Back in 1961, Italian furniture makers decided to hold their own trade show in Milan. Humble beginnings… the first event had 328 exhibitors and 12,000 visitors. Yet those early years were responsible in no small part for spreading the reputation of “Italian furniture” worldwide.
Since then, the Salone del Mobile has grown to the point that the numbers today are simply staggering. More than 3,000 furniture makers from around the world come to what has become THE industry’s yearly showcase. Lasting a full week, taking up 3,000,000 square feet of exhibition space, and drawing over 300,000 visitors, the Salone is not only a showcase but also the primary marketplace for a 25 billion euro per year industry. This trade fair now hosts other sectors too that share in its spotlight, such light fixtures, kitchens, appliances, textiles and other materials for aesthetic and structural uses, household concepts and prototypes, as well as studies of new technology and production methods.
And as if the official Salone doesn’t seem enormous enough, the real draw for so many to Milan this week is what’s known as the Fuori Salone (lit. Outside the Salone; think Off Broadway but for design) which runs for six days and includes over 1100 events, performances, and exhibits of the best ideas from the many types of design, including industrial-, product-, graphic-, automotive-, and applied art-design.
These events, which often stay open late into the night (the boundary between exhibit and party often blurs), take place throughout the various neighborhoods of the city in dedicated spaces such as theaters and ex-factories, in architectural studios and artists lofts, producer showrooms and workshops, courtyards of Renaissance palazzi and atriums of public buildings and spaces alike. The Fuori Salone has become so big in its own right that it has its own apps and sponsors, and has turned a week that was initially just about furniture into what is now generally referred to as la settimana del Design di Milano (Milan Design Week).
Not to be missed!
(Images courtesy of Pava, CC BY-SA 3.0 it)
(Here’s a great video, in Italian, which gives a good idea of the breadth and creativity of the Fouri Salone. Link here in case video does not display below.)