Your Essential Guide To FuoriSalone, Milan, 2024

  • 29 Mar '24
  • 4:03 pm by Virender Singh

Milan’s cobbled alleyways are filled with palpable excitement once again. From a minimalist garage overlooking Darsena Lake to historic palazzi, these seemingly disparate neighbourhoods shall be tuned into the euphoria of Milan Design Week between the 16th and 21st of April this year. 

An asteroid belt of pop-up exhibits and independent galleries cumulatively known as Fuorisalone that sprung up as a fringe novelty in the 80s, orbiting around the celestial giant of Salone del Mobile, is lauded today for having drawn thoughtful design culture from stifling expo spaces out into the streets. ‘Materia Natura’ is the theme of this edition, copacetic with the trajectory that most creative thinkers and legendary brands are following in modern times, towards a utopian future where sustainability is not just lip service. DP curates a list of some events one cannot miss at Fuorisalone this year.

Left: Villa Bagatti Valsecchi’s portico is noteworthy for standing on 15th-century columns salvaged from Milan’s Lazaretto plague hospital, Right: Villa Borsani, completed in 1945, is a masterpiece of Modernist residential architecture. Image Credits – Piergiorgio Sorgetti

#1 Alcova To Unfold Inside Heritage Architecture

Since its inception in 2018, Alcova has been a whirlwind of lectures, visual narratives, and conceptual artwork decimating any amateur notions you might have of what a design fair looks like. Founded by Joseph Grima (Space Caviar) and Valentina Ciuffi (Studio Vedèt), this nomadic exhibition has developed a taste for off-the-grid locales. Previous venues include a 1950s motel in Miami, an ex-military hospital, including — eerily enough, a slaughterhouse.

Steeped in reverence for forgotten Milanese grandeur, Alcova 2024 will be inhabiting two landmark villas poised at the fulcrum of past and present.  As in previous editions, Villa Borsani and Villa Bagatti Valsecchi will be brought to life by Alcova’s unique curated selection of experimental designers. Villa Borsani, originally built by architect Osvaldo Borsani as a family house during WWII, incorporates richly layered modernist elements such as its P40 loungers or the Lucio Fontana ceramic fireplace. Villa Bagatti Valsecchi is one the most significant examples of 19th-century villa architecture in Lombardy.


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The “Lines of Flight” installation by design collective Numen/For Use. Image Credits – Brera Design District

#2 Brera Design District – Keeping Art Interactive

Usurping antique showrooms, studios, and even apartments, Brera Design District will again be the driving force behind transformative collaborations. Vivid mise-en-scènes of furniture and lighting by Draga & Aurel, i29 and Neri&Hu for Valcucine, and Ronan Bouroullec for Mutina are not to be missed. Experiential installations such as ‘Lines of Flight’ by Numen/For Use in homage to Porsche and the forest bathing phenomenon simulated by high-precision watch brand Grand Seiko will be dissipating the air of secrecy around monumental art, making it more accessible and egalitarian.

Tortona will feature (as always) a rich programme of performative sculptures, multicolour installations, and more. Image Credits – Tortona Design Week

#3 Tortona Design Week Explores Nature vs Nurture

Fragmented into individual entities, the Tortona district is a delightful smorgasbord as always, except this time we are promised even more dynamic synergy between craftsmanship and technology. A never-before-witnessed sensory melange called the ‘Iron Garden Project’ will epitomise how nature and artificial intelligence can conspire to change the face of urban landscaping

Another site-specific installation titled ‘Flowair’ by Ingo Maurer is mesmerising in depicting patterns of light and moving air that we tend to ignore amidst the chaos of our busy lives.

Gunjan Gupta’s body of work is deeply embedded in distinct Indian rituals and utility. Image Credits – 5VIE

#4 5Vie Art+Design Goes Multicultural

Returning for its 11th Edition, 5VIE Art+Design is a cultural initiative that has upheld suzerainty between the holy triumvirate of Corso Magenta, Sant’Ambrogio, and the Colonne di San Lorenzo. This year, there’s a new venue added to their itinerary, the baroque Palazzo Litta dating from the Spanish reign of the city. A solo show of interest, Gunjan Gupta’s Indian Tiny Mega Store is already gathering quite the buzz, for its inimitable assortment of glasses and tableware that reminisce upon iconic South Asian artisanry. With a specific focus on one-offs and treasured ephemera, 5VIE remains a point of reference for the international design community at large.


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Gufram is present at the Triennale as the apogee of radical design, produced since 1966. Image Credits – Gufram

#5 The Triennale Milano

Reinvigorated after acquiring Cuore, a new research space at the Palazzo dell’Arte, the programme at The Triennale Milano this year is all set to present some unprecedented tributes. Among them is the ‘Design Metaphors’ series that swings a spotlight at some previously unreleased photographs by Italian architect and polymath Ettore Sottsass. Also on stage is the permanent exhibition ‘Museo del Design Italiano’ that catalogues a century of real interior environments that take you back in time, building a vertical insight into Italian history. From the clothes stand ‘Rossocactus’ to the stackable chair ‘Canguro’, furniture collectibles by Gufram are keystone pieces in their inventory.

Rossana Orlandi has rebranded herself as a spirit guide for contemporary designers. Image Credits – Guido Castagnoli

#6 Rossana Orlandi

A visit to Rossana Orlandi’s gallery during Milan Design Week is indispensable. The godmother of lateral thinking and eco-friendly materiality, Orlandi has been responsible for conceiving many objets d’art that defy convention. She began with small pieces that were moulded as an aesthetic response to how objects confer with each other outside of time and space. Slowly, she has leaped into prominence as an unlikely custodian of young, budding designers and artisanal brands. Exhibiting at Orlandi’s colossal, 19,000-square-foot space has become sacrosanct in the Milanese counterculture.

Dutch flowers are found in full bloom all around the palazzo, softening the archaic columns with their beauty. Image Credits – MASTERLY

#7 Masterly — The Dutch in Milano

Coming back to Fuorisalone for its 8th Edition, Masterly amalgamates a robust coterie of Dutch designers, craftsmen, and companies at the Palazzo Giureconsulti. The location serves as an integral part of the visitors’ experience: the installations merge with its halls, elevated by its architecture and all its original details. A.I. reappears as a motif here too, curiously personalised in the ‘Every Human Algorithmic Perfumery’ project, where algorithms fed into their database yield an exclusive fragrance for each participant. 

Other jaw-dropping creations you must remember to check out: 3D printed customisable decor by Aectual, recycled light sculptures by Lucas Zito, and reclaimed wood chairs by Primo Arets inter alia. The project ROOTS by Simone van Es, an exhibition within Masterly, deserves its chapter. It underscores the commitment of several artists and designers to the pressing environmental crisis and serenades the intrinsic beauty of the earth. Interweaving tradition with technical finesse, events like Masterly are what encapsulate the resilience and versatility of Milan Design Week.