9-14 April 2013, Milan
Craftsmen, manufacturers and designers across Europe are busy preparing their wares for the Milan Furniture Fair in two weeks time, when they will descend upon the city in droves together with retailers, design lovers, students, journalists and the occasional bemused tourist adding to their numbers.
As usual, the event’s focus is Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the eponymous furniture fair which is now entering its 52nd year. The banner for this year’s exhibition is ‘Milan: Interiors of Tomorrow’, and although it’s hard to see how that tepid tagline will illicit much innovative design, fierce competition between brands, as well as the sheer numbers - at least 1,400 exhibitors will be displaying their latest lines here alone - means many use Milan as the opportunity to launch their latest products.
Alongside the annual furniture fair, this year’s event will also include two biennial exhibitions: Euroluce and SaloneUfficio.
Euroluce will see 450 brands exhibiting all manner of lighting products and perhaps the most exciting offerings here will be Nigel Coates’ new collection of lamps for Italian lighting company Slamp, which will include designs by Zaha Hadid and Brazilian designer Zanini de Zanine.
SaloneUfficio is a workspace exhibition focusing on furniture, floorings, equipment and security/communication systems for offices. Cosmit, the organiser of the event, has commissioned Pritzker-winning French architect Jean Nouvel to create an installation for SaloneUfficio inauspiciously entitled ‘Project: Office for Living’. This installation covers 1,200m² and comprises five original workspace designs including a work-from home apartment, a converted warehouse and a freeform office space personalised via moveable accessories and sliding doors.
A digital installation at the centre of the space comprising four video-portraits of an artist, a philosopher, a film director and a writer discussing their opinions on office space adds a little sparkle to the work.
The 16th edition of SaloneSatellite, the exhibition of emerging designers is another important stopover at the event. Despite another anaemic tagline - ‘Craftsmanship & Design: Together for Industry’ - which is the show’s theme, the young designers who attend the show take the opportunity seriously and you can often catch many innovative products here. Last year, Moss Table was one of the more interesting pieces on show; a lamp that drew its energy from the organic by-products of a growing table of moss.
But there is much to see outside of the fairgrounds at Rho, with pop-up events taking place across Milan. The design districts of Tortona and Lambrate are worth a visit for smaller, less commercial goods. Tortona centres on streets of artisans’ shops, selling handmade iPad covers, crafted wristwatches and other such trinkets, while Lambrate provides a more curated exhibition space for brands which can’t afford the cost of competing with those at Rho. The city-centre district of Brera also hosts temporary pavilions linked to the main event, while its upmarket boutiques often jump on the bandwagon and launch their own new lines during the design festival.
Visitors should visit MOST (Museum of Science and Technology), which Tom Dixon will use as a venue for his own design event for the second year. Taking the more promising theme of ‘Rough and Smooth’ as the concept for his installation, it takes visitors from the initial manufacturing stages of his warehouse (rough) to the gleaming finished products of his showroom (smooth) via his latest lighting and furniture products. As last year, Dixon will also be curating products by other global brands, making MOST a mini design fair in itself. Products are being selected according to the theme ‘Disrupting Design’. Now that’s a good tagline.
Venue Main exhibition at Milan Fairgrounds, Rho, with additional events throughout the city
Admission Entrance tickets vary according to number of admissions to the Rho Fairgrounds. For a 1, 3 or 6 visit entrance card, cost is 20/40/52 euros bought online in advance, or 23/45/58 euros at the event. For non-trade delegates, the cost is 36 euros for two people, or 41 euros for a family ticket (two adults, one child).
Dates 9-14 April 2013 (Trade only: 9-12 April. General public: 13-14 April)