Milan Design Week is one of the annual highlights of the global design calendar – but the pandemic and global lockdowns put the star-studded event on hiatus for 18 months. This year, however, the world’s biggest celebration of design returns to Milan, eschewing the regular April dates to run 5-10 September.
Salone del Mobile will take place, as always, at the sprawling Rho Fiera showground. Unsurprisingly, the event has been scaled back and reimagined for our new normal. Curated by Milanese architect Stefano Boeri – who has dubbed this year’s edition ‘Supersalone’ – it will still present some of the most exciting new launches of the year.
Unlike in previous years, however, where companies and brands would create their own immersive exhibition spaces, Supersalone will be presented within a flexible, modular wall system created by designers Andrea Caputo and Lukas Wegwerth. This framework will allow brands to display products in a variety of ways to create a “library of design” – and it will be recycled after the show.
The other major shift is in ticketing for the event – visitors will have to purchase tickets online for a specific timed slot ahead of attending and are limited to one ticket per order. They will also need to provide evidence of vaccination or a negative test for entry.
Many other showrooms and galleries across Milan are taking a similar approach to ticketing and entrance – meaning visitors will need to be more organised this year than ever before. Whether you’re planning a visit or experiencing the event remotely, read on to discover the must-see exhibitions, installations, and launches taking place at Salone del Mobile and across the city this month.
Andreu World (Supersalone)
Spanish furniture brand Andreu World, available through KE-ZU in Australia, is showcasing new pieces from two of the biggest names in design at Supersalone. A new chair in collaboration with Philippe Starck, and the innovative Nuez Lounge BIO by Patricia Urquiola. Constructed from 100 per cent natural origin thermopolymer, the innovative lounge is biodegradable and compostable.
Barcelona-based Nanimarquina, available through Cult Design, is renowned for its exquisite designer rugs – and this year they are expanding with a dedicated contract division. The inaugural contract collection, Formula Contract, allows specifiers to choose from five different models in 30 colours to create more than 250 possible combinations for indoor and outdoor spaces.
The Lost Graduation Show (Supersalone)
Global lockdowns meant that many recent design graduates missed out on the opportunity to showcase their work to the public. This exciting exhibition brings together 170 projects from students who graduated in the past two years, encompassing 48 schools from 22 different countries – and it’s the best place to spot new talent.
Italian brand Arper, available at Stylecraft, will be launching several new pieces at Supersalone. Highlights include the brand’s first solid timber lounge chair, Kata by Altherr Désile Park, and the Aston Club collection of seating by Jean-Marie Massaud. The collections will also be exhibited at the Arper showroom in Via Pantano 3, which will be extended with a pop-up space.
Tom Dixon has a big presence in Milan – not least thanks to The Manzini, the brand’s restaurant, showroom, and shop. This year, the brand will be using the space to showcase its latest collections, which celebrate its signature sculptural forms and expressive materiality. For more Tom Dixon, head to the Valextra showroom. Tom Dixon and Austrian lighting specialists Prolicht have teamed up with the luxury leather goods brand to create an exhibition that pays homage to the Milanese masters of design. Tom Dixon is available through Living Edge.
In response to the changes in the way we live and work over the past year, Knoll (available through dedece) has created a special setting in its showroom that presents solutions for the home in a post-pandemic world. The Grasshopper family of tables for either the traditional workplace or home office by Piero Lissoni is a particularly timely collection. These new collections will be showcased alongside some of the brand’s iconic pieces by the likes of Mies van der Rohe and Florence Knoll.
Workplace and hospitality environments have perhaps experienced the most change throughout the pandemic, and so it’s no surprise that many of the new furniture pieces from Cassina are focused largely on these two sectors, with some crossover to the home. Expect launches from some of the design world’s biggest names, including Michael Anastassiades, Jeffrey Bernett, Philippe Starck and Patricia Urquiola. Cassina is available in Australia at Mobilia.
Carl Hansen & Søn
This classic Danish brand, represented by Cult Design, launches three new designs during Fuorisalone – the T-chair by Ole Wanscher, the Plico chair by Fabricius Kasthom, and Ilse Crawford’s take on Hans J. Wegner’s iconic masterpieces. There will also be an exhibition celebrating the design of Kaare Klint, known as the father of Danish Design.
Discover new collections in stone by Patricia Urquiola, Stephen Burks, Piero Lissoni, and Elisa Ossino in the Salvatori showroom in the heart of Brera, which has been recently redesigned by Piero Lissoni.
Like many in the global design scene, Lebanese interior designer Richard Yasmine will be unable to physically attend Milan this year – so, he will be streaming live from his studio for the entire event. An enormous LED screen will present the designer at life size, talking about how his work blurs the boundary between the physical and digital worlds.
A Beach in the Baroque
After close to two years of global lockdowns and social distancing, there’s no question that we are all looking for a bit of fun – and this installation by Portuguese design studio Aires Mateus is a celebration of people coming back together. The main courtyard of Palazzo Litta will be transformed with a colourful “super cabin” that evokes beachside huts and contrasts dramatically with the historic architectural setting.