Upwards of a quarter of a million people are set to arrive in Milan over the next few weeks for the 53rd annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the city’s renowned design and furniture fair. Running from April 8 to 13, the Salone will coincide with dozens of independent exhibitions all over the city, once again catapulting Milan to the forefront of the design world.
This year’s Salone del Mobile is especially under the spotlight with Italians seeing it as a dress rehearsal for Expo 2015, to be held in Milan from May next year.
“The strength of the Salone is the Italian manufacturing and retail network behind it,” says Claudio Luti, president of the fair’s organiser, Cosmit. “This cultural inheritance is unique, makes us the envy of the world and has endured despite a deep economy crisis at home.”
That endurance is no small achievement. According to Cosmit, sales by furniture groups within Italy have fallen 40 per cent since 2008. By contrast, exports rose 2.5 per cent in 2013 to €10.8bn.
In an effort to draw visitors to the Salone, the city is opening its museums free of charge that week for the first time.
In another first for the furniture fair, an app will be available to download a few days before the event allowing visitors to browse exhibitors’ catalogues.
Here is the FT’s rundown of what visitors can expect from the Salone this year and the countless satellite events taking place.
Salone Internazionale del Mobile
One of the main attractions this year is an installation called “Where Architects Live”. Eight leading international architects, including Zaha Hadid, Mario Bellini and Daniel Libeskind will create their own room installations, exploring how we define domestic space today. Another highlight promises to be the Milan debut of Ercol, the renowned British furniture maker.
Milan Fairgrounds, Rho Pavilions: 1-20, cosmit.it
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A platform for the rising stars of design, SaloneSatellite will display the work of about 650 young designers from around the world, including Jason Mizrahi (US), Avni Sejpal (India) and Cesare Bizzotto (Italy). Milan Fairgrounds, Rho Pavilions: 13 and 15, cosmit.it
The EuroCucina kitchen furniture exhibition will showcase the latest in kitchen equipment, utensils and table accessories and will feature new designs by Alno, Cesar, Dada, Schiffini and Valcucine. Milan Fairgrounds, Rho Pavilions: 9-11 and 13-15 cosmit.it
Cinque Vie (“Five Streets”) is an ambitious new project that will involve 30 shows, installations, events and street performances taking place in Milan’s historic quarter near the Duomo. Participants include tableware designer Seletti, artist Maurizio Cattelan, Dutch designer Maarten Baas and Gnambox, which will serve coffee and food from “the Gnambox kitchen”.
International Bathroom Furniture Exhibition
Subtitled “Temples for Mind and Body”, this exhibition will feature new bathroom designs from Sicis, the company known for its mosaics, Graff and Kartell by Laufen.
Milan Fairgrounds, Rho Pavilions: 22-24, cosmit.it
EDIT by designjunction
Held in the middle of Milan’s fashion district, EDIT by designjunction will present new work from more than 20 international brands. Paris-based Adentro will launch an armchair by Carlo Contin, and Baroncelli will release 12 new lighting products from its Flexus collection.
Palazzo Morando, 6 Via Sant’Andrea thedesignjunction.co.uk/milan
Danish textile makers Kvadrat will be hosting a special exhibition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of their most successful fabrics, Divina. Designed by Finn Sködt in 1984 (he is now 70) the felt-like fabric known for its smoothness and extraordinary colour range is being used by 24 international designers in new one-off works. Austrian designer Robert Stadler has made an eye-catching set of shelves that looks as though a crumpled Divina sheet has been flung at the wall.
43 Via San Gregorio, kvadrat.dk
Triennale di Milano
In the past few years, Milan’s design museum, La Triennale, has established itself as one of the hottest venues in the city. Among this year’s exhibitors will be eyewear company Safilo, celebrating its 80th anniversary by launching a new range by Marc Newson, and a new exhibition titled “The Identity of Milan” by renowned Italian designer and architect Michele de Lucchi.
6 Viale Alemagna, triennale.it
Paris boutique Merci will open a pop-up shop in Milanese designer Paola Navone’s new studio. The shop will display new works created by Navone for Italian brand Essent’ial. Australian cosmetics company Aesop will also have an installation at the shop.
Via Tortona, 31, 8-13 April (10am – 7pm)
Wallpaper* Handmade is back for a fifth consecutive year with an exhibition of commissioned furniture. Highlights include a men’s valet made in wood, bronze, brass and crocodile skin created by interior designer Fiona Barratt-Campbell in collaboration with Alexander McQueen.
L’eclettico Gallery39 Via San Gregorio wallpaper.com