Salone del Mobile is back for its 2021 edition (until 10 September). The Milan furniture fair is back after an 18-month hiatus with a special show curated by Milanese architect Stefano Boeri.

Here, we guide you through all there is to know about Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone 2021. 

Salone del Mobile 2021: Supersalone curated by Stefano Boeri

Gio Ponti chairs upholstered in brown shown within an installation replicating the interiors of a plane at Supersalone
At Supersalone, Molteni presents Flight D.154.5, an immersive installation by Ron Gilad replicating an airplane interior and featuring a reissue of the ‘Round D.154.5’ armchair, designed by Gio Ponti in 1954 and used within the Alitalia offices in Manhattan and the Alitalia passenger terminal in Milan 

Salone del Mobile 2021 is dubbed ‘Supersalone’: an event curated by Boeri in collaboration with designers Andrea Caputo, Lukas Wegwerth and Giorgio Donà, curators Maria Cistina Didero and Anniina Koivu, and graphic designer duo Marco Ferrari and Elisa Pasqual of Studio Folder.

‘A visit to the annual Salone is an exhilarating dose of energy and new ideas: we are all longing to accelerate, produce, review, enjoy’ – Anniina Koivu 

Supersalone is presented as a thematical and scenographic display where companies are able to show their best work from the past 18 months: a unique and special moment to discover today’s design panorama. Designed by Caputo and engineered by Wegwerth with special attention to sustainability and recycling of the structure, the exhibition is staged as a ‘library of design’ featuring a specially designed flexible and modular wall system to offer different display opportunities to brands. All installations will be recycled after the show, and Salone Del Mobile also partnered with local initiative ‘Forestami’ to create a forest of 200 trees throughout the fairgrounds that will later be planted across Milan. 

Salone del Mobile 2021 is also the first edition to be staged under the direction of newly-nominated president, Maria Porro. Marketing and communications director at historic Italian design brand Porro, she is also president of the trade association for Italy’s furniture manufacturers and a board member of the Altagamma Foundation. ‘I grew up with the Salone del Mobile,’ says Porro. ‘I am honoured to take on this role at such a vital and transformative time. I and the entire board of directors will be working to ensure that, as a unique and indispensable design showcase, the Salone rises to meet future challenges regarding sustainability, digitalisation, research, innovation, creativity and inclusiveness, as ever maintaining the highest quality.’

Design talks and thematic exhibitions

Fogo Island Workshops display at Supersalone featuring wooden chairs by Anthony Guex
Pieces by Anthony Guex for Fogo Island Workshops in collaboration with Anniina Koivu, part of ‘The Makers Show’ 

Within the fair, curator and Wallpaper* Milan editor Maria Cristina Didero has curated a daily programme of live events, including talks, conversations and lectures led by design’s great masters, architects, entrepreneurs and creatives to offer insights into design, art, architecture, education, the circular economy, environmental impact, the relationship between project and curation and much more.

‘The visit to the annual Salone is an exhilarating dose of energy and new ideas,’ says Koivu. ‘Now, after the interruption of the last 18 months, we are all longing to accelerate, produce, review, enjoy. The Supersalone will pull us out of the stand-by mode in which we have all been languishing.’

Supersalone 2021 also includes a newly conceived presentation titled ‘The Makers Show’. Interspersed within the fair’s displays, the project celebrates craftsmanship and innovation through a showcase by independent brands, workshops, studios and laboratories including Trame Paris, Ishinomaki Laboratory and Fogo Island Workshops.

Left, a red and black chair by Franco Albini. Right, a plastic chair in red by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper for Kartell
‘Take Your Seat – Solitude and Conviviality of the Chair’: left, ‘Luisa’ by Franco Albini (1955). Right, ‘K 1340’ by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper for Kartell (1964)

Another exhibition staged throughout the fair’s halls is ‘Take Your Seat – Solitude and Conviviality of the Chair’, curated by Nina Bassoli in partnership with ADI/Compasso d’Oro, featuring over a hundred iconic chairs from the history of Italian design, from the likes of Gae Aulenti to Gio Ponti. Using the chair as a starting point (perhaps the object best suited to reflect the concept of ‘good design’), the exhibition illustrates ‘how design has harnessed languages and content throughout the great changes in society and how it has managed to respond to new cultural paradigms with new inventions’.

The Lost Graduation Show: a new opportunity for emerging designers

Colourful timber installation by Japanese design graduate Chiaki Yoshihara
‘Seam of skin’ by Chiaki Yoshihara, Musashino Art University. Photography: Yunosuke Ishibashi

An important initiative for Supersalone is the ‘Lost Graduation Show’: led by Koivu, it offers students from design schools worldwide an opportunity to show their graduation projects to the public, through a display designed by Camille Blin e Anthony Guex. 

An open call was sent out to over 300 design schools across all continents, and the resulting display, Koivu says, ‘provides a unique occasion to [...] reassess just what the most pressing design topics are, and rethink where design should be heading. What better way to start than by listening to the questions being asked by the new generation of designers, as well as the answers they are proposing?’

Navigating Salone del Mobile: practical info

Installation of trees at Salone del Mobile Rho Fiera
The ‘Bosco di Forestami’ installation greeting visitors to Supersalone

Since 2005, Salone del Mobile has taken place in the Fuksas-designed Rho fairground, about 15km from Milan. Its 753,000 sq m make it the largest fairground in Europe, and its design is defined by the airy structure connecting the pavilions. 

How to get to Salone del Mobile

We recommend reaching Salone del Mobile by public transport to avoid the traffic on arrival and departure. M1 (the red metro line) connects the Rho-Fieramilano station with several locations across the city (including Porta Venezia and Duomo). The journey takes about 25 minutes and you’re bound to meet other design enthusiasts on board for dynamic conversation. 

Salone del Mobile 2021 tickets, access and opening hours

The fair is open to architects, press design buyers and other professionals. Visitors can register in advance through the Salone del Mobile for an e-ticket. On Friday 10 September, the fair will also be accessible by the general public, with tickets on sale through the Salone del Mobile website. Opening hours are Sunday to Thursday, 10AM to 7PM, Friday 10AM to 4PM.

Fuorisalone 2021: what to see in the city during Milan Design Week

Large green inflatable Gufram Pratone installed in Piazza San Fedele, Milan

Super Pratone by Gufram, Piazza San Fedele. Photography: Roberto Conte

Once you’ve had your full immersion into the furniture world of the fairgrounds, you’ll want to take a stroll through the city. Fuorisalone 2021 will showcase the latest contemporary design throughout the city’s central neighbourhoods. This is the most exciting time to be in Milan: historical palazzos open their eclectic interiors to the work of emerging design talent, showrooms showcase the latest launches and everywhere you turn, there is a promise of discovery (and exciting encounters).

Discover our pick of Fuorisalone 2021 launches and unmissable exhibitions.

Brera

mirrors made of stone replicating stylized human faces by Stephen Burks for Salvatori
’Neighbors Mirrors‘ by Stephen Burks for Salvatori

Possibly the most picturesque neighbourhood of Milan, Brera’s cobbled streets play host to an array of showrooms, galleries and exhibitions spaces.

Via Solferino is a key design avenue for the area, and must-visit locations for Fuorisalone 2021 include Salvatori (Via Solferino 11), launching new pieces by Stephen Burks, Patricia Urquiola and Piero Lissoni, as well as ‘The Village’, a project featuring miniature houses by the likes of Kengo Kuma and John Pawson. Also at n.11 is ‘I’ll be your Mirror’ (Via Solferino 11), an installation by designers and creative directors Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer and Elisa Ossino, staged as an immersive, experimental apartment interior in collaboration with brands including Fredericia, Boffi (whose showroom is downstairs) and De Castelli.

Minimalist metal bar cabinet by Claudio Salocchi
Wood and metal bar cabinet by Claudio Salocchi, displayed at Dimoregallery

The same address hosts Dimoregallery, Dimorestudio’s intimate apartment that for Fuorisalone 2021 becomes stage to a series of displays with the theme of ‘Past, Present and Future’ celebrating Italian Rationalism and the 1930s, and the work of designer Claudio Salocchi merging utilitarian and futuristic aesthetics. The exhibitions are accompanied by a digital display (unveiled on 8 September 2021) presenting the Dimoremilan brand launches. A few doors down, Wood veneer specialist Alpi present new surface designs by Raw Edges and Piero Lissoni (Via Solferino 7), and German furniture brand ClassiCon unveils new pieces by Christian Haas, OrtegaGuijarro and Sebastian Herkner, shown inside an art gallery (Via Solferino 44). If you turn into Via Palermo you’ll find La Pelota at n.10, a historical Fuorisalone venue where Hermès have staged a world of exquisite objects and furniture to discover. 

Nearby, Via San Marco becomes the stage for more design presentations, including a temporary showroom for rugs specialist Jan Kath (Via San Marco 12), and CTMP, a contemporary design display by auction house Cambi in collaboration with creative studio Mr Lawrence (Via San Marco 22), with an installation by Analogia Project. At the bottom of Via San Marco (Piazza San Marco, 3) is the charming Ginori 1735 showroom, which makes its debut into home fragrances with a collection designed by Luca Nichetto. Elsewhere at the Off-White flagship store (via Bigli 2), Ginori 1735 also unveils a new partnership with Virgil Abloh’s brand kicking off with a contemporary interpretation of the Antico Doccia plate collection.

Hem Milan installation with monolithic side tables by Faye Toogood
‘Stump’ tables by Faye Toogood for Hem

Swedish company Hem stages its ‘Garden & Gallery’ space (Corso Garibaldi 117) as a peaceful retreat to discover 2021 designs by Faye Toogood and Sabine Marcelis and a newly presented collection of sculptural aluminium wall hooks by Martino Gamper. Michele De Lucchi opens up his AMDL Circle space (Via Varese 15) to present new furnishing by his experimental laboratory, Produzione Privata, and his monograph alongside specially created wooden models.

Also in the area is Spazio Orso (Via dell’Orso 16), where ECAL traditionally presents its students’ and graduates’ work. For Fuorisalone 2021, students from the Media & Interaction Design programme will present ‘Fantastic Smartphones’, an investigation on the way devices impact our daily lives (the Swiss design school also collaborated with Muji exploring design for a compact life, on view at the brand’s Via Torino store). 

Furniture showroom hopping: Via Durini, Corso Monforte and Corso Venezia

Interior of Living Divani Gallery with dark surfaces and plants framing a white sofa
Living Divani Gallery. Photography: Francesco Caredda

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 Cassina and Karakter (the latter presenting Michael Anastassiades’ sofa design debut in 2021), Technogym, Giorgetti and Gallotti & Radice. At  Porro, art director Piero Lissoni stages an installation that celebrates the company’s storage systems with a design inspired by 1930 installation ‘Casa Elettrica’ at the Monza Triennale, while Natuzzi presents the latest iteration of its ‘Circle of Harmony’ project with new designs by the likes of Sabine Marcelis and Formafantasma. 

Design Holding (the company behind brands such as B&B Italia, Azucena, Maxalto, Arclinea, Flos and Louis Poulsen) is unveiling its latest showroom concept; named D Studio, it will present the brands’ collections through a multifunctional space designed by architect Massimiliano Locatelli (Via Durini 14).

Interior of D Studio Milano with furniture by Monica Armani for B&B Italia and lamps by Louis Poulsen
D Studio Milano. Photography: Matteo Imbriani

Hop onto nearby Corso Monforte to discover Flexform (presenting Antonio Citterio’s latest sofa design), Artemide, Danese, Nemo and De Padova. Also on Corso Monforte is Living Divani’s Gallery, part showroom part exhibition space designed by Piero Lissoni and expanding in 2021 with new spaces designed like terraces and mixing greenery and neon lighting. At Flos, celebrations are underway for Parentesi by Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzù (turning 50 in 2021), with new products including the ultimate minimalist uplighter by Jasper Morrison.

Don’t miss Armani Casa (Corso Venezia 14) Visionnaire (Piazza Cavour 3), Poliform (Piazza Cavour 2), and Baxter (Largo Augusto 1), the latter presenting its refined collections by the likes of Draga and Aurel, Studiopepe and Federico Peri through the immersive ‘Baxter Cinema’.

The interiors of Cassina’s Milan showroom with furniture by Tobia Scarpa
Cassina showroom in Milan, featuring ‘Soriana’ by Afra & Tobia Scarpa. Photography: Valentina Sommariva

Once you’ve had your fix of Italian furniture, head to nearby Villa Necchi for a taste of old Milan, or venture into Triangolo della Moda (the city’s fashion district), where you’ll also find Molteni & C (Corso Europa) with new pieces by Vincent Van Duysen and Jasper Morrison and a special Gio Ponti reissue, and Unifor (Corso Giacomo Matteotti 14), whose space this year is dedicated to archive designs by Aldo Rossi. Poltrona Frau’s showroom in a frescoed building (Via Manzoni 30) forms the backdrop for the Italian company’s inaugural outdoors collection, with pieces by Roberto Lazzeroni, Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, and Kensaku Oshiro as well as home fragrances by Gam Fratesi in collaboration with Acqua di Parma. 

On your wanders you are likely to bump into Gufram’s giant inflatable Super Pratone (Piazza San Fedele), the Italian brand’s way to celebrate the 50th aniversary of the Ceretti, Derossi and Rosso-designed icon and leave their radical design mark on the city.

Zona Tortona: Tortona Rocks

installation with bricks and plants by Vestre
Vestre installation by Note Design Studio

Once the epicentre of Fuorisalone, Zona Tortona fell out of favour for a while, only to be resurrected in recent years by a few exciting exhibitions by the likes of Nendo, Sony and Moooi. The main avenues here are the intersecting Via Tortona and Via Stendhal, whose large, warehouse-like spaces are particularly suited for the large-scale installations typical of Fuorisalone.

For Fuorisalone 2021, the area returns once again as ‘Tortona Rocks’, with exhibitions and installations dedicated to forward-thinking design. This year’s focus will be on Opificio 31 (Via Tortona 31), a post-industrial location where outdoor furniture company Vestre (whose sustainable factory by Bjarke Ingels was recently unveiled in the Norwegian forest) presents a new collection of pieces by René Hougaard and Alexander Qual with a set designed by Note Design Studio. Presented thorugh an immersive ‘utopia of biodiversity’, the installation is made entirely with materials recycled from Vestre’s Stockholm 2020 presentation, as an ‘enclave of greenery in which the new collection is woven into a landscape of trees, plants and flowers’.

Also at Opificio 31 is an exhibition of works by emerging Belgian designers, and an installation by Polish artist Iza Rutkowska, featuring a large-scale rocking horse, questioning traditional statues of soldiers and commanders and the messages of conquests associated with them.

5 Vie

Milanese dining room interior with bocci silver light installation over the table
Pendant light ‘100’ by Omer Arbel for Bocci

5Vie is a historical district west of Duomo, home to spaces such as showrooms for BDDW (Via Santa Marta 19/A) and Apparatus (Via Santa Marta 14), and cultural hub Piazza Gorani, which includes Riviera (Via Gorani 8), a creative space led by Italian design brand La Palma.

For 2021, 5Vie is planning a focus on designer ​​AG Fronzoni, whose essential approach will be celebrated through a series of displays that show the modernity of his cultural heritage. Other presentations in the area include exhibitions of new works by Jorge Penadés (curated by Wallpaper* Milan editor, Maria Cristina Didero) and Omer Arbel’s latest sculptural lighting for Bocci within the intimate setting of Carwan Gallery founder Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte’s private apartment.

Milan Design galleries to know

An aluminium wiggly headboard by Bethan Laura Wood for Nilufar
Bethan Laura Wood at Nilufar Depot. Photography: Angus Mills

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. For 2021, the gallery presents a boudoir-inspired collection by Bethan Laura Wood, exploring a variety of materials and techniques, an exhibition of works by Audrey Large curated by Studio Vedét. 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 and its latest offering includes works by Khaled El Mays, Federica Perazzoli, Nanda Vigo, Lina Bo Bardi, Federico Peri and Nir Meiri. 

glass desk and chair with ombre effect in red and yellow by Germans Ermics on show at Rossana Orlandi during Salone del Mobile 2021
‘Frosted Split Desk’ and ‘Frosted Ombré Glass Chair’ by Germans Ermics at Rossana Orlandi

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. For 2021, the gallery’s programming includes new collections by Nature Squared and Germans Ermics among others, with an off-site project titled ‘Guiltless Plastic’, celebrating cutting-edge designs in the material at nearby Museo Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci (Via San Vittore, 21).

Galleria Luisa Delle Piane (Via Giuseppe Giusti 24) presents imaginative furniture and objects by the likes of Andrea Branzi, Maddalena Casadei, and Franco Albini and Franca Helg. 

Other spaces to look out for include the official outpost of Memphis Milano, Post Design Gallery (Largo Treves 5), which offers historical designs as well as future explorations, and Brera gallery Dilmos, whose space is located inside a Vico Magistretti-designed building (Via San Marco 1).

Exhibition spaces in Milan: Alcova and Assab One

Stone furniture in abandoned industrial space
Agglomerati by Australian furniture maker Fred Ganim at Alcova. Photography: Piercarlo Quecchia

Curators Joseph Grima and Valentina Ciuffi launched group show ‘Alcova’ in 2019. Every year since, the project has taken over a dilapidated building somewhere in Milan, and with very little intervention the pair have staged an exhibition that takes people out of their comfort zone and into unexpected (Milanese) territories. The 2021 edition of ‘Alcova’ is going to take place just west of Milan’s centre (Via Simone Saint Bon), in a cluster of buildings immersed in an urban park, including a nunnery (pictured above) and an industrial laundry. The raw spaces that serve as backdrops to the exhibitions allow visitors to discover design with a novel approach; the exhibitions feature an array of independent talent, not to be missed. Confirmed 2021 exhibitors of ‘Alcova’ include Visionnaire, India Mahdavi with HEAD Genève, Lindsey Adelman, Objects of Common Interest, as well as Laila Gohar.

Assab One interiors
Caretto/Spagna at Assab One. Photography: Giovanni Hanninen

Elsewhere in the city, not for profit organisation Assab One was founded by Elena Quarestani as a ‘non-conventional environment for research and expression’. Every year, the industrial venue (which also hosts the newly opened Milanese outpost of Studio Formafantasma) becomes an exhibition space showcasing specially commissioned works by three creatives in different disciplines. Curated by Federica Sala, the 2021 edition of ‘1+1+1’ features installations by architects Jan de Vylder and Inge Vinck, artist Claudia Losi and botanical landscape designers Caretto/Spagna.

Exhibitions during Milan Design Week 2021

Dark interior of Triennale Design Museum with furniture and sketches by Carlo Mollino
‘Carlo Mollino. Allusioni Iperformali’ curated by Marco Sammicheli at Triennale

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: this year, Triennale hosts ‘Il Salone/La Città’, an exhibition that will highlight how the history of Salone is closely linked with the city of Milan, and an exhibition of works by Carlo Mollino (until 7 November 2021) curated by Marco Sammicheli.

Other key locations include the newly opened ADI Design Museum (Piazza Compasso d’Oro 1, a new space celebrating the history of the Compasso D’Oro design prize), Bagni Misteriosi (Via Carlo Botta 18, a rationalist swimming pool with an exhibition space and theatre nearby), and Porta Nuova (an example of urban transformation that combines contemporary architecture and green spaces).

Light installation by Michael Anastassiades at ICA Milano featuring sculptures made of bamboo and neon
Michael Anastassiades’ solo exhibition ‘Cheerfully Optimistic About the Future’ at ICA Milano, installation view

Among the art venues (whose exhibition programme usually ties in with the design crowd descending on Milan) are Pirelli HangarBicocca (Via Chiese 2), whose exhibition on Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan runs until February 2022, and Fondazione Prada (Largo Isacco 2), with its ever-growing OMA-designed complex.

installation of plants by Marcin Rusak
Marcin Rusak’s ‘Unnatural Practice’

Not far from Fondazione Prada, Milan’s ICA (Via Orobia 26) presents the first Italian solo exhibition of works by Michael Anastassiades. Titled ‘Cheerfully Optimistic About the Future’, the exhibition (8 September 2021 – 6 January 2022) focuses on the concept of handmade and collaboration though the designer’s practice. Nearby, Marcin Rusak’s ‘Unnatural Practice’ curated by Federica Sala (Ordet, Via Adige 17) explores the designer’s process of creation, showing new and archive works and also recreating some of his botanical inspirations through an installation that combines greenery and a specially-designed scent by Barnabe Fillon. §