the new Rosewood Sanya, the revamped Bo Innovation, Conrad Guangzhou, Su Yan at the W Suzhou and many more. Works in progress include the W Algarve in Portugal, Macau’s MGM Cotai Hotel, and the harbourfront revitalisation project Victoria Dockside at Tsim Sha Tsui.
In time for Salone del Mobile, the pair has just finished up work on the new flagship outlet of Paper Moon Giardino in Milan — the legendary Milanese restaurant currently expanding all over the world, from Istanbul to Portugal to Hong Kong (ours is located just on the waterfront in TST).
With an obvious eye for art and design, as well as genuine enjoyment and appreciation for the finer things in life, we consulted Ng for a list of his favourite places for design lovers to visit in Milan. See his picks below.
Paper Moon Giardino will definitely top my list of Milan travel recommendations. Terence and I were happily invited by Paper Moon’s owners and our long-time friends Stefania Galligani and Claudio Bertoni to convert the space in a 200-year-old building into their flagship restaurant on Via Bagutta 12. Needless to day, we are more than happy to invite everyone to visit this secret garden in the heart of Milan’s fashion district and enjoy Paper Moon’s incredible food.
Paper Moon Giardino, Via Bagutta, 12, 20121 Milan MI, Italy
Of course, one must not miss the original Paper Moon as well. The legendary restaurant has been renowned in Milan since 1977, and is one of the all-time-favourites of those in the fashion and design world. Actually just a corner away from the new flagship, the original Paper Moon is a really homey restaurant that serves some of the best dishes for those who want a true Italian experience.
Paper Moon Milan, Via Bagutta, 1, 20121 Milan MI, Italy
I often stop by the Radio Rooftop Milan on Via Marco Polo for its stunning view of Milan’s evolving skyline. It’s perfect to kick off the morning with a lavish breakfast in the air or to discuss business over lunch. Of course, it would be a great choice if you are looking for a place to relax while star-gazing after a busy day.
Radio Rooftop Milan, Via Marco Polo, 18, 20124 Milan MI, Italy
Image via Instagram
I love new experiences all the time. I remember during one of my trips to Milan, a friend suggested the restaurant Temakinho for a Japanese-Brazilian food experience. I thought it was pretty interesting to try Japanese-Brazilian food in Milan, and the experience did not disappoint at all! It’s a fantastic gathering place for locals. They are going to open their 4th brand new location right behind the Duomo di Milano soon.
Temakinho, various branches including Corso Garibaldi, 59, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
Locanda Pandenus is like a home away from home in a way. A boutique hotel comprised of just four restored rooms and elegantly furnished with design pieces along with high-grade marble, wood and fine fabrics, everything in Locanda Pandenus represents a great experience for a designer to spend a cosy night and brainstorm for new ideas. Apart from the refined rooms, its bakery/eatery Via Mercato Pandenus turns into a refined bistro at night with a menu created by the Michelin-decorated chef Enrico Bartolini.
Locanda Pandenus, Via Mercato, 24, Milano MI, Italy
Milan’s Modern Art Gallery is always worth a visit and now located in it is LùBar Villa Reale, a restaurant with a real innovative design. LùBar means ‘the bar’ in the Sicilian language. The café is known and loved for its bespoke style, particularly for its secret garden where you can enjoy some quiet time.
LùBar, Via Palestro, 16, 20121 Milan MI, Italy
MUDEC — Milan’s Museum of Culture — is also one of the best places to spend some leisure time in Milan. The Milan City Council bought an old Ansaldo industrial plant in 1990 which was later turned into a Museum of Culture. I’m always fascinated by structures that blend heritage and modern elements together, this can be seen in a lot of AB Concept’s works as well. An example is the recent Paper Moon Giardino project where we preserved the structure of the 200-year-old building and turned it into a brand new restaurant.
Museo delle Culture, Via Tortona, 56, 20144 Milano MI, Italy
For somewhere to spend a quality evening in Milan, I would pick Spirit de Milan. There are always live music performances, swing dance nights on the large stage and dance floor, not to mention genuine Italian food. It’s a lively Milanese hub to have fun, dance, play, eat and enjoy some time in a pure local atmosphere.
Spirit de Milan, Via Bovisasca, 57/59, 20157 Milan MI, Italy
Image via Instagram
CityLife Shopping District is a hub of architecture and lifestyle. I enjoy breathing in the fresh air from the large public park nearby, while browsing the scenic view of three spectacular skyscrapers designed by Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Arata Isozaki — an architectural challenge and Italy’s largest urban lifestyle district. It’s also the largest urban shopping area in Italy.
CityLife Shopping District, Piazza Tre Torri, 20145 Milano MI, Italy
Image via Instagram
Apart from Locanda Pandenus, there is also the lovely hotel Il Sereno, Lago di Como. You can just take a 50-minute drive from the heart of Milan for a grand escape. Fully designed by Patricia Urquiola and situated along the shoreline of Lake Como, the hotel is simply a beautiful site and the home of luxury experiences. Everything’s possible at this hotel: I’ll go for wine tastings and cooking classes with a few friends, or go hiking, golfing or even boating nearby the hotel under the bright sunshine.
Il Sereno Hotel, Via Torrazza, 10, 22020 Torno CO, Italy