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What not to miss at the Salone del Mobile 2016 in Milan

The Salone del Mobile is one of the most important design and furniture fairs in the world. Even more exciting than the show itself, though, are the many small satellite fairs and exhibitions that will pop up on the backstreets of Milan this week…

The Salon del Mobile is the perfect excuse for a trip to Milan. Italy’s creative capital is not only where the major furniture brands reveal their latest collections, but also where countless designers, retailers and journalists from around the world gather to celebrate all things design. Satellite fairs such as Furiosalone take the design show into the city, and you’ll find small showrooms, studios and exhibitions in almost every backyard, presenting the avant-garde’s newest designs. 

Salone del Mobile

Arper, Cassina, B & B Italia, Flos, Minotti, Molteni&C, Poliform, Thonet, USB, Vitra – there are no big brands from the world of interior design absent from the Salone del Mobile. With more than 2,000 exhibitors presenting their wares to some 300,000 trade visitors from over 160 countries, the fair is not a place to wander around aimlessly. Anyone looking to ‘do’ the Salone del Mobile in one day should take time to plan their agenda, not to mention wear comfortable shoes. 

Design Districts

Milan will turn into an open-air design festival this week, and each of the city’s districts will play host to its own dedicated events. The Tortona Design Week, for example, will take place in the former working-class neighbourhood southwest of the city. If you’d like to visit all the pop-up events, exhibitions, cocktail parties, studio openings, VIP presentations and design lectures, food and sleep might have to wait. You’ll also find things to see in other districts, such as the ‘5 Vie’ (five streets in the heart of the city), the Brera Design District and in San Gregorio Docet. Our advice would be to limit yourself to two design districts per day, which will give you enough time to sip an espresso and watch the world go by. 

Cars meet design

Many car manufacturers also use the Salone del Mobile to present themselves in a creative environment. Mini, for example, will demonstrate its creative use of space with an urban-residential-sharing concept, named ‘Do Disturb’. Land Rover has teamed up with the designer Odo Fioravanti for a joint project called ‘Freeride’, taking inspiration from the new Range Rover Evoque Convertible. In Audi’s City Lab on 15 April, a talk about lighting design (and the new Audi Q2) with Daniel Libeskind and Ingo Maurer will take place. In the Superstudio Più on Via Tortona, meanwhile, Jaguar will present its collaboration with the Turin design school IED, centred on its new F-Pace SUV

Triennale di Milano

After a 20-year break, the Triennale di Milano returns to the city. Highlights of the international art and design exhibition will include the architecture exhibition ‘Rooms’ at the Palazzo della Triennale, the ‘Architecture as Art’ exhibition in the Pirelli HangarBicocca, and the design retrospective ‘La bellezza quotidiana’ – the latter is dedicated to Italy’s greatest design masters. Anyone interested in the future of the automobile and the evolution of mobility should visit the exhibition ‘Quattroruote Road to (R)evolution’, in the Villa of Monza. 

Crafted in the arcade

In the ancient arcade on Via San Gregorio, the British design magazine Wallpaper will hold its ‘Handmade’ exhibition for the seventh time, showcasing quality craftsmanship. There’ll be objects and furniture developed by renowned furniture brands in collaboration with international designers exclusively for this exhibition. For example, Thonet’s traditional bentwood furniture has been reinterpreted by the Belgian designer Sylvain Willenz, showing its more elegant side. We’re also very excited to experience the chandeliers designed by the American theatre director Robert Wilson. 

The course of things

More active visitors might wish to visit Nike Space on Via Orobia at 7.15am on Thursday morning. Nike Milan and Monocle magazine will hold a Morning Rundown, through the city centre. Following your run, you can eat a well-deserved breakfast at Makers & Bakers, the famous experimental bakery. For afters, try a mug full of stracciatella ice cream at Helm Ice Cream Social on Via Varese in Brescia. For supper, try and get a table at the superstar designer Tom Dixon’s pop-up restaurant. All this gluttony will end at the exhibition curated by Luca Cipelletti, entitled ‘The Shit Evolution’. It demonstrates every day objects and furniture made from, well, you know what. Apparently ‘Merdacotta’ is the new terracotta. 

Fondazione Prada

The Milan Design Week is also a great opportunity to visit the Fondazione Prada, which opened last year. In addition to the current exhibitions, the permanent exhibitions of Robert Gober, Louise Bourgeois and Dan Flavin are also well worth a visit. Of course, there is also the ingenious ‘Bar Luce’, a secluded Milanese café designed by film director Wes Anderson and inspired by classic Italian cinema. A trip to Milan is always worth it.

Photos: Salone del Mobile / Furorisalone / Tortona Design Week / Brera Design District/ San Gregorio Docet / Triennale di Milano / Fondazione Prada / The Brands & PR Departments

The Salone del Mobile runs from 12-17 April 2016 in Milan.