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A City Transformed: Why Milan’s Salone del Mobile is an Event Like No Other

Now that the dust has settled, I have had pause to reflect on this year’s Salone del Mobile. The global design phenomenon is an established pilgrimage for design devotees, a crucible where the future of living is forged. Each year, I look forward to the event – a chance to witness the spirit and ingenuity of design translated into the tangible and experiential. 

Yet it is the city itself that fuels the experience. Milan is a fascinating paradox. Here, history whispers from every cobbled street, yet a relentless current of progressive design surges through its veins. The audacious show from Alcolva reflected this, taking over two architectural landmarks – Villa Bagatti Valsecchi and Villa Borsanin – and turning them into immersive installations with over 70 exhibitors spread across the heritage buildings.  

It’s no coincidence that the city, with its immense beauty and manufacturing legacy, boomed after the war to become the epicenter of design. This legacy continues – and designers and makers still see Salone as the prime platform to launch projects and ventures since its inception in 1961.  

Milan, during design week, is transformed. Every street, every neighborhood, vibrates with a shared passion for the fair. You won’t find this kind of raw, unconstrained energy anywhere else.  

Major names, small studios and independent creators alike weave their magic into unexpected corners – a lobby here, a hidden courtyard there. It’s an urban playground, where even a neglected loading bay becomes a potential canvas, as we saw with the spectacular new venue for Baranzate Ateliers, the design show by Zaventem Ateliers which hosted 30 Belgian design studios in a 1950s industrial building.  

Yes, there is an increasing perception that bloggers and influencers have started to overrun the event. But perhaps that’s an inevitable byproduct of its success. After all, the sheer volume of creativity on display is intoxicating. Milan embraces it all – including the democratisation of design through social media. 

So, for me, Salone del Mobile is still the most exciting space to rub shoulders with fellow architects and designers, sharing insights and sparking collaborations. With Milan providing the perfect backdrop for unfettered intellectual exchange and the chance to collectively propel the discourse on the future of living spaces.   



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