Milan Design Week: Salone del Mobile, more than a fair

The Salone del Mobile returns to Milan from 17th to 22nd April and with it, a myriad of events that will take over the city.  So that you don’t drown in a sea of design, grab onto our life raft of recommendations below.

Salone del Mobile

This fair is where design begins.  Going to Milan Design Week and not visiting the Salone Internazionale del Mobile is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.  This edition, which will be number 57, is dominated by optimism.  This is similar to its first manifesto, a declaration of intent that lays the foundations for a new way of thinking in order to ensure the continual development of this project that puts Milan at the centre of the design world.

The exhibition site at the Milan Fair is also home to the biennial Eurocucina and the International Bathroom Exhibition.  Salone Satellite, which showcases young designers, is another unmissable event.

Salone Milano 2017
In 2017 the Salone del Mobile welcomed 343 000 visitors. Photo:

Fuori Salone

With a literal meaning of “outside the exhibition hall”, it includes all of the exhibitions, showrooms, open days, talks, diverse events, many of which are pop-ups, that take place in the city during the fair.  Since 2013, there has been a guide which includes all of these events.  Here are the areas that you need to know about:

Tortona Design Week

Close to Navigli, this neighbourhood has an eclectic spirit and it will be home to a diverse array of events.  Make sure you don’t miss:

  • Superdesign Show: a series of fresh and original design proposals perfect for a post-exhibition afternoon. Here you’ll find a whole world of materials from Material ConneXion Italia, with their ‘Smart City’ and ‘Material Village’ exhibitions, which are focused on presenting cutting-edge material solutions and technology.  This show is also where you will find ‘Nendo: forms of movement,’ displaying 10 concepts based on movement and their processes.

    finsa by envisions wood in progress
    ‘Wood in progress’ is the continuation of ‘Wood in process’, a collaboration between Dutch design collective Envisions and multinational corporation Finsa. Photo:
  • ‘Finsa by Envisions, Wood in progress‘, is the continuation of ‘Wood in process‘. The collaboration between Dutch design collective Envisions and multinational corporation Finsa, who specialise in technical wood and decorative solutions, has gone a step further.  In 2018, they will apply the industrial process to some of their ideas from last year’s Milan Design Week.
  • Norwegian Presence brings the latest Nordic trends to Milan Design Week, focusing on quality and sustainability of materials
Nordic design trends come to Milan thanks to Norwegian Presence. Photo:

Brera Design District

Not far from Quadrilatero della Moda, you’ll find up to 92 permanent showrooms from some big-name brands.  Everything you need to know about the more than 200 events taking place here can be found on the Brera Design Week page.  This event includes a Brazilian design display of more than 65 artists and firms, as well as ‘Brera Design Apartment’, a new experience which was furnished and decorated using the best in artisan Italian design.  If you’re looking for something to take home with you, you’ll also find ‘Souvenir Milano’, a collection of 12 useful objects created by Italian designers using the city as inspiriation.


The well-known Ventura Lambratte becomes Ventura Projects, while still upholding their mission if introducing us to the most experimental projects around.  Eighty-two emerging designers will tackle the problems of an increasingly technological world in Venture Future.  Focus on health at the ‘HH. A Dutch Design Vision about Health and Happiness’ exhibition, which looks at practical solutions for patients.

For lovers of all things unusual, Ventura Centrale will open the doors to abandoned warehouses located underneath Milan’s Central Station, which will be home to some contemporary design installations.

IV Walk' by Alice Rees
HH. A Dutch Design Vision about Health and Happiness” looks at practical solutions for patients, like the ‘IV Walk’ by Alice Rees. Photo:

Triennale Design Museum

Make sure you catch Milan’s design museum while in town.  To coincide with this year’s Salone del Mobile the museum is offering a special program of more than 20 exhibitions dedicated to topics such as applying science to creativity, exhibition architecture, and light, with big names including Elio Martinelli, Seiko, and Panerai taking part.  April 14th will also see the inauguration of an exhibition dedicated to the history of Italian design.

Going beyond furniture and design

Apart from furniture manufacturers and designers, there will be several other projects heading to Milan.  Since the city is synonymous with fashion, several big fashion houses will be taking part in the week’s festivities.  This year we’ll be sure to catch the return of ‘Objets Nomades’ by Louis Vuitton and the highly anticipated installation by Phillip K Smith for COS.

Rossana Orlandi’s gallery, an essential name in Milanese design, will be home to Google’s debut at MDW.  The technology giant is taking its immersive experience ‘Softwear’ to Milan, an exhibition which looks at Google’s hardware and how it can become part of and adapt to our lives.

The automotive industry has also signed up to show the importance of design in their sector.  Limitless Co-Existence by Lexus, Energy Zone by Hyundai, and Mini Living by Mini, the latter of which revolves around the creative use of space, a recurrent theme for the brand, are just some of the exhibitions which will be on offer next week.

What are your unmissable events at Milan Design Week?