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May 22, 2024

Heads up, graphic designers: Things are going BIG in Milano

Have you been intrigued by the green arrows scattered around Milan these past few weeks?

In the city where everything revolves around fashion and design, we are about to experience the first-ever Biennale Internazionale Grafica (BIG), a fair dedicated entirely to the world of graphic and visual design.

Starting tomorrow, from May 23 to 26, BIG 2024, curated by Francesco Dondina and organised and produced by the collaborative efforts of Dondina Associati, Franco Achilli, and Federico Calandra, is set to unfold. This graphic design festival is dedicated to promoting and celebrating communication design and visual cultures.

Originating from the experience of the Milan Graphic Festival 2022, the Biennale Internazionale Grafica is designed to make visual design and all its cross-sectional topics accessible to everyone, not just experts. In its inaugural year, BIG will not be limited by a single theme. Instead, the festival will be an opportunity for all types of discussion and debates, as they’ve stated in their website, “from urban regeneration to the environment, from gender identity to education, with a special focus on the city, youth, and sustainability.”

The Biennale Internazionale Grafica’s main events will take place in the Milano Certosa District, at Via Giovanni da Udine 45. The event will also encompass the whole of Milan, with notable locations to visit including the ADI Design Museum in Piazza Compasso d’Oro 1 and DROPCITY at Via Giovanni Battista Sammartini 38. 

With so many talks, events, and workshops to attend, here are our top picks for every type of design enthusiast out there!


Let’s Dive In: Calling All Music Lovers

“A Visual Sound. A journey through sound libraries LP cover design”
May 23 - 26 | 10:30 am - 8:30 pm
Milano Certosa District

Visual Design and music have always been closely connected. Just think of iconic album covers such as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Radiohead’s OK Computer. There is an entire field of design dedicated to music, and this exhibition, taking place in Milano Certosa Design District, aims to explore its underbelly.

Library music albums are relatively unknown to the public. They consist of theme music produced for TV and radio that were meant to provide background music for various purposes. Since these records were not available to the public, their artwork remains largely unappreciated. The lack of set images for these album covers allowed designers to have complete freedom in their composition.

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As part of BIG 2024, this exhibition will showcase a journey through the best and most representative library music covers from Luca Barcellona’s incredible collection, and will take place from May 23 to 26.

There will also be a talk featuring the collection’s owner on May 24 at 5:30 pm, followed by a DJ set playing the best recordings from the collection.

To learn more, take a look here.


Typography Fanatics, Your Playground Awaits

“Type trends report 2024”
May 25 | 5:30 pm
Milano Certosa District

The world would be very different if it was designed with ugly, nonsensical typography. In this specially curated talk at the Biennale Internazionale Grafica, Sina Otto from Monotype will celebrate the universal appeal of typography, making it a must-attend event for all type lovers. The lecture will go over projects featured in the Type Trends report from agencies, designers, and foundries from around the world.

To learn more:


“Fontstand conference”
May 26 | 3:00 pm
Milano Certosa District

How do type designer’s choices influence reading? How can unconventional typography become a teaching method for designers approaching the world of type design for the first time? How can you use a single font in a brand identity and not make it feel boring?

These questions, and many more about typography, will be answered at a conference on May 26, starting at 3:00 PM, as part of the BIG 2024 programme. Five speakers from renowned Italian type foundries will share the stage and talk about all aspects of typography.

Learn more about the individual talks:


Welcome Politics Enthusiasts

“Starting from context and non-knowledge, a design attitude”
May 23 May | 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
NABA, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti

Design should not be blindly supporting consumer society. Especially in these times of crisis, war, and ecological uncertainty, design should look to questioning the current attitudes and methods linked to it, right? This is the theme of the lecture by designer Ruedi Baur, which will be moderated by Vincenzo Estremo. If you’re into the political power of graphic design, you can’t miss this talk at the first-ever Biennale Internazionale Grafica.

To learn more:


“Fight for Kindness”
May 23 - 26 | 10:30 am - 8:30 pm
Milano Certosa District

Fight for Kindness is a global initiative that invites designers to promote kindness-related values through typographic messages. This year, the project is in its third edition and has a collection of over 300 posters that have been designed by well-known names in the design community, as well as emerging talents, educators, and creators worldwide. The exhibition at BIG 2024 looks to celebrate typography as a transformative tool for a better world.

Learn more:


“Alive and political - words of data visualization”
May 25 | 6:30 pm
Milano Certosa District

How are visual languages used to shape information and stories? How can visual words used in data visualisation come alive in politics? At the Biennale Internazionale Grafica 2024, Federica Fragapane will host a talk exploring the design process and the reasons behind data visualisation projects. She will also delve into how these projects impact us.

Learn more about the lecture:

With its rich array of talks, exhibitions, and workshops, BIG 2024 promises to ignite conversations, inspire creativity, and celebrate the diverse field of visual communication. Whether you’re drawn to the intersection of music and design, passionate about typography, or intrigued by the political dimensions of design, the Biennale Internazionale Grafica has something for you. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to discover the world of visual design.



Constanza Coscia
Editor and alumna, Milan