Italy is one of the most romanticized design countries in the world. From the great works of imperial Rome, to Palladio’s masterful villas, to the architectural lines of Pininfarina, you don’t have to look far to find good design in Italy.
With centuries of design innovation under its belt, Italy continues to stand strong as an undeniable leader in the world of design. Contemporary Italian design emphasizes clean lines to an almost sensual degree, and an evergreen spirit of invention leads to cutting-edge designs that mix modern shapes and processes with time-tested crafts like glass blowing. Iconic design houses like Kartell, FLOS, and Alessi emerged from the Italian design scene and collaborate with the best designers from all over the world, sparking international design trends. The collaborative nature of firms like these combined with the ingenuity of independent designers makes Italy the proverbial Rome of the design world.
Cruise the cobblestone streets of Venice and look for masterful Murano glass shaped into modern masterpieces by brands like De Majo, Foscarini and Studio Italia Design. Travel west on a design-lovers pilgrimage to Milan and behold iconic designs from local brands like Nemo, Kartell, Alessi and FLOS. Heading south? Rome is home not only to one of the ancient wonders of design and architecture (the Colosseum), but also to innovative brands like Slamp that push the boundaries of what materials like plastic can do in a lighting context.
For a full-blown immersive experience of modern design in the heart of Rome, book yourself a suite in the incredibly chic Fendi Private Suites. Encapsulating all that is modern in luxury, these seven suites provide the ultimate Roman Holiday. Look for original prints from Karl Lagerfeld, intimate views of the city and touches of Fendi’s choice materials like Romano leather, fur and crocodile skin.
For a more budget-friendly experience, book one of the many amazing hostels all throughout Italy. The Ostello Bello Medici in Milan provides a friendly and design-infused base for exploring the city. The spaces have a rustic modern feel, with vintage wooden furniture and sleek pendant lights. Bold and variegated colors mixed throughout the spaces create a youthful vibe, holding the “clinical, cold hostel” stereotype at bay.
Modern meets old-world at G-Rough, another posh pad in Rome. Cool and cutting-edge, what stands out the most about this hostel is the dynamic blend of new, vintage and ancient designs. The rough, partially-plastered walls stand against the modernist furnishings and some of the most staggeringly “bling” bathroom walls you have ever seen. A must-see for any dedicated design seeker.
There is almost too much to see in Italy! This treasure-packed peninsula houses an entire empire’s worth of ruins and magnificent architectural achievements. Check out Il Duomo in Florence and marvel over the pure architectural mastery. Paddle past the Palace of the Doges in Venice and soak in its grandeur. Stop by the the Milan Cathedral and admire its austere intricacy, on par with the most ornate churches in Rome.
To escape the buzz of the big cities, head north to lake country and spend a day soaking in the atmosphere and admiring the magnificent estates on Lake Como. Get your fill of architectural prowess (and a possible celebrity sighting!) while you recline lakeside. Wanting a more coastal vibe? Spend some time bouncing between the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily and get the full Mediterranean experience.
Amazing architecture and museums aside, Italy is home to some of the most exciting events for a design aficionado. The Salone del Mobile is the largest furniture fair in the world and happens once a year in Milan. Pair that with Euroluce, where the best and brightest of the lighting world comes to show every other year, and you’ve uncovered only the tip of the design-lovers iceberg. Inspiring design is waiting around nearly every corner in Italy, just waiting to be explored.