A Modernist Villa Outside Milan Provided the Backdrop for This Stellar Showcase of Emerging Design

Something we’ve been thinking about — especially as New York Design Week gets into gear! — is how one of the best things about Milan Design Week is, hands down, the venues. The ornate palazzos, the opulent homes, the secret gardens — each provides a dramatic setting for showcasing furniture and objects that make the exhibits even more spectacular and worth seeing IRL. One recurring showcase — that really knows how to pick its venues — is Alcova, the offsite exhibition of emerging talent founded in 2018 by Valentina Ciuffi of Studio Vedèt and Joseph Grima of Space Caviar that’s quickly become a Salone highlight. Last year’s took place in a former slaughterhouse, and 2022’s in a cluster of semi-abandoned buildings. This year, the duo chose to host half of its exhibition in one of our all-time favorite buildings: Villa Borsani, the 1945 residence designed by Osvaldo Borsani, architect and co-founder of furniture brand Tecno, in Varedo, north of the city. Although much of Borsani’s incredible original furniture was tucked away for the occasion (a reason to go back and revisit), several designers presented impressive new works against the villa’s striking patterned marble floors, custom textiles, and that staircase. Here are a few of our favorite things we spotted there, which, coincidentally, also provides a tour of sorts around this iconic building.

Atelier de Troupe

Atelier de Troupe arguably secured the best spot in the house, displaying its furniture in the foyer against the red and white marble floor and the backlit staircase for which the villa is most recognized. The Los Angeles–based studio’s planar pieces appeared to fit right in, both in terms of form and color, and included cushioned armchairs with flat wooden backs and arms, simple side tables comprising intersecting elements, and an elegant folding screen with both glossy and matte portions.


Supaform took ownership of the upstairs office, where the art and design studio founded by Maxim Scherbakov installed retro-futuristic metal furniture in the form of a desk, armchair, cabinet and floor lamp – each with chunky surfaces and curved profiles that reflected that room’s wood detailing. An old-school computer placed on the desk and file boxes set on the shelves also contributed to the nostalgic vibe.

Tino Seubert x Agglomerati

In a study with perfect parquet flooring on the first floor, London-based studio Agglomerati showcased its Sekka collection of marble tables by designer Tino Seubert. Evolving from Seubert’s Hana series (Japanese for ‘flower’), the tables feature four-pillar bases that are expressed in the center of their tops in a contrasting stone. A selection of five different marbles, including impactful red and green variations, runs through the collection in various combinations, with square and circular tops available as coffee, dining or side tables.

Natalia Criado

Another highlight was Natalia Criado’s takeover of the villa’s kitchen, which she populated with her Joyas en Casa (Jewels at Home) collection of tableware, utensils, vessels, cutlery and other pieces that combine geometric metal forms with plenty of colorful tiny balls as accents. Created using the lost-wax method of casting brass — which is then plated in gold or silver — the designs are intended to represent a fusion between the cultural legacies of Colombia and Italy, according to Criado, who was born in the former and now lives in the latter.

Berenice Curt

The villa’s shaded garden was the setting for a procession of minimalist marble masks, positioned at different heights on stands embedded in white gravel piles. Designed by Paris-based Bernice Curt Architecture, the Testa di Marmi collection is based on traditional Testa di Moro ceramics that typically adorn Sicilian balconies. Each has the same abstract shape and cut-out expression, but is executed in a different colored stone and displayed on a unique chrome base.

Kiki Goti

New York–based Greek designer Kiki Goti’s Selene series occupied the staircase landing on the second floor, where she placed two new glass pieces (a bench and a mirror) produced in collaboration with the Venetian glass manufacturer Vetralia, and two metal works (an accent chair and a table lamp) from her latest collection. The green glass and amorphous forms of the Nuphar mirror, which is based on the shape of a water lily, stood out against the rigidity and sharpness of the brushed aluminum chair pieces, and circular pools of the same glass were placed as “cushions” on top of the bench for added contrast.

Fabian Freytag

Down in the basement, dust sheets draped over what we suspect was Borsani’s original furniture formed the mysterious backdrop for Berlin designer ​​Fabian Freytag’s set of lamps. The designs  have mushroom-shaped milky glass diffusers atop stacks of alternating wood and stone slabs, resulting in Modernist-style pieces that also felt appropriate for the 1940s villa.