Car companies are increasingly finding their way to Milan in a bid to absorb the creative spirit of Salone del Mobile; it makes sense to be involved in the wider design world given the car’s ongoing evolution from a vehicle for transport to a multi-functioning product and advanced tech gadget.

This year, Toyota presented an unusual study car as part of Fuorisalone, away from the main trade show in the vibrant Tortona design district. The Setsuna is made of wood, and at first glance it could easily be mistaken for a toy car. Yet this is a fully functioning roadster replete with an engine conceptualised to explore our relationship with our cars, our memories, history and the physical ageing process.

Meanwhile, sister company Lexus took over a former metal factory to exhibit 'Anticipation' with Formafantasma. Here the Italian design studio based its study on the Lexus LF-FC, first seen at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, to create a curious trio of installations that explore the fusion of machine, craft and tradition in the context of this hydrogen powered fuel-cell car.

The Japanese marque also exhibited its Lexus Design Awards, an ambitious annual project to support emerging international talent. Among the 12 finalists chosen from over a thousand entries were some interesting and unusual propositions. They included packaging material made from seaweed, an instinctive children’s toy set, modular clothing and a clock that visualises the present by marking the passing of time.

Also in Tortona, 'Mini Living' explored urban life, with some simple yet intriguing ideas on affordable compact housing for a utopian future. The concept saw four 30 sq m apartments share a residential building to form a micro-neighbourhood where basic assets are shared through a clever wall mechanism of rotating shelves that are pushed out into a communal space.

Elsewhere, 'Cactus Chair' by Italian designer Mario Bellini utilises Airbump, the intelligent protective side shield mounted on the Citroën C4 Cactus, for a lightweight and comfortable seating product.

Land Rover and industrial designer Odo Fioravanti created an installation featuring a surfboard, snowboard and longboard to celebrate the freedom of movement offered by the latest Evoque Convertible SUV, whilst Aston Martin joined forces with Quintessence Yachts to celebrate the imminent launch of its first luxury powerboat, the AM37.

See above for our pick of the most inspiring car-related products in Milan above...