As Rue‘s Market Editor I have the pleasure of traveling to many design events around the world: in New York, in Atlanta, North Carolina, Las Vegas, Paris and now, Milan. I had yet to experience the powerhouse that is Salone del Mobile, hearing other editors say things like, “it will blow you away…” But the vagueness of how I was going to be “blown away” always eluded me. Could an expo show, with the same concept of pavilions and stands, be that different from the others I had been to? Undoubtedly it is. And here’s why:

The first thing that stands out to me about Milan Design Week is how design is treated almost like an art-form. Sure, thousands of people come from all over the world to do business, but the brands that show their collections treat this event almost like an art exhibition. Furniture, bathrooms, and kitchens are treated as artwork, with unusual display concepts behind them and lots of effort and money invested to impress. The Molteni&C stand, for example, was as large as an actual home and had almost as much interior architecture applied to it. Vincent Van Duysen is their Creative Director, and not only had furniture pieces showing at the stand but designed the whole space himself, including limewash finished walls, parquet flooring, and built-in closets. 

Secondly, while other design weeks have some events happening around the city as well as at the expo-center, downtown Milan is completely packed with events, showrooms, and exhibits – known as “Fuorisalone”. Everyone that visits spends at least one full day skipping the fair and perusing the showrooms around the city.

Finally, Salone seems to be the design event with the best networking opportunities available. Whereas others were equally packed with important people from the industry, Salone seems to be the time when those same people are interested in networking. I found myself meeting such a wide array of professionals in design all looking to make more contacts and excited to discuss what had been seen that day, in a casual, authentic way.

These are three things that make Milan Design Week stand out… but let’s get to the actual design. Click on the slideshow to see some of my favorite finds!