Milan Design Week: The Largest International Trade Fair

April 7, 2017

By: Ismael Rodriguez

Every spring, for nearly six days, designers and buyers flock over to Milan, Italy, in droves for the premiere furniture trade fair in the world.

Now in its 56th year, the Salone del Mobile is expected to welcome more than 300,000 visitors from 165 countries to what’s been dubbed ‘the largest international trade fair’ in Italy, showcasing 2,100 brands from April 4 to 9. And aside from Milan Fashion Week, the Milan Design Week becomes the busiest time for this city.

“Salone del Mobile is the most important furniture fair in the world,” Marva Griffin, director of SaloneSatellite, an initiative that promotes young designers during the fair, told the press. “A lot of cities do design weeks but Milan is where they show the new products, the innovations.”

The event also represents the reach Italian’s design sector, with its 29,000 companies and 131,000 employees, has on the international market. The words ‘Made in Italy’ hold resonance amongst those appreciative of designer apparel in thefarthest countries.

Emanuele Orsini, president of FederlegnoArredo, the association in charge of organizing the fair, told the press that he expected an influx of foreign professionals this year—especially from countries that are promising for the furniture companies.

The U.S., for example, is among those countries climbing the rankings of foreign countries that import ‘Made in Italy’ furniture, placing itself behind just France and Germany last year, with $968 million in exported value—an 8.8 increase over the year before, according to Italian sources.

Another giant on the list of promising countries is China, where the general slowdown in imports has not affected its populations taste for Italian furniture. Furthermore, Italy exported $337 million worth of goods to Asia in 2016—reaching seventh place in the rankings of Italian furniture’s main export markets.

This year, Orsini expects the fair to continue indulging these countries. And with the fair’s innovative installations, new designer collections, and one-of-a-kind clashes between fashion and design, there is a possibility of extending the event’s success.

What brands to watch for at this year’s fair as provided by Vogue:

1.     Marni Playland
Marni will be transforming its space into an interactive playground called “Marni Playland.” Visitors will be met by a backdrop filled with sand—the fluid design is meant to hint at the idea that design should be more playful and without rigid rules or structure—as well as toys alongside new limited-edition handcrafted home furnishings and colorful accessories.

2.     Excavated: Eviction by Paul Cocksedge
When British designer Paul Cocksedge was evicted from his apartment because they were going to build luxury condos, he decided to make art as a reaction. In his latest project, in collaboration with Beatrice Trussardi, Excavation: Evicted, Cocksedge drilled down into the studio’s floor and ripped up the floorboards that he then transformed into five distinct furniture pieces. These works not only preserve the memory of his time at the location, but the history of the architecture as well.

3.     Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades
For the latest installment of this collection of meticulously crafted travel items, which launched in 2012, this year, look out for 10 new pieces including a hammock, deck chair, swing chair, and folding stool.

4.     Cartier Precious Garage
Designed by New York–based Puerto Rican visual artist Desi Santiago, Cartier presents a themed pop-up installation exhibition appropriating everyday hardware elements as jewelry. At “When the Ordinary Becomes Precious,” visitors can expect Cartier employees in overalls, tools mixed in with fine jewels, and one of the most striking pieces: a car hanging from the ceiling with gold oozing out of the door.

5.     Leclettico
If you’re in Milan for Design Week and you want to experience a full immersion into the design world, you should book a visit to Leclettico, a creative lab founded by Claudio Loria. Loria, just like his space, is adventurous and an unconventional design lover. Years of hard work has resulted in a seriously impressive collection of vintage and design pieces as well as a deep library of rare and impossible-to-find textiles.


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