If you only do one this month… get to Milan. Not only is it the 21st International Exhibition of the Triennale di Milano, it’s also the Milan Design Fair. As usual it offers five days of the very best design, furniture and interiors in the world, surrounding the Salon Mobile Internazionale and its satellite events. Add MIART just days before, and Milan retains its creative dominance over springtime fairs in Europe. Look out too for Art Cologne’s 50th anniversary celebrations, EVA International – Ireland’s art biennal, Stockholm Art Week and a superb retrospective of Eero Arnio’s work at the Helsinki Design Museum. Full details for all events below.

Architecture and building

In spring homeowners’ thoughts often turned to the living conditions, and there’s a rash of building and interiors shows this month. Energymed in Naples (1-2 April) is a big trade fair for renewable energy, energy efficiency and environmental technologies. Estbuild 2016 in Talinn, Estonia focuses on innovative technologies, building constructions, materials, machinery and tools (6-9 April). Baumesse Darmstadt in Germany (1-3 April) covers building, and energy efficient buildings.  It’s a popular date: Haus Holz Energie in Stuttgart (1-3 April) presents new products based around home and energy efficiency to a consumer market. Klimahouse Toscana in Tuscany, Italy (1-3 April) is another energy trade fair.

MosBuild is Russia’s largest annual interiors and building expo, held in Moscow (5-8 April). 12 specialised exhibition spaces range from building materials, decides and roofs, and gates to bathrooms, lighting, wallpaper, and finishings.

The Home Building and Renovating Show in Birmingham, UK (14-17 April) is the largest event of its kind in the UK, featuring nearly 500 exhibitors as well as offering face-to-face advice and masterclasses on all aspects of building your own home.  Bio & Co in Besancon, France (8-10 April), is a big sustainable construction, healthy habitat and life expo.  Hungary’s biggest construction event, Construma, in Budapest (6-10 April) also incorporates the events HOMEDesign (interiors), Hungarotherm (heating engineering) and Reneo (renewables). In Brno, Czech Republic (20-23 April) there is another trio of house-related fairs: DSB (wooden house building) IBF (all other types of building) and Mobitex (furniture and interior design).

Domexpo Complex Building Exhibition in Slovakia (24-27 April) has a big focus on wooden houses and passive constructions. Look out for a garden show at the same time. Ambient Expo in Bucharest (26-29 March) an international interior and exterior decoration fair takes alongside Construct Expo and the previously mentioned Antique Market.

Last but not least, two specialist fairs: VVS 16 (26-28 April) in Odense is Denmark’s biggest plumbing trade fair. The Europe-trotting Architect@work lands in Luxembourg bringing together interior designers, architects and innovative products (23-24 April).

Arts and antiques

There’s a good and interesting range of art events this month. EVA International – Ireland’s art biennal kicks off on 16 April, offering 12-week programme of exhibitions and events that engage with the people and city of Limerick, Ireland. This year’s edition is curated by Koyo Kouoh and reflects on post colonial art in honour of the centenary of the 1916 uprising

Almoneda in Madrid (2-10 April) is a big biannual fair with a range of antiques from ancient to 1950s, and featuring furniture, art, sculpture, objets d’art, collectibles and more. MIART 2015 (10-12 April) is a modern and contemporary art expo with emerging and established galleries and a strong design section. Art3f hops around France and this month (1-3 April) hosts contemporary galleries, painters, sculptors, photographers and performers in Lyon.

Art Cologne (14-17 April) in Germany is the world’s oldest art fair for modern and contemporary art. 200 international galleries showcase painting, sculpture, photography, prints, multiples, installations, performance and moving image art. It is in its 50th year, and is looking back over half a century of the art market with events, film and a special exhibition.

Market (22-24 April) represents the leading galleries from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland and is acknowledged as the annual forum for the ever-growing Nordic contemporary art scene. Its sister fair Supermarket 2016 is an international artist run fair providing a showcase for artist’s initiatives from all over the world. Both take place during Stockholm Art Week, an event which showcases the Swedish art scene with events and exhibitions in many of Stockholm’s museums, institutions and art spaces.

Art Brussels (22-24 April) shows off the very active contemporary art scene in Belgium and the Netherlands. On 22 April, most of the galleries within the city open for special art night in conjunction with the fair. Last but not least, Milan Image Art (MIA) Fair (28 April-2 May) celebrates photography and moving image.

The specialist fair Ceramic Art London (8-10 April) is the place to discover and buy contemporary ceramics, offering collectors, gallery owners, potters and the general public the opportunity to meet 80 leading national and international ceramic artists.

A number of antiques fairs whet the appetite: Antiques for Everyone Spring Fair in Birmingham UK (7-10 April) is the UK’s largest antiques, interiors and collectables fair, held three times a year. Look out too for the Harrowgate Antique and Fine Art Fair (14-17 April). Antiquara Padova in Italy (9-17 April) has a range of eras, this year with an extended jewellery section.

Kunst & Antiquitäten München (29 April-2 May) is Bavaria’s biggest antiques fair, founded in 1968 and offering a wide range of antiques, Bavarian folk art, Gothic and Baroque works among others.

The ever-popular triannual Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair in London (19-24 April) returns with its usual mix of high end and quirky antiques, collector’s items, art and accessories.

Interiors and design

And so to Milan. The 21st International Exhibition of the Triennale di Milano, entitled 21st-Century: Design after Design takes place this year. From 2 April-12 September a series of events, exhibitions, meetings, conferences, performances and so on will debate and extrapolate upon the trio’s theme, looking at how design is changed this century, and the juxtaposition of creativity in the west and production in the East. The triennale is totally multidisciplinary, involving design and architecture, art and technology, anthropology and entertainment making it possible to portray new forms of expression and allowing participants to interact with visitors.

Milan Design Week (12-17 April), the interior and design event to beat all others, which sees some 350,000 people visit for the five days. Centred around the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, anyone worth his or her creative salt will be in Milan eyeing up the opposition, seeing the latest trends or showcasing their newest products. Be sure to visit the new xLux section in Hall 3 which reacts to the new decorative style found in the luxury market that sits between classic and designer furniture. The biennial euroCucina and FTK (technology for the kitchen) expo returns this year along with a slew of related events under the FuoriSalone umbrella: Salone del Complemento d’Arredo, International Bathroom Exhibition and SaloneSatellite (for young designers). SaloneSatellite’s theme this year is “New Materials, New Design” and the Expo will become a repository of innovative samples from the most advanced materials research centres in Europe. Another new show, Space&Interiors, is dedicated to excellence in architectural finishes and offers seminars with various top Italian architects.

Ventura Lambrate 2016 is in effect a mini design week for the district of Lambrate featuring exhibitions of internationally acclaimed creatives, design academies and conceptual design experiments.

Salone del Mobile’s exhibition is Before Design: Classic, a reflection on the sole of contemporary living and featuring a short film by the award-winning Matteo Garrone. Look out too, for Rooms: Novel Living Concepts, curated by Beppe Finessi, at the Triennale. The exhibition underscores the particular remit of interior architecture and provides a vision of home living projected towards the future.

Things are (amazingly) happening elsewhere: Blickfang in Munich (8-10 April) and in Basel (29 April-1 May) offer showcases of independently produced furniture, fashion and jewellery from young international designers. Blickfang also pops up in Zurich, Vienna, Copenhagen and Hamburg. Other consumer interior shows include Ideal Homex Istanbul (1-3 April) and Ideal Home Show in Dublin, Ireland (15-17 April), both featuring furniture, homewares, accessories, lighting, decorative items and more. Bauen und Wohnen, Aargau, Switzerland (21-24 April) also includes a garden element.

Top garden only shows include the trade show Journées des Collections Jardin in Marseilles France (5-7 April) and Garden Show in Oslo, Norway (15-17 April). And the important specialist furnishing and curtains fair, Proposte 2015, held in Como Italy, showcases the top textile manufacturers, and as always is trade and invitation only (27-29 April).

Exhibitions

If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the extraordinary exhibition of Hieronymus Bosch in his hometown of s’-Hertogenbosch at the Het Noordbrabants Museum, now’s your chance. Because of the demand for tickets, the exhibition has been extended to 8 May. Here you’ll find many of the Dutch master’s 45 surviving, extraordinary, surreal mediaeval paintings collected together for the very first time. Sadly the Garden of Earthly Delights was considered too fragile to travel, but the Prado has sent The Hay Wain, which is leaving Madrid for the first time in 450 years. visit www.Bosch500.nl for a full programme of events celebrating the artist known as “the Devils Painter”.

We’re huge fans of the Nordic style and Eero Aarnio’s work in particular, so a major retrospective of Aarnio’s work at the Helsinki Design Museum in Finland is at the top of our list (8 April – 25 September). Featuring the 83-year-old designer’s work in furniture, lamps, small objects and unique one-off pieces from the 1950s to the present, it will also show rarely seen original drawings and sketches demonstrating the designer’s work.

The Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK is presenting a major retrospective of the fluorescent light works of the important post-war American artist Dan Flavin (13 April – 26 June). It Is What It Is and It Ain’t Nothing Else exemplifies Flavin’s emphasis on the importance of context in artistic experience, capitalising on the variety of interiors in Ikon Gallery. The works on show are certainly comprehensive, dating back to the beginning of his practice of using fluorescent lights, in 1964.

The annual Prague Photo Festival (19-24 April) takes place in Kafka’s house in the city and features individual photographers, galleries and companies presenting almost 180 different artists both current and classic. Look out for a large section on young photographers, plus curated projects around the city including screenings and workshops where visitors can get acquainted with 19th-century photographic techniques.