After many years of friends inviting me to Milan for The Salone Del Mobile, this year I finally decided to spend a weekend there and enjoy this amazing show! The Salone del Mobile is held in a stunning complex designed by the Italian Architect Massimiliano Fuksas which incorporates a number of pavilions totalling 345,000 sq m, 3,700,000 sq ft – and is the largest and most important furniture / trade fair in the world.
I woke up on Saturday morning to the most glorious Milanese Spring day, brilliant blue sky and warm sunshine and headed to “Bastianello” in Via Borgogna for my cappuccino and croissant before jumping onto the Metro at San Babila to Rho, the home of the “Fiera” (a journey which took 25 minutes)
Once arrived at “The Fiera” the access was quick and easy and the first thing that struck me was the immense size of the place (imagine the Excel centre in London x 3½). We were given a map with a layout of the exhibition dividing the buildings; Modern, Classic, Design, International Lighting. I thought it was best to plan at this stage as it would be impossible to see all in one day so headed to Design. Immediately I was fronted with familiar names that I see every day working in Clerkenwell – Vitra, Knoll, and Arper.
I stopped at many of the stands, offering goodie bags and wonderful brochures and was then delighted to bump into a friend who is now working for Moroso in London, who had one of the largest stands exhibiting items from well known designers such as Carlo Colombo, Enrico Franzolini and Toshiyuki Kita. Moroso is a new addition to the Clerkenwell scene with a new show room on Rosebery Avenue in London EC1. The next few hours I wondered from vast room to vast room coming across many well know names such as Cappellini, Fritz Hansen, Kartell, Missoni Home, Eileen Gray and Poltrona Frau to name just a few. By late afternoon I headed back to the Centre of Milan stopping off for a panzerotto at Luini, a well know bar opposite the Duomo.
The following day we headed towards an area in the South West of Milan called Navigli for the last day of the furniture show. Perhaps to an outsider coming to this part of Milan for the first time you feel as if you could be in Venice. The construction of these canals in the early 1100’s and later developed in the 15th Century with the help of Leonardo Da Vinci created one of Italy’s largest inland ports. The canals are fronted by wonderful artisan shops selling great furniture from the 50’, 60’ and 70’s – if you are very lucky this is where you can find an original piece of Fornasetti. Moving towards Porta Genova to Via Tortona the area has a distinct feel of Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and Spitalfields all rolled into one also starting its revival of loft living in the 1980’s. Showrooms, advertising studio’s, eclectic shops and architectural practices are flanked by some of Milan’s biggest names such as Armani Teatro and the chic Boutique hotel Magna Pars.
Old warehouse spaces were transformed on Sunday into what felt like the Farmiloe Building on St John Street in Clerkenwell, with young designers exhibiting in “Designersblock Milano” which is a magnificent 7,000 Square Metre warehouse. My last stop was the Armani Teatro, formerly the Nestle factory which the well-known architect Tadao Ando has re-designed for Giorgio Armani which show cased the Armani Casa collection. The space is breathtaking with a 100 meter walk way encased in concrete with the occasional floor to ceiling opening which draws the eye to calming water over black pebbles. For me this was the highlight of the weekend with a combination of the most luxurious fabric and minimalist ultra refined furniture.
Overall the most gratifying weekend and an exhibition I would certainly recommend for the furniture enthusiast, showcasing some extremely well know classics, ultra modern and high designs. I will certainly be visiting again next year but due to the size of the event will spend a few more days next time in this amazing City.
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