Milan Design Week 2019 [Fuorisalone Diary Day 1]

When I went to Milan to attend Salone Del Mobile with C.P Hart Bathrooms last year,  I was blown away by the sheer scale and size of it. And then I started exploring Fuorisalone - the events that take place around Milan on the same week as Salone Del Mobile, and OH MY GOD... I was utterly inspired and vowed to go back the following year.

The official event count this year was 1351 across eight design districts and I imagine there are many more unofficial ones too. It's overwhelmingly huge, and spread over the city in several different areas, so it's advisable to have a plan if you have specific things you want to see. Equally if you're not into planning, just hit a different design district or two each day and wander and you'll stumble upon things, also see if anything that grabs your attention on instagram and add it to your list!

Most of it is entirely walkable (if you're a keen walker!) or easily doable on the metro.

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary Day 1 - Fuorisalone
The eight design districts - map courtesy of Fuorisalone

I think there are a couple of myths surrounding MDW and I thought it might be helpful to wade in on that.

Myth One: It's elitist.

No it's not. Although there are many press only and invitation only events and parties, almost all exhibitions are open to the public for most of the week after the initial press only previews, and are free to get into. You don't have to be in the industry and you don't have to have any credentials - you can just be an interested anyone. It's not scary - promise! The exception to that was the Versace installation (perhaps unsurprisingly!) which we had to blag our way into. They're big on business cards generally, which seems ridiculous as you and I know they literally mean nothing, but would actually be really helpful. Note to self to make sure I have some made before next year because they would have come in handy. And yes, it will probably take me all year to get around to it.

Myth Two: It's obscenely expensive.

It doesn't have to be. Of course if you choose to stay at a beautiful hotel it will be, and the tales are true about huge price hikes for accommodation during design week, but honestly, you don't need the glamorous hotel if like me you're just going to sleep there each night for a few hours before getting up and pounding the pavements again. Do some research and book your hotel early or get a group together and book an Airbnb well in advance.

I think those are the two main myths. It's not expensive to eat and drink there either - depending on where you go of course, and it can absolutely be done on a tight budget. Flights are also pretty cheap if you're happy to fly with not-so-easyJet.

So don't let the myths get in the way of going and soaking up all that incredible inspiration next year! Because if you're a design lover, you too will return with a head full of inspiration, a camera / phone bursting with beautiful images, probably a blister or three on your weary feet, achy legs and possibly in need of an alcohol detox. Or is that just me?

Right, let's get down to the details. I thought that rather than writing a trend report, that I'd break it down into a daily diary of what I did, what I loved, tips and hacks, and of course lots of trend alerts too. There will be an instalment every day this week - one for every day I was there.


I was invited to go to Milan a day earlier than I'd originally planned with the Ikea press team to attend the launch of their SYMFONISK collaboration with Sonos, rather handily alongside my friend Lisa Dawson, so I gate-crashed her hotel at Gatwick the night before to save myself from having to get up horrifically early for our 9am flight to Malpensa.

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone

Despite best laid plans, delays meant we ended up dropping our bags at the hotel and heading straight to the event location in the Tortona area and it didn't disappoint! Following really interesting talks about sound and light by leading sound consultant Martin Hallberg, Chronobiologist Anna Wirz-Justice, Bjorn Block (Business and Development Leader, Ikea Home Smart, Ikea) Tad Toulis (Vice President of Design, Sonos) the new designs were officially launched.

There had already been press images circulating of the book-shelf speaker, but it was the first time the table lamp with speaker was allowed to be shown publicly. Rumour has it that these two products that so cleverly integrate sound into home furnishings, will not be the last from this partnership. It's such an exciting collaboration - the book-shelf speakers which will retail for £99 when they hit the stores in August will work brilliantly in so many rooms including (I think!) kids rooms. The table lamp speakers would be amazing bedside lamps for grown-ups (or very lucky kids), and will retail for £179.

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone

After the Ikea launch excitement it was time for a stroll around Tortona to look at some other installations. First stop was ex.t to drool over some beautiful matt black and brass bathroom taps, and matt ceramics in soft fleshy nudes and whites.

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone

Wandering is often the best way of seeing some fab but unplanned spots and we stumbled upon an area of exhibits which included this lovely space showcasing the new Rafael outdoor furniture collection for Ethimo designed by Paola Navone, a gorgeous plant and flower shop, and as you can always expect in Milan, some stunning lighting.

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone
Mario Tsai 'Mazha' Light

The Mario Tsai installation was brilliant with huge pieces including the 'Mazha' light, and right next door The Mumoon installation featured lighting by various designers including the Cosmonaut lamps by Dos Signorotto Design (LOVE!), and the Hold modular lighting system, also by Mario Tsai.

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone
Mario Tsai 'Hold' Modular Lighting, Mario Tsai 'Mazha' Light, Dos Signorotto 'Cosmonaut' Lamps

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone

British Sculptor Alex Chinneck's unzipped building facade was an incredible sight when walking into the Opificio 31 exhibition area.

Then it was well and truly time for a spritz and food at Osteria Del Binari - beautiful traditional interiors and food to match. I *may* have had to be rolled home after eating more than my fair share of antipasti, Milanese Risotto and Osso Bucco.

French For Pineapple Blog - Milan Design Week Diary 2019 - Day 1 - Fuorisalone

Trend Alerts:

Marble / Neutrals & Fleshy Pinks / Statement Lighting / Monochrome / Black Taps / Brass

Top Tips:

You can fly into Malpensa or Linate. Linate is closer to the city centre. Since this is my diary rather than a complete Milan travel guide I'm focussing on my experience, so this information is based on flying into Malpensa which is what I've done both years.

Airport Transfers: You can get a coach or train into central Milan. The coach is around €14 for a return ticket and takes less than an hour and they run pretty regularly. The express train is €20 return and takes 52 minutes. Both will take you to Milano Centrale which is then either a walk or metro ride to pretty much all destinations. Taxis are much more pricey - currently a fixed price of €95.

Left Luggage: If you think you'll need to use the left luggage on your last day (believe me, you do NOT want to be carting your bags around all day and in and out of exhibitions) don't use the one at the station that has crazy queues, but you can pre-book this one which is a few minutes walk away to avoid the massive queues at the station itself and to avoid missing out. It's currently €2.49 for an hour and €10.49 for four. Make sure you use an email address you can access as I didn't get a text message as promised and you need the code to open your locker again. It's all automated and un-manned (though there is an emergency button to communicate with them). The lockers are quite big - a small one fits 2 cabin sized suit cases and a large one will fit four.

Metro: The metro is easy to use, efficient and cheap! It's €4.50 for 24 hours or €8.50 for a three day ticket. You can use that ticket everywhere on the Metro, but if you're going out to Rho Fiera (the location of Salone Del Mobile) you will need to purchase a separate ticket.

Steps: 12,539

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post - I was under no obligation to write about for Ikea x Sonos, though I was hosted by them during my first day and a half.

All images are copyright Bianca Hall except where noted. Please be a good human and make sure you credit and link / tag me if you use them.

Come back tomorrow for my Day Two diary instalment!

Jungle Fever Part 2

Okay, I admit it, it's been rather a lot longer than a week since I promised this second part of my Jungle Fever post. I blame life. And the children, and very few opportunities to take nice photographs of my plants. Or maybe my idea of 'next week' is different to yours, but here it is, finally...

I love the way the Kentia Palm instantly gives a room a tropical feel. These palms have a reputation of being the easiest indoor palm, tolerating low light and dry air. Oh, and see that chair? My husband has been trying to throw it out for years. It's become a 'hilarious' running joke. I bought it for £10 from a shop that was closing down and it has a strange textured coating on it, and one day I will get it dipped to remove said strange textured coating, and give it the makeover it deserves, and I will not let him sit on it for being so cruel. That will show him, won't it?

Botanical Name: Howea forsteriana
How much: £40
How tall: 120cms
Where from: Online from House of Plants
Care: Easy. I've just repotted mine and moved it to a shadier spot. I water it once a week and it looks healthy and has some new growth, so I think I'm doing something right.
Where: In a shady spot in the dining room.
Receptacle: An Ikea basket. Again.

My Bengal Fig is a bit Jack and The Beanstalkish. It has grown probably 40cms since I bought it back in November, and is not showing any sign of slowing. It's tall and thin, though some of the lower leaves are starting to get quite big now, which I hope will continue, so that it fattens up a little and doesn't get too top-heavy. I've recently re-potted it and it's now a really substantial plant.

Botanical Name: Ficus benghalensis
How much: £15
How big: 140cms
Where from: Online from House of Plants
Care: Easy! It doesn't need much water, so I only give it a little every week or so, and it can happily take a bit of shade. I do wonder if it's 'stretching' a bit, which would be a sign that's it's not getting enough light. Plant pros, feel free to weigh in...
Where: I've just moved it to my bedroom which is bright (south facing), but it's not near the window and I think it will be the perfect spot for it.
Receptacle: Another basket from H&M. Incidentally, I was in there the other day and they have a lovely new basket with a bright pink stripe that would be perfect for the plant I've just ordered online. Oh dear, help me I'm a plant addict!!

Back when I did my original plants you MUST have post, I got my ZZ's confused with my Zamia's (easily done with all those Z's). I must update that. Turns out they are different plants that look kind of similar - both beautiful, but mine is a ZZ plant, or Zanzibar Gem as they are also known. I'd still like a Zamia too, which I think has a bit of a Bonsai look about it (stumpier) with fuzzy leaves, unlike the ZZ which has very glossy waxy looking leaves.

Just don't let the lovely leaves of your ZZ hang over a lamp like I did and then wonder why they look singed. Oops.

Botanical Name: Zamioculcas Zamiifolia
How much: £25
How big: 80cms
Where from: Angel Flowers in Islington again, but these are pretty easy to find, and I've seen them at Colombia Road Flower Market for £15. You may even find one of these at Ikea if you're lucky.
Care: Very low maintenance - I water this maybe once a fortnight or even less. It's doing really well and it has several new shoots growing. I don't know if I should re-pot it because it seems so happy, but it's quite a tight fit in it's container.
Where: It lives in the living room in the darkest corner which it seems to love. They don't like full on sun.
Receptacle: I got the basket in Formentera last summer. I had to carry it home in my handbag so it didn't get squashed, and was quite prepared to wear it as a hat if push came to shove. Yes, I love it. Lots.

So that's it for now on the plant front. I really do recommend any of these as easy to keep alive and looking good, for people that would like to have indoor plants but worry about killing them. It's really not that hard if you consider the position and watering requirements. If I can do it, so can you. Honest!

The 'new' house plants every self-respecting interior obsessive must have!

I know the title is a tad dramatic, and yes, you've seen some of these loads already, BUT I do think that you will start seeing a few house plants popping up online, in the glossies, and yes, even in real life over the coming months, that you just might not have seen before. And I'm excited.

It's feeling decidedly Autumnal in the UK suddenly (Boo! I want more summer!), but let's not let that fact spoil our indoor plant fun. In fact, surely if we surround ourselves with plants that have a tropical feel, and pop the heating on, on the days when the sun graces us with a bit of shine, we can trick ourselves into believing it's still warm out there.  Maybe?

Yes? Let's give it a go then...

We already know that succulents are a 'thing', and that indoor plants have made a huge comeback over the last year or so, having been absent from the interiors hot list for quite some time, but what plants should you buy, once your little succulent collection is nearly complete? Or, god forbid, dead?
Image: Unknown via Pinterest
Ananas comosus chamaca / Ananas comosus variegatus - Dwarf Pineapple/Ivory Pineapple. I was stupidly excited (told you) when I saw these at Ikea the other week. I can't believe that I just didn't have the hands to buy a couple there and then. I'll definitely be making a trip back for some very soon. The Variegatus has a spiky/variegated leaf, the one pictured (Chamaca) doesn't.  They're both great. Instant sunshine in a pot, and a total no-brainer. Get one.

Image: Unknown via Pinterest
Zamioculcas zamifolia or Zamia furfuracea - That's a Zamia Plant to you and me, and also known as a Cardboard Plant, Jamaican Sago and ZZ Plant. It was complete and utter love at first sight for me when I recently saw one of these for the first time. Just beautiful.  I'll be tracking one of these sculptural beauties down pronto. Oops, just did - you can buy one here.

Image: Unknown via Pinterest

Cryptocereus anthonyanus (yes, really) - also known as a Ric Rac Cactus, Fishbone Cactus or Orchid Cactus. It's seemingly impossible to find a great image of one of these to show off it's beauty, so I'll post one once I've procured one, but trust me, these are stunning. I'm going to hang one in my kitchen, and pray it's warm enough for it as we venture into winter.

Image: Kindra Clineff (via

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora - This one is probably not new to you, but it's new to me. I've decided I need to stop being lazy and calling all succulents, 'succulents', and learn their names (even if I can't pronounce them). We need to know our Aloes and Agaves from our Echeverias and Crassulaceaes, which is the family that this lovely looking specimen falls in to. Commonly known as a Paddle Plant for obvious reasons, and it's totally on my list.

Fiddle Leaf Fig, and if you squint you can see a Zamia peeping out from behind it.
Image: Bianca Hall
And last, but most definitely not least, this one is probably not new to you - we all know and lust after the Fiddle Leaf Fig (or Ficus lyrata if you want to get technical). I actually gasped out loud at the beauty of the one above when I stumbled upon it, having never seen one in the flesh before. How does a plant or tree reach A-list celebrity status? By being incredibly beautiful and photogenic for a start. If ever there was an A-list plant, this is it. Why haven't I got one yet? Because they're not cheap, and I'm terrified of buying one and killing it. This won't stop me from ever getting one, it's Christmas soon after all. Kimberly over at Swoon Worthy discovered an online UK Fiddle Leaf Fig supplier and was kind enough to share back in March. She tells me that hers is doing really well, which fills me with hope for my future as the proud owner of one. Soon, very soon.