There are standing dinners, sitting dinners and dinners in designers’ homes. There are virtual-reality experiences and every conceivable gallery and studio cocktail event. The bandwagon that is Milan’s Salone del Mobile furniture fair starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday. Judging by the number of emails that have landed in our editors’ inboxes – and the hundreds of thousands of visitors, designers and journalists expected to descend on the city – this year’s fair will be bigger and better than ever.
Navigating Milan during the week of Salone can be overwhelming, even for those who live here. Beyond the ticketed trade-fair element (or “Fiera”) northwest of the city, there are myriad other events (known collectively as “Fuorisalone”) across the city. Top names in Italian design (from Flexform to Poltrona Frau and Dedar), international big hitters and smaller brands seeking to make an impression will host events, product launches, experiences and talks. (Monocle Radio has a pop-up at House of Switzerland in Casa degli Artisti and talks with V-Zug.) And it’s not strictly about industrial design: companies such as Google and fragrance brand Byredo are part of the proceedings this year.
Milan is undergoing enormous changes and its property boom has nudged two of this year’s most interesting events to places that are awaiting redevelopment. The first is the Alcova space, staged annually in disused buildings, which focuses on independent and emerging designers. Last year’s Alcova (pictured) was in a military hospital; this time it’s in Porta Vittoria’s former macello (abattoir).
The second is the design and architecture space Drop City, which will open properly next year. In a series of vaulted warehouses near Milano Centrale train station, it will host two lectures a day throughout the week, with the aim of pairing international designers with new Italian talent. Whether you’re planning your itinerary or keen to get the best from afar, pick up a copy of our dedicated Salone del Mobile Special newspaper, which is out now, for a full rundown. The only thing that I’m worried about is my waistline after all those dinners.