If you’re in design, there is no more momentous an occasion than the Salone del Mobile, that rendez-vous in Milan, the furniture world’s who’s who. If this were fine arts, Salone would be Art Basel, Frieze, and TEFAF rolled into one. After its 2020 cancellation, and last year’s toned-down Supersalone in September, this June’s 60th edition will run full steam. The Italian L’Officiel compared it to “a pregnancy finally coming to term.”
For those who aren’t familiar with the format, it’s a week of cocktail parties, installations, gallery openings, and, of course, the fair itself, in which hundreds of multi-million-dollar booths pop up in the city’s Rho Fiera. While the fair is mostly easy to navigate, the fuorisalone (out-of-fair) events can be trickier. Hundreds of openings dot the city, and each neighborhood has its own themed proceedings.
A few minutes away from the Duomo, in the Cinque Vie area, studios will be exhibiting shows themed “Prototyping Utopias.” The Archizoom collective will be the main act at the Poltronova headquarters. And Richard Yasmine’s furry, geometric armchairs, on view at the Gallerie, are so gargoylesque they’ll be hard to ignore.
Themes of nature and sustainability dominate across the board. In Brera, where more than 80 showrooms will be open for business, the theme is “Projecting the Present, Choosing the Future.” Porsche worked with the floral designer Ruby Barber to transform Palazzo Clerici, and the radical collective Design Variations has left the Litta Palace in favor of Circolo Filologico Milanese and Palazzo Visconti, where Olimpia Zagnoli is presenting site-specific works.
The Tortona district, headquarters for many fashion houses, has its own Tortona Design Week. Don’t miss Timberland’s “Floating Forest” in collaboration with Stefano Boeri Interiors, which will be quietly adrift on Milan’s Darsena waterfront.
Dimorestudio’s shows are a longtime favorite among residents, and this year’s Orizzonti will be held at Dimorecentrale, a sprawling space near the city’s central station (a relic of fascist architecture).
Excitingly, dilapidated areas on the outskirts of town are having their own revival moment, long overdue. Near Piazzale Loreto, at Villa Giardino H+, you’ll find the ambitious collective OSMO, which includes young designers such as Alba Maria.
Farther away, the former Necchi sewing-machine factory has been converted into the Baranzate Ateliers, a new project and a powerful nod to Italian industry. And the Certosa Initiative brings architects and designers together in a newly inaugurated 10,000-foot space that’s just minutes away from Viale Certosa, a motorway formerly inhabited by prostitutes and pimps.
Fuorisalone presents events around Milan in conjunction with the Salone del Mobile, and its most anticipated show is Alcova, the brainchild of Joseph Grima of Space Caviar and Valentina Ciuffi. A former military hospital in Baggio serves as Alcova’s exhibition space, and in its gardens, objects are shown among charming tufts of greenery that creep over dilapidated cement.
It’s Milan after all, so fashion houses are also having their say. Buccellati’s “Galateo” sees a Stefano Boeri Interiors installation on the headquarters’ terrace, and showcases silver-inspired tableware by Dimorestudio, Ashley Hicks, Chahan Minassian, and Patricia Urquiola, along with plates by Ginori 1735. Prada’s three-day “Prada Frames” event with Formafantasma features artists discussing nature and design in the hallowed halls of the Biblioteca Braidense.
As for museums, the Triennale has teamed up with Memphis Group for “Memphis Again,” a chronological display of 200 design objects from the 1980s. The backdrop is pounding music by techno D.J. Seth Troxler. A short cab ride away, at the Museo del Novecento, 70 works by the postmodernist Aldo Rossi trace the architect’s life—from his early years to his death in 1997.
It’s not all work. The aftershows are fun, too. Head to Bar Basso for both the scene and a Negroni Sbagliato, and to Lúbar in Via Palestro for a memorable Thursday-night drums session. There’s also the newly opened Ronin, a members’ club in the nascent Chinatown which has the best spicy margaritas in Milan. After all the activity, you’ll be needing one.
The 2022 Salone del Mobile will be on in Milan from June 7 to June 12
Elena Clavarino is an Associate Editor for AIR MAIL