Milan Design Week

The Greatest Show on Earth

February 2020
4 minute read
Salone del Mobile poster 2016

Of all the interiors shows, my no.1 is Milan Design Week.

No other comes close.

For 6 days each April, 300,000 people from 160 countries converge on Milan for the biggest and best interior design event in the world.

It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.

What is Milan Design Week?

It's the fashion week of the interiors world.

Think New York, Paris, London and Milan all rolled into one.
This giant show has two halves.

Salone - pronounced sal-own-ay
(or official name - Salone del Mobile.Milano)

This is the main event.
Over 2000 exhibitors show furniture, kitchens, bathrooms and lighting all under one roof.
A vast exhibition space, that takes you by surprise.
Red carpet as far as the eye can see.

Fuorisalone

This is made up of 100’s of smaller events scattered across Milan.
Locations are utterly random from converted water towers to tiny ateliers, presenting everything from art installations to handmade ceramics.
The adventure is, you never know what you’ll find.

Entrance to Salone del Mobile
Salone Entrance
photo Alessandro Russotti - courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano

Why You Should Go

To open your eyes to a world you never knew existed.

Even if you live in a design capital, you only ever see a fraction of what's on offer.

Flagship stores have space for just a small selection - the best sellers.
The things that everyone’s buying.
And who wants those?!

Even the biggest department stores have a tiny edit of what’s available.

The only way to see all the stunning furniture, lighting, kitchens and bathrooms, is at Salone.

Here you step into a world that few know exist.
Every interiors brand and everything they create.

Each brand builds an immersive fantasy land.
The installations resemble film sets. Interconnected rooms showing their entire range. It’s like walking through the pages of a perfectly styled magazine. But better.
You can touch, sit on, open, photograph and play with everything.

All the new products are launched at Salone.
So to be ahead of the pack, this is where to come.

Minotti at Salone del Mobile
Minotti
photo Saverio Lombardi Vallauri - courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano

Salone - the main show

I always head here first.

There’s 24 themed halls that branch off a central concourse.
Don’t imagine you’ll see everything. It’s impossible.
I spend 3 days here and only see 60%.

Here’s how it works.

The furniture is shown every year.
Lighting alternates with kitchens and bathrooms each year. Otherwise they’d never fit it all in.

As you enter a hall, it's laid out like a city grid system, with avenues and blocks as far as the eye can see.

Mega brands occupy two or more blocks and are often two stories high.
Teeny brands share space and squeeze in close.

De Padova at Salone del Mobile
De Padova
photo Saverio Lombardi Vallauri - courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano

In their block, brands have artistic freedom.

I’ve seen De Padova create lagoons of inky water, traversed by bridges and surrounded by banana trees; and Molteni stage their stand in a bleached desert landscape of giant thorny cacti.
Think Tom Ford film. Creativity carried out with sophistication, intelligence and beauty.

My top picks for you at Salone are De Padova, Boffi, Maruni, Poliform, Molteni, Frederica and Nikari.

Molteni&C at Salone del Mobile
Molteni&C
photo Saverio Lombardi Vallauri - courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano

Satellite's an area I love.
Devoted to emerging young designers, they’re given a small amount of space to wow you with their creativity. This is more urban, raw and experimental than the rest of the show.

Exhibits range from entertaining to truly innovative. Definitely worth a look.

Satellite pink neon sign
Satellite
photo Ludovica Mangini - courtesy Salone del Mobile.Milano

Fuorisalone - across Milan

These 100’s of smaller events throughout the city are grouped into 7 design districts.
Each district has a theme. From sustainable and innovative to artsy and bohemian.

Everything related to Fuorisalone is identified by a green flag.
As you explore Milan, you discover them round every corner.

The diversity of things on show is staggering. From giant art installations, to micro-studios crafting handmade ceramics.
And they’re not just interiors. Everyones 'in on the show' - artists, fashion houses and car brands.
It’s what makes the whole week such a rollercoaster of inspiration.

Arper at Salone del Mobile
Arper

Off-piste

When you’re green flagged out and simply can’t do anymore, it’s time to go off-piste.

Ceresio 7 restaurant atop the Dsquared2 building is in my little black book.
With two rooftop swimming pools and views across Milan, there’s a decadent air of 1950’s Hollywood.

Ceresio 7 restaurant balcony in Milan
Ceresio 7

And hidden in the centre of Milan is this little gem.

Guaranteed no crowds (because you have to book a private viewing) Villa Necchi is an Art Deco masterpiece.
Down a narrow driveway and set in private gardens with an outdoor pool. This was the film set for 'I am Love' starring Tilda Swinton.

Villa necchi campiglio in Milan
Villa Necchi Campiglio, Milan
Photo Giorgio Majno, 2008 © Archive FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano

Even if you're familiar with Milan, the Salone’s worth a special trip.

It’ll open your eyes to a world of things you never knew existed.

It will blow you away.
You’ll have seen the best of the best.
An experience like no other.

Stay ahead of the pack!

Dan
Fitness Nut, Bookworm and Minimalist

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