Milan Furniture Fair starts Monday with luxury, fashion centre stage
For a week, all eyes will be on Milan and its famous Design Week, which begins on Monday April 17 in an atmosphere of unprecedented enthusiasm. The event’s 61st edition will end on Sunday April 23, and is marking a return to normality, after the fair was cancelled in 2020, and then the low-key edition in 2021 and last year's edition being postponed to June. As many as 330,000 visitors are expected, a huge audience that the fashion and luxury sectors are more than ever ready to win over.
In its early days in the 1960s, the event was simply a furniture trade fair, but over the years it has morphed into a directional design festival, with visitors growing from 200,000 twenty years ago to 500,000 in 2019, prior to the pandemic. As a fully fledged design week, the event revolves around the Salone del Mobile, the furniture fair held at the Rho Fiera exhibition centre on the outskirts of Milan with nearly 2,000 exhibitors, and the FuoriSalone, a parallel calendar featuring over 800 events scattered across the city, where the number of districts with a special focus on design has increased from seven to 10 this year.
Fashion labels are featured in FuoriSalone, having set up Milano Moda Design, their own design week, in 2007, via the Italian Fashion Chamber (CNMI). This year’s calendar is especially busy, with 30 labels involved in 56 events, between furniture line presentations and special initiatives. Exhibitions, collaborations with top designers, happenings, conferences and cocktail parties: even if they do not have a home collection, most labels exploit the Milan Design Week as a visibility opportunity.
All the top luxury labels will participate, from Italy and abroad. Starting with Hermès, which is going back to La Pelota, a long-established venue that hosted Basque pelota tournaments until 1997, home to the French label’s home decoration collections since 2019. After moving to its new Garage Traversi venue last year, Louis Vuitton is back at Palazzo Serbelloni with the Objets Nomades line and a special project in collaboration with Marc Newson.
Dolce & Gabbana is taking part in Milan Design Week with its brand-new Gen D project, a residency for 10 emerging designers selected by the label from all over the world, to familiarise themselves with Italian craftsmanship and give free rein to their creativity. Bottega Veneta is letting artist Gaetano Pesce take over the via Montenapoleone store, where Pesce has created an immersive installation showcasing several new handbags inspired by his work. Giorgio Armani is exhibiting the Armani Casa home line at its historic headquarters in Palazzo Orsini for the first time.
Dior is again showcasing its collaboration with Philippe Starck. Brioni has reopened for the occasion its store in via del Gesù. Elie Saab will unveil its new home decoration collection in five different venues. Etro is presenting the first furniture collection designed by creative director Marco de Vincenzo. Jimmy Choo has partnered with Murano glassware master Venini, which has created a line of vases displayed at the footwear label’s Milanese flagship. These are just a few examples of the plethora of initiatives staged by fashion labels for Milan Design Week.
Smaller labels are also taking an active part in the event with their own projects, like the colourful resin sculptures presented by designer Carolina Castiglioni’s Plan C label. Leather goods brand Serapian has created a special installation with designer Gabrielle Crespi. Benetton is opening a pop-up store with a collection of home linen and household accessories. Timberland is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its iconic work boot with an exhibition at the Milan Triennale, and Fila the 50th anniversary of its signature logo with an AI-inspired experience. These are some of the occasions that will enliven a Milan Design Week that promises to be especially intense.
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