Salone del Mobile 2023 and Milan Design Week offered a rich programme of events, installations and launches from 18 to 23 April, as the fair returned to its traditional Spring dates for the first time in three years.
Discover our highlights from Milan Design Week 2023 and Salone del Mobile below
Salone del Mobile 2023: ‘we want to create connections’
For 2023, Salone expands its reach to welcome a new cultural programme within its halls, led by architect Beppe Finessi alongside a team of industry professionals. ‘We worked with a multidisciplinary approach: design is already present at Salone del Mobile, so with our programme we aim to bring architecture, art, photography to the fairgrounds,’ says Finessi. His contribution will include a bookshop by Italian publisher Corraini and designed by Formafantasma, as well as several exhibitions that will bring new concepts of creativity and imagination to the fair.
‘People come to Salone to discover what’s new from the brands, but also to create connections. And this is what we missed,’ says Salone del Mobile president, Maria Porro. ‘To create these connections, the layout of the fair is very important. So we decided to have an urbanistic approach. To think about the fair as a city, an ideal city, starting from the pavilions of Euroluce.’
The design of the pavilions was entrusted to Milanese architectural firm Lombardini 22, who will create a layout that enhances visitors’ journey. The new layout will be inspired by Italian historic town centres, reimagining the fair as a city, for which Euroluce will serve as experimental ground.
Euroluce 2023: the fair as a city
Euroluce 2023 will feature a radical rethink of its pavilions. ‘We have been focusing on lighting as an object, on its shape. But light is increasingly connected to technology, to the way it reacts to human beings, how it influences how we experience a space,’ continues Porro.
In addition to the companies’ stands will be a series of site-specific cultural moments, dubbed ‘Constellations’ and featuring works by creatives (names include Sarah Illenberger and Patrick Tuttofuoco) shown within structures designed by Formafantasma. Modular pavilions made of paper and wood (to have the minimum impact and be reused and recycled after the event) will punctuate the Euroluce pavilions and become immersive moments of pause within the bustling fair.
Within Euroluce will also be Aurore, an arena conceived by Formafantasma to host a talk programme, curated by Annalisa Rosso. When not in use, the space is imagined by the designers as a ‘place for meditation and reflection,’ says Formafantasma co-founder Simone Farresin. ‘The space will have its own life, we are combining its functional aspect with a more immersive point of view that looks at light not just as a design product but as a wider concept.’
FUORISALONE 2023: WHAT TO SEE AROUND MILAN
We bring you the latest Fuorisalone 2023 locations as well as news from brands and designers. Discover the places to see at Milan Design Week 2023, as well as design guides to Brera, 5Vie, Tortona and the best furniture showrooms.
New locations for Milan Design Week exhibitions
One of the peculiarities of Milan Design Week, and what makes Fuorisalone so special is the fact that throughout the week, historical palazzos are taken over by brands, collectives and designers to showcase some of the most creative design installations. Milan Design Week 2023 offers a path of exploration of the city, with several new locations used as backdrop to design exhibitions for the first time.
Alcova 2023 at the Porta Vittoria Abattoir: Curators Joseph Grima and Valentina Ciuffi launched group show 'Alcova' in 2018: every year since, the project has taken over a dilapidated building somewhere in Milan, with a selection curated by Grima and Ciuffi featuring creative interventions by brands and designers.
In 2023, Alcova will take over the historical quarter of the Porta Vittoria Abattoir (Via Molise 62), which will be open to the public for the first time. Spanning 20,000 sq m across six buildings, the event will animate the abandoned spaces through performances, exhibitions, talks, screenings and installations. This year's spaces will be taken over by the likes of Lindsey Adelman, Kiki Goti, Mario Tsai, Objects of Common Interest and Holloway Li with Uma, while national participations will include This is Denmark, curated by Laura Traldi and Elena Cattaneo and Finland's Habitarematerials, a material library featuring 14 local brands.
‘In a spontaneous and surprising way this community has become bigger and bigger, yet manages to preserve its original nature,’ Ciuffi told Wallpaper* on the occasion of Alcova 2022. 'It is a snapshot of what design is at the moment.'
Gubi at Bagni Misteriosi: for the first time, Bagni Misteriosi and Teatro Franco Parenti (Via Carlo Botta, 18) become the backdrop to a series of design exhibitions that include the company's new outdoor furniture collections, as well as an exhibition celebrating Gam Fratesi's Beetle chair, curated by Marco Sammicheli.
Assab One: Cultural destination Assab One (Via Privata Assab, 1) has been firmly placed on the design map, also thanks to its popular 1+1+1 series of exhibitions mixing different disciplines. This year, the complex (also home to Formafantasma’s Milanese studio) hosts a series of design displays that include Giacomo Moor’s Design for Communities, an initiative in collaboration with NGO Liveinslums. For the project, Moor created beds, tables, and benches for the refectory and dorm of the elementary school in Mathare, one of the largest Slums in Nairobi. Also at Assab One is Karimoku Commons, whose exhibition (curated by Norm Architects) is imagined as 'a journey through Japanese culture'. It will include new works by Norman Foster, Daniel Rybakken and Ville Kokkonen among others.
Capsule Plaza at Spazio Maiocchi: Following the success of the 2022 displays, annual design publication Capsule takes over Spazio Maiocchi (Via Achille Maiocchi, 7) and nearby venues to present Capsule Plaza, a multidisciplinary series of displays that include new work by Formafantasma for Tacchini, a black and white collection by Snarkitecture for Gufram, a new collaboration between Dozie Kanu and Byredo, and more. In the space's main courtyard, Panther Tourron and XL Extralight present Softscope, an architectural installation and conversation pit inspired by Radical Design
Dropcity - Centrale: located in the arches around Stazione Centrale, Drop City made its debut in 2022 and quickly became a must-visit destination at Fuorisalone. Located at the Magazzini Raccordati (Via Sammartini), in 2024 the space will become a culture centre, designed by architect Andrea Caputo and including exhibition spaces, workshops and more. For Milan Design Week 2023, the arches will include an exhibition by Mudac (Tunnel 46), debuting at Fuorisalone under the new direction of Beatrice Leanza with an exhibition curated by Anniina Koivu and titled Prepper’s Pantry: Objects that Save Lives. Actoss the different spaces is also an exhibition on Giulio Ridolfo's approach to colour (Tunnel 50) and Daisuke Motogi's 'Hackability of the Stool' project, based on Alvar Aalto's Stool 60 by Artek (Tunnel 56).
Teatro Albers: creative platform AMO, led by Ambra Medda and Veronica Sommaruga, present ‘Teatro Albers’ (Teatro Istituto Marcelline, Via Francesco Petrarca ang. Piazza Tommaseo), an exhibition at Milan Design Week 2023 (until 20 April) featuring work informed by the teachings of Josef and Anni Albers that celebrates contemporary craftsmanship. Taking over the spaces of a Milanese nunnery and school (which both Medda and Sommaruga attended as children), the exhibition features the work of master weaver Laura de Cesare and London-based Italian designer Marco Campardo.
Convey: Very Simple Kitchen and Sunnei are among the brands featured in this group exhibition curated by Simple Flair, taking place in the BasicVillage located in the Farini neighbourhood. The idea is to highlight ‘a new wave of design companies’, to accelerate their growth and connect them with the design community.
More Fuorisalone 2023: Discover Milan through design
Possibly the most picturesque neighbourhood of Milan, Brera’s cobbled streets play host to an array of showrooms, galleries and exhibition spaces.
Via Solferino is a key design avenue for the area, and must-visit locations include Boffi and Salvatori (Via Solferino 11), accessed through a charming courtyard. The same address hosts Dimoregallery, Dimorestudio’s intimate apartment featuring an exhibition titled 'No Sense', part of the studio's 20th anniversary celebrations, and a space run by creative agency H+O, which this year becomes the backdrop to Muuto's new collections.
Next door at no 9 is Missoni Home, a vibrant, light-filled showroom that's always worth a visit, and at no 7 is Alpi, whose wooden surfaces this year have been incorporated into projects by Konstantin Grcic and Piero Lissoni.
Also on via Solferino (at the corner with via Castelfidardo 2), textile studio Kirkby presents Noise, an immersive installation in collaboration with Korean artist Greem Jeong.
Moroso (Via Pontaccio 8) presents new designs by Patricia Urquiola, Zanellato Bortotto, Elena Sanguankeo and Front. Nearby is also Dedar (via Fiorichiari 18), showing its new textile offerings through a playful collection of animals conceived by Studio Ossidiana.
From Via Solferino, if you turn into Via Palermo you’ll find La Pelota at no 10, a traditional Fuorisalone venue where Hermès has traditionally staged a world of exquisite objects and furniture to discover.
Milan-based British designer and artist George Sowden opens up his exhibition space (Spazio 44, Corso di Porta Nuova, 44), also hosting Danish brand Raawii and The Wrong Shop showcasing their new works.
Casa Mutina (Via Cernaia 1/A) is the ceramic tiles specialist's home in the heart of Brera, its latest collections including tile designs by Patricia Urquiola and Michael Anastassiades.
Don’t miss Time & Style (Via San Marco 13), Agape (Via Statuto, 12) Flexform (via della Moscova 33 with a photo exhibition celebrating past campaigns and sofa design) and Loro Piana (Via Della Moscova 33), the latter showcasing an impressive installation by Christian Mohaded that celebrates its exclusive materials.
Off San Marco, Poliform offers a unique take on their collections with a scenographic installation at Chiostri di San Simpliciano.
At Ginori 1735 (Piazza S. Marco, 3), the porcelain brand launches Ginori Domus, making their debut into interior design with a collection by Luca Nichetto.
Natural stone specialist Solidnature presents an ambitious installation in titled 'Beyond the Surface', set in the basement and gardens of the neo-Romanesque Casa Maveri (Via Cernaia 1). The stone wonderland includes a dreamscape by OMA, a garden with installations by Sabine Marcelis and Iranian artist Bita Fayyazi, as well as a stage and podium by Studio Ossidiana and a sculpture by Ward Strootman.
A few steps north of Brera, in the Herzog & de Meuron Feltrinelli building (Viale Pasubio 15), UniFor unveils new designs in its new showroom, with new shelving systems by OMA and Snøhetta, and a set designed by Ron Gilad.
Nendo opens up his studio (Pinamonte da Vimercate 4, Milan) for a new collaboration with Daniel Arsham that will see the American artist reinterpret and deconstruct some of the design studio's most iconic pieces giving it new functions.
Once again, Swiss modular furniture USM has partnered with Rossignoli bikes (Corso Garibaldi 71) for a takeover of the shop showcasing its latest limited edition. Created in collaboration with artist Claudia Comte and in partnership with with social entrepreneur The Skateroom, the collection features the iconic USM Haller modular furniture with a black and white zig zag pattern by the artist.
Furniture showrooms and Quadrilatero della Moda
Fuorisalone is a great opportunity for a full immersion into the best Italian furniture showrooms (many of which are practically located in a small area within the city centre), and for the occasion, these spaces become immersive displays of each brand’s latest launches.
First stop is Via Durini with B&B Italia, Technogym and Gallotti & Radice, Edra, Natuzzi, Dolce & Gabbana Home and Cassina (the latter is also staging an unmissable exhibition, 'Cassina Echoes', celebrating 50 years of their I Maestri collection at Palazzo Broggi).
Hop along to nearby Corso Monforte to discover Artemide, Danese, Flos, Nemo (whose installation by Ron Gilad offers a surreal approach to lighting design), DePadova and Marta Sala Éditions.
Tucked in a courtyard behind the Flos showroom is Danish textile authority Kvadrat, showcasing its latest design collaboration with Ronan Bouroullec in the space. Also on Corso Monforte is Living Divani Gallery, part showroom and part exhibition space, designed by Piero Lissoni and the new showroom of outdoor furniture brand Emu.
At the top of Corso Monforte, Porro opens its new showroom, hidden behind a brutalist façade and with an installation inspired by Bruno Munari's book 'Nella nebbia di Milano', paying tribute to the legendary designer who created the company's logos in the 1960s.
Around the area, don’t miss Armani Casa (Corso Venezia 14, this year exceptionally also at their HQ at Palazzo Orsini, Via Borgonuovo 11), Meridiani (Corso Venezia 29), Visionnaire (Piazza Cavour 3, also featuring a bistrot for a culinary pit-stop among design viewings), Poliform (Piazza Cavour 2) and Baxter (Largo Augusto 1).
Among the palazzos, don't miss Palazzo Serbelloni (Corso Venezia, 16), whose grand interiors are home to Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades, with new designs by the likes of Atelier Biagetti and Raw Edges.
Palazzo Del Senato (Via Senato 10) becomes the backdrop for American bathroom brand Kohler's showcase of its artistic collaborations that elevate the bathroom experience. ‘The Creator’s Journey’ features works by a group of female artists and an installation by sculptor Janet Echelman.
A few steps away, at the Senato Garden, Dedon presents an exhibition titled 'Spirit of Design: Inspired by Nature', featuring collections by Werner Aisslinger, Stephen Burks and more.
Nearby Villa Necchi offers a taste of old Milan, and this year its garden pavilion formed the backdrop to German smart lighting brand Occhio's latest launches.
Quadrilatero della Moda (the city’s fashion district), is home to Molteni & C (Corso Europa 2) and Henge (Via della Spiga 34). On Via della Spiga 31, Giorgetti opens its new, 4-floor palazzo featuring a new showroom concept titled The Place and demonstrating the company’s collections in a sophisticated setting.
Among this year's new openings is Cappellini, whose new showroom (via Borgogna 8) will become the inventive brand's new home in Milan and showcase its latest collections as well as contemporary classics.
Poltrona Frau’s showroom in a frescoed building (Via Manzoni 30) forms the backdrop for the Italian company’s latest collection, titled ‘Pleasure’ and featuring new designs as well as historical reissues. Not far, LaCividina unveils a new showroom (via Manzoni 41) with a display celebrating Pierre Paulin’s Osaka sofa upholstered in a new Kvadrat textile.
Venture into the same palazzo to discover Alessi's Ars Metallica, a project that celebrates the Italian brand's factory and its ability to invent with metal. Set around the palazzo's courtyard, the exhibition includes Il Tornitore Matto, a new brand by Alberto Alessi with collaboration by the likes of Michael Anastassiades, Nika Zupanc and Michele de Lucchi.
London department store Liberty launches FuturLiberty, a double exhibition (Museo del Novecento and Palazzo Morando) based on an in-depth historical research into the work of the Futurists and Vorticists that has been applied to the brand's interior and fashion textiles.
Wonderglass returns to Istituto Dei Ciechi (via Vivaio, 7) with an immersive exploration of glass by the likes of Paul Cocksedge, Tom Dixon, Elisa Ossino, Bethan Laura Wood and more.
In its showroom (Piazza della Scala), Fendi Casa presents new collections including pieces by Cristina Celestino and a window installation by Dutch designer Joost van Bleiswijk.
Nearby, Teatro Filodrammatici (Piazza Paolo Ferrari, 6) is the stage of Prada Frames 2023, a symposium curated by Formafantasma (from 17 to 19 April 2023) exploring the theme of ‘Materials in Flux’ through a series of talks, debates, screenings and conversations.
This year, Spanish design brand BD Barcelona stages a takeover or Peres Projects (Piazza Belgioioso 2), showcasing icons from the company’s past on the occasion of its 50th anniversary and a new generation at the helm.
Meanwhile, French brand La Manufacture showed its new collection by German designer Sebastian Herkner at the home of author Alessandro Manzoni in the heart of the city.
South Milan: Navigli and Zona Tortona
South of Milan is Zona Tortona, one of the original Fuorisalone locations: gravitating around main avenues Via Tortona, Via Savona and Via Bergognone are a series of large-scale installations, exhibitions and design hubs. The area erupts onto the Navigli, the city’s picturesque canal area.
This year, Ikea is back in the area (Padiglione Visconti, via Tortona 58), with an exhibition celebrating the company’s 80th anniversary with a new collection and the announcement of Annie Leibovitz as its inaugural Artist in Residence.
Also in the area, Paola Navone has worked with media company The Slowdown to give away some of her most prized objects gathered throughout a lifetime of travel and design, that will be shown at an exhibition titled ‘Take it or leave it’ and offered to Milan Design Week visitors through a special lottery system (OTTO Studio, Via Tortona 31).
Don't miss a visit to Atelier Biagetti (Piazza Arcole 4), Alberto Biagetti and Laura Baldassari's studio who over the years have brought us great thematic design exhibition. This year, the pair was inspired by Elvis Presley for their 'Legend' collection of furniture and lighting.
David Chipperfield opens his Milan studio (via Vigevano 8) to present the Tegel rug family, designed by David Chipperfield for Kasthall, and a photographic exhibition dedicated to Procuratie Vecchie.
5 Vie is a historical district west of Duomo, home to cultural hub Piazza Gorani, which includes Riviera (Via Gorani 4), a creative space led by Italian design brand Lapalma. The district’s 2023 theme is Design for Good, which, a statement announces, is ‘intended as an invitation to look at design as a tool for creating and cultivating deep human connections.’
Among the area’s exhibitions is A Future for the Past, curated by Wallpaper* Milan Editor Maria Cristina Didero and celebrating the legacy of Tinos marble through the metaphor of the temple, created by green studio on•entropy.
Faye Toogood is the latest designer to interpret Matisse's legacy with a new collection of furniture and textiles for Maison Matisse (Via Santa Marta 21).
In 5Vie, don't miss the exhibition Recipes for the Future: A Cross-Cultural Alchemy, by the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council and curated by Milanese consultancy Mr Lawrence. In this exhibition, the Sharjah-based cultural council explores the theme of hospitality as a connector of cultures.
Also in 5Vie is Sara Ricciardi’s Human Mandala, an exhibition interpreting the form of the human body as a mandala formation. Richard Yasmine presents Silent Hollows + #mirrors, an AI-powered installation exploring the connection between humans and nature. Anna Carnick / Anava Project curates Love Letters, an exhibition of works conceived to express gratitude and featuring designs by Augustina Bottoni, Xanthe Somers and Maryam Turkey among others.
At Alberto Levi Gallery (Via San Maurilio 24), Jan Kath presents new colourful rug collections, featuring both abstract chromatic compositions and revisited traditional designs.
On the edge of 5Vie was the unmissable 'OMG-GMO', a project by Bitossi Ceramiche designed by Robert Stadler and curated by Carwan Gallery's Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte: think ceramic avocados, bananas and watermelons becoming functional lighting and furniture designs.
A few streets from 5Vie is Maarten Baas latest design extravaganza, a project in collaboration with G-Star Raw set in a church and featuring a denim-covered plane (Chiesa di San Paolo Converso, P.za Sant'Eufemia).
Milan Design galleries to visit during Fuorisalone
Milanese design galleries have helped establish the city’s design and cultural panorama, with a successful mix of old and new designs often placed in conversation within their spaces. The design galleries in Milan come alive during Fuorisalone with specially commissioned projects, objects and installations not to be missed.
Start with design destination Nilufar (Via della Spiga 32), Nina Yashar’s gallery presenting the most exciting names in collectible design. The gallery’s second outpost, Nilufar Depot, opened in 2015 in an industrial space just outside of the city’s centre (Via Lancetti 34) that used to hold Yashar’s archives and has now been transformed into an exciting exhibition space, whose main floor is taken over by Objects of Common Interest with an exhibition based on resin works. Among the new projects by the gallery is 'Poikilos: new forms of iridescence' by Objects of Common Interest, curated by Studio Vedèt.
Rossana Orlandi’s gallery (Via Matteo Bandello 14) is a life-sized cabinet of curiosities that will offer a sense of discovery to any design journey, with a mix of emerging talent and independent brands showcased across its spaces.
The new location of Dimoregallery is near Stazione Centrale (Via GB Sammartini 63): aptly named Dimorecentrale, the space a multifunctional hub with a courtyard-facing bar and a store selling a selection of objects chosen by studio founders Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci.
Also in the area is newcomer Oxilia Gallery (via Nino Oxilia 9), founded in 2022 by Alessandro Mensi and long-term Wallpaper* collaborator Frederik De Wachter, now presenting an exhibition by British artist and designer Grace Prince.
The beauty of design in Milan is that it’s often combined with art, architecture and Milanese cultural institutions. Some of the most important cultural locations in the city are, more often than not, part of Fuorisalone’s programming.
These include the Triennale (Viale Emilio Alemagna 6) with its recently inaugurated design museum led by former Wallpaper* Milan editor, Marco Sammicheli. This year, Triennale transforms into a veritable design hub, with exhibitions and presentations that more than ever cement it as a must-visit destination.