Welcome to Wanderlust, a weekly series on Co.Design where some of our favorite designers share their secret picks and insider tips for the best design cities on the planet. Today, architect Daniel Libeskind takes us on a near-local’s tour of Milan.
What’s your favorite design city?
Milan, because Milan is fantastic and full of design, ranging from fashion design to furniture design to even small objects. It’s a great city. I even have a small office in Milan, where we produce everything from a door to a door handle to a chandelier.
Where do you like to stay when you’re there?
Luckily for me, we have actually an apartment which is right in the center of Milan.
Before you had the apartment, were there any great hotels you stayed in?
The best hotel is the Bulgari Hotel. I love that hotel. Because it has its own garden. It’s very discreet–it’s right in the center, but once you get in the hotel, you have this secret garden. It’s a really, really nice place to stay.
Where do you eat?
I often eat lunch in Peck, a huge food emporium. Peck has the most incredible shop that is kind of like a medieval renaissance shop. Everything is hand-selected for this shop, whether it’s a piece of meat or a vegetable. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The best thing to do in Milan is to buy something there and take it home. Peck is almost like a museum of food.
My favorite food there is mostardo. It’s these fruits like maraschino cherries or apples, but with a spiciness–that is from the mustard seed, I guess. It’s the most incredible thing you can just have a little bit on a piece of bread and you can eat like a king. I highly recommend mostardo. It’s very hard to get it in New York.
There’s a restaurant called Risacca–like Rissacca No. 1, Risacca No. 2. They’re all seafood restaurants, and each Milanese has their favorite Risacca, No. 5 or No 3. They’re large-scale restaurants that serve seafood. I think what most people don’t know is the only competition to Japanese sashimi is in Milan. Milan serves this raw fish with a little bit of vinaigrette or a little bit of olive oil. It’s just like Japanese [sashimi] but with an Italian twist to it. I think Milanese consume probably more raw seafood than the Japanese.
What design destinations do you visit?
The secret destination for design is to go to Brianza. It’s a suburb. Actually all the suburbs around Milan are factories that produce incredible things for design. All the companies that produce design have their headquarters there in little factories that are almost universally family owned. They have been there for hundreds of years. You can see craftsmen doing some incredible detail.
The best designed object by far in Milan is the Duomo. It’s this incredible cathedral. What most people don’t know is you can climb up to the roof, and there’s a terrace on top of the cathedral where you can just get beautiful views of Milan. It’s probably the most beautiful building in the world. It has thousands of sculptures and each sculpture is a unique figure. It’s like a forest of angels. It’s a fantastic place to meet people to see beautiful works of art.
What’s your best tip for design tourists?
Go across the street to the restaurant on top of Rinascente–it’s a big department store. If you go to the top of the department store, there’s a open restaurant with a deck, and you can see the sculptures which you can not see from the ground, because you’re higher up looking at the Duomo.
Plus, you’ve got my favorite place, the Ambrosiana. It has all the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. You go to the library and you can ask to see a drawing. I think most of these drawings have never been published–the most incredible drawings of machines, of angels, of human figures. They also have a fantastic collection of paintings and books. If you go down to the basement, to the lowest level, you stand at the intersection of the Cardo and the Decumano, the two intersecting lines which form the exact center of the Roman city of Milan.