Fuorisalone 2023: there’s more to the fair than meets the eye

The design week transforms Milan into a whirlwind of events, exhibitions, and special installations featuring both the top names of the design scene and experimental design research. Here is our (short) guide to the must-sees in town.
The design week transforms Milan into a whirlwind of events, exhibitions, and special installations featuring both the top names of the design scene and experimental design research. Here is our (short) guide to the must-sees in town.

The countdown to the most creative week of the year is about to end: Fuorisalone 2023 runs from April 17 to April 23 in Milan, with hundreds of small and big events enlivening every nook and cranny of the city. Among downtown locations, the by now established design districts, and also ‘off-circuit’ venues hosting the top names of the design scene, it is truly difficult to find one’s way among the myriad openings and events. 

There is a lot of excitement about new lighting products, and lighting brands have kept both their new issues and how they will be showcased almost shrouded in mystery. Of course, the Corso Monforte showrooms will open their doors to present their latest new additions – Artemide, Flos, but also Luceplan, Platek, Nemo and Foscarini – the latter featuring the installation (IM)POSSIBLE NATURE, a wild garden designed by Ferruccio Lavia*ni. Davide Groppi will animate the Spazio Esperienze in via Medici 13 with Vis à Vis, an installation focused on his experimental research whose details are still ‘top secret’. The German brand Occhio has chosen Villa Necchi Campiglio as the venue for an installation of the new lamps designed by Axel Maise, the brand’s founder. Other highlights worth discovering are the Living Vibes installation curated by Stefano Boeri Interiors for iGuzzini in Via Palermo 11, and the Deltalight installation at the company’s Italian headquarters in the Tortona district.

A must-see is Ingo Maurer’s light installation at the Porta Nuova former toll booth in Piazza Principessa Clotilde. Under the monumental arches of the building, a suspended reflecting structure absorbs the colours and light of the surroundings and reflects back its own interpretation, redesigning the building by day and at sunset by means of a sophisticated lighting scheme. Another gem is the collective exhibition Desacralized, held at the deconsecrated church of San Vittore and the 40 Martyrs in viale Lucania 18; curated by Galerie Philia, it is a reflection on the loss of sacrality and it features big names of the design industry like Studiopepe and Rick Owens.

1. Visual by Ingo Mauer

Alcova, an ongoing exhibition project devised and curated by Joseph Grima and Valentina Ciuffi now at its fifth edition, never ceases to surprise. As in previous editions, its format consists of showcasing the most hardcore international experimental design research in an abandoned place worth (re)discovering: this year’s venue is the former abattoir in Viale Molise 62. International names and avantgarde creativity are also featured at the Galleria Rossana Orlandi exhibition in via Matteo Bandello 14. It is focused on plastic materials and how they lend themselves to endless eco-friendly and time-enduring transformations.

2. Alcova by Joseph Grima and Valentina Ciuffi - ph. Federico Floriani

Other exhibitions worth visiting include Triennale’s tribute to the Droog Design designer collective, which turns thirty this year; Reformig Future, an anthology celebrating the work of Michele De Lucchi and Andrea Branzi as part of a wider event called Design Variations 2023 held at the brutalist building that houses Istituto Marchiondi Spagliardi in the Baggio neighbourhood; and the first all-colourful solo exhibition of Constance Guisset’s work at Institut Français Milano. Another 2023 comeback is Masterly, The Dutch in Milano, a project featuring the best from the Netherlands at Palazzo dei Giureconsulti, just off the Duomo cathedral.

Fuorisalone is all about the design districts, where exhibitions and special initiatives are showcased in showrooms. The Brera Design District, which boasts the highest concentration of design stores in the world, will host several events under the umbrella title The future is now. Highlights include artist Agostino Iacurci’s exhibition held in cooperation with glo™ at the tower in Largo Treves 1, and Solid Nature’s installation assembled by OMA (Rem Koolhaas’s architecture studio) in the courtyard of a private house in via Cernaia. The agenda is being constantly updated and new surprises are undoubtedly in store. Milan’s old beating heart – the 5vie (five streets) – is joining the Fuorisalone for the tenth time with events taking place under the umbrella title Design for Good, which explores opportunities to create human relationships through design via the traditional mix of skilful craftsmanship, art and participative events. A paramount example is Seletti’s Design Parade. The former industrial area of Tortona between Base and Superstudio, and the Isola Design District, are also worth a visit. For those who wish to see the new products of major brands, the perfect destination is the Durini Design District next to Piazza San Babila. 

3. Dry Days, Tropical Nights by Agostino Iacurci per glo™

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