Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2018

2018 Milan Furniture Fair, April 17-22nd

by Conyee Chan

57th edition of the Salone del Mobile.Milano: 434,509 attendees and 1841 exhibitors, in 6 days, from 188 different countries, made for a 17% increase from 2016. 57th edition of the Salone del Mobile.Milano: 434,509 attendees and 1841 exhibitors, in 6 days, from 188 different countries, made for a 17% increase from 2016.

Somehow all the stars have aligned this year in the last minute, I decided to fly to Milan on the spur of the moment to check off the very top of my to-do list for the past few decades- Milan Furniture Show (Salone Del Mobile).

Not sure what to expect, I have attended many large scale international furniture shows in US and Asia. Why is this the most talked about event in the industry of all time?

Having studied architecture and italian in Roma for a semester almost 2 decades ago, I hope I could survive with my broken Italian. Just to make sure I’m not going alone, I posted my itinerary on facebook and wechat (china’s facebook) and immediately learned friends who are designers, developers, furniture manufacturers, retailers are coming from all directions: San Francisco, Austin, Shanghai and Singapore.

As soon as I landed in the city, I realized The Milan Furniture Fair is truly the biggest celebrations in world of design. During this week, Milan, a city of 1.3 million, is flooded with over 435,00 attendees from 188 countries. Instead of paying 400-800 Euro per night, thank God I have a friend in Milan who graciously hosted me in their family apartment.

It is not just about furniture, 1400 events/art/installations celebrate innovation and trends in every corner of the city including furniture, fashion, technology, architecture, materials etc. Top brands from every industry like Prada, Moooi, to Sony and Mini Cooper, many with their own pavilions, containing special exhibits and events for duration of the week.

WeWork collaborated with HAY, the Danish design label, and speaker brand Sonos to create a pop up installation at the expansive Palazzo Clerici.

A typical day in Milan Design Week looks like this: First, recover from last night with an espresso at your new favorite street corner cafe and joke with your italian grandpa barista; Pick a design district to check out the amazing installations and pop ups; Cram in the metro for 30 mins to get to the furniture exhibition; Target your focus ( kitchen, bathroom, modern or classical furniture); Continue to walk 15 miles in and out of 24 massive exhibition halls for another 5 hours; When your legs are about to collapse, take a break in one of the restaurants; Finally 4pm get out before everyone rushes to the metro; Meet up with friends for Aperitivo + 10 other showroom parties; Crash; Repeat.

I enjoyed seeing not only innovations in design, but also the many opportunities to meet and potentially collaborate with exhibitors. I was reminded that innovation really comes in many forms, nothing too big nor too small. There are exhibitions of studies on 3-way zippers, 3 layer 3D laser cutting, “self-blooming” shading device with the Sun, as-well-as the Sony Pavilions’ 3-dimensional projector of architectural plans.

With so much to see and explore, one full week was still not enough. It is so hard to contain thousands of these brilliant ideas into 2 dimensional iphone images. I was so inspired and filled with energy and passion to design. I encourage all of you to attend at least once in a lifetime, whether you are a designer or not!

Conyee and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s BREATH, large suspended coils of a special pollution-neutralising fabric.

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