Milan Furniture Fair: Design, Innovation and Creativity

The 58th edition of international Milan Furniture Fair just ended. What is its history and its ancillary events?

The last edition of the Milan Furniture Fair just ended with a great attendance overall. Data show that more than 380,000 visitors from 181 different countries attended across 6 days, which is a 12 percent increase compared to 2017. “This edition of the Milan Furniture Fair is ending with a very positive balance,” commented the President of the Fair, Claudio Luti. “We have invested in quality and we have once again demonstrated our desire to do even better, working closely with designers, artisans, communication and culture operators to keep making and innovating the products, and to tell stories that increase the value of the designed objects.”

History of the Fair

First launched in 1961, the Milan Furniture Fair was originally conceived as a response to the need of furnishing all the houses built after the war. Along the lines of the Koelnmesse of Cologne – a historic furniture exposition which reopened the previous year – the Milan version of the Fair was originally focused on Italian manufacturers, enhancing the many small industries distributed across the country. The success of the first edition is thanks to a group of Italian entrepreneurs who, after returning from the German event, decided to reproduce it in Italy by creating a committee and organizing the exhibition. During the first edition, 800 foreign visitors came to Milan and after a few years the Fair became international, gradually replacing the Koelnmesse.

The organization

Today, the Milan Furniture Fair is considered the most important exhibition concerning furnishing, with almost 2,500 stands every year. This event is attended by manufacturers of home furniture, coating material, household appliances, as well as by designers and new technology experts. Each category is housed in different pavilions, divided among kitchen furniture, bathroom, lighting, classic furnishing and contemporary design. Besides these, the SaloneSatellite is dedicated to emergent and innovative designers. At the same time as the Fair, every corner of Milan is full of different temporary installations united under the name Fuorisalone.

Fuori salone 2019 università statale di Milano
An installation at the University of Milan cloister during the Fuorisalone 2019

The Fuorisalone across the city

This ancillary event is not under the same organization as the Furniture fair. On the contrary, it was spontaneously launched in the early 80s by the fashion and design industry. Year after year, the Fuorisalone has become a real attraction for visitors, who in some cases prefer seeing the installations across the city than those in the single location of the Fair. Indeed, this is a unique occasion to visit some beautiful locations usually closed to the public as well as an excuse to discover different neighbourhoods of the city. Especially in the Brera, Tortona and Lambrate neighborhoods, there are many showrooms and unused industrial buildings that every year house interesting and particular expositions.

Design and sustainability

One of the most relevant and interesting themes of this year’s Fuorisalone is sustainability. To mention only a few, Timberland created a huge robot made of plastic bottles and placed it in a central square in the Brera neighborhood; the Polestar‘s installation, called “Into the Light”, reflected the positive power of electric energy instead of fuel; the Iris Ceramica Gorup organized a sensory pattern with their materials to raise awareness about the future of our planet.

Given that this is the largest trade fair of its kind, the Milan Furniture Fair is a unique opportunity not only to see such a wide array of styles of furniture and furnishings, but also to meet up-and-coming designers and see where the trends are heading.