milan Milan is located in the central-western part of the Lombardy region and is the largest metropolitan area in Italy.  3.7 million inhabitants live and work within an area of less then 2,000 square kilometres. This represents 6.5% of the Italian and 41.6% of the Lombardian population. Most of the population is concentrated in the city of Milan (1,300,977 inhabitants) and the surrounding towns. Milan produces 10% of the national GDP and 14% of the national exports. There are about 323,000 enterprises, mainly SMEs, in the region. 69% of them are active in the services sector, 29% in the industrial sector, and 2% in agriculture. 25% of the work force is self-employed.


The unemployment rate is around 4.6% (compared to the national average of 9.5%). Milan hosts headquarters of large companies, banks and insurance firms as well as the main Italian stock exchange. The Milan metropolitan area is the most important economic area in Italy, hosting 8% of all Italian businesses. Regarding to the hard factors, Milan metropolitan area provided with an integrated transport system consisting of a rail network of 1,600 km, a 40,000 km road and highway network, and one of Europe’s most important airport systems. Malpensa airport is the 8th most important hub in Europe with 360 thousand passengers per year .

Malpensa Airport









Malpensa Airport


The province of Milan has the highest concentration of telecommunication industries in Italy and it is the national leader for mechanical, metallurgical and electromechanical industry, ICT, as well as textile/clothing and leather, fashion/design and wood/furniture. In Italy Milan seems to be the privileged site for innovation activities, with a high degree of research and with a specialised workforce. Indeed, at least half of the regional high technology industry is located there. More than 60% of the mature technology firms are placed in Milan. As far as the traditional or manufacture industry, it tends to move outside the city of Milan, in the Metropolitan area, or even much further. In the city of Milan, finally, the advanced service activities of region, such as the management functions, tend to be placed within the city, thus increasing the service sectors. As far as the cultural industry is concerned, in Milan there are several excellences in the industrial and graphic design, in fashion and also (but less) in the artistic production .


Emporio Armani, Milan The role play by fashion in promoting the imagine of Milan as a creative hub should not underestimated. Milan as well as Paris, London and New York are recognised as a fashion capitals and it have given birth to global brands such as Prada and Armani (which had in 2005 respectively a revenues of 2,750 million Euro and 1,428 million Euro).  

Emporio Armani, Milan

Overall, the fashion supply chain represents more than 60,000 workers in the Province of Milan. Milan’s fashion styling and design activities alone produce more than half of the national total turnover (535 million Euros out of the 1 billion Euros)

During  the post-war period, Milan homed  some of the most inspired architects and designers of the world . Milan hosts  the first design faculty  in Italy (The Politecnico di Milano)  and other important institutions as the IED (European Institute of Design) and the Domus Academy.

ilan has gained a major role in the production of designed goods since the last 1930s, when the Triennale (an important cultural institution devoted especially to design and industrial design) was set up and it opened for the first time in 1931: it was crucial for the development of the design industry in Milan and it has been, thus, the venue for Italian design to be internationally known, and a way, for the city of Milan, to integrate design and art within urban life.


Design week 2006 Milan-

During the post-war period, Milan homed  some of the most inspired architects and designers of the world . Milan hosts  the first design faculty  in Italy (The Politecnico di Milano)  and other important institutions as the IED (European Institute of Design) and the Domus Academy.


Design week 2006 Milan-


The Milan metropolitan area is also a very important scientific and technological research district. At the European level, Milan ranks the second place among all main cities in terms of number of organisations promoting innovation and industry-research relations. There are seven universities with a total of 180.000 students, more than 130 research and university institutes in the scientific and engineering sectors, 44 public research centres (Centro Nazionale delle Ricerche and other public bodies), and another 80 private research facilities.

Notwithstanding the rise of a high developed economy, the city of Milan presents several weaknesses in the socio-economic sphere. Just to quote the most serious problems afflicting the city, the house issue is a very critical one: since also a portion of the middle class is now unable to afford rents, the stock of available social houses is getting inadeguate; migration is changing the social morphology of the city, without integration policies capable to cope with such transformations; more generally, there is a tendency for the urban society to fragment into two layers, one of them represented by a top group of high-wage professionals, the other one composed of unskilled-low-wage workers. The tiers in between tend to be smaller and smaller. Although this is a common tendency in the contemporary urban societies, the city (both its government and its civil society) seems unable to recognise the problem and to promote actions in order to deal with it: the wealthy of the city circulates in the same spheres that produced it, without a real share with the rest of the city.