Pre-iSaloni 2012 | Milan Musings

2012 will be my 6th year at the Milan iSaloni furniture fair. I am travelling with Niels Bendtsen who is at his 47th fair…

Milan design week is exhausting and energizing, foggy and sunny, trend-setting and too-trendy, long days, short nights.

A typical day starts with an early breakfast at the Hotel Cavour with fair maps and daytimer calendars plotting how we will be splitting up some meetings and getting together for others. A 15 minute walk through Giardini Pubblici to the Palestro Metro station is probably the only pause for air in the day before we board the already-jampacked train enroute to the fairgrounds.


The Rho fairgrounds are massive. 24 halls stretch across a kilometer-long central walkway. Half of the halls are filled with rolled-arm neo-classical, made-in-China furniture from my nightmares, leaving about 10-12 halls of modern design to cover in just under a week.

Entering the fair and a sea of industry peers, in the Fiera Milano Rho.

Tokujin Yoshioka at the Kartell showroom, Nendo being interviewed by ID Magazine, Tom Dixon at Superstudio Piu

The first couple of days always have the most action with the celebrity international designers doing the rounds to present their new designs in the booths of the manufacturers that have hired them. We chatted with Konstantin Grcic at Vitra, and saw him again at BD Barcelona, Classicon, and Plank. The Bouroullec brothers were hanging out at Vitra and Magis. Patricia Urquiola was at Moroso and B&B and then did a talk at Andreu World.
It’s a lot to take in, but Nancy always says that once you’ve seen the Poliform, B&B, Flexform, and Frau Group showrooms you’ve seen the best, so the rest is in perspective.

By 5 o’clock my dogs are dead-tired as we jam our way into the Metro sardine can back downtown.

Part of the Inform team: Nancy, Niels and Paul checking out the Swarovski installation.

The schedule for a typical night goes like this: post-fair cocktail parties at a couple showrooms; Antonio Citterio is at Flos, Tokujin Yoshioka is being interviewed at Moroso, and Jaime Hayon was hanging out at Baccarat; followed by a late dinner at La Libera and then usually a couple more showroom parties where we likely end up at a place like Bar Basso where mostly Dutch, Belgian, and American design-industry revelers spill far out onto the adjacent sidewalks and street. Marcel Wanders talks to us with Michael Young. Designers for Extremis, Arco, and Moooi take turns in line for drinks with us.

Lovely visuals showing a more personal side of Milan during the fair. A short film by Giuseppe Vetrano.

After dragging back to the hotel room at 1am, the work day is just wrapping up 9 hours behind in Vancouver, so there is an inbox full of emails to sort through. In the morning after breakfast I will rent a bike to go around downtown for meetings at some of the showrooms and to visit the Zona Tortona Design district where we will have lunch with Tom Dixon, high-five Marcel again at Superstudio Piu, and go see the Bocci exhibit at the quirky Spazio Rosanna Orlandi. These are the days where I feel like a local in Milan. I’m absolutely exhausted but can’t wait to get up in 5 hours to do it all over again.

(clockwise) Nancy chatting with Alfredo Haberli, Antonio Citterio at the Flos party, Paul with Michael Young and Marcel Wanders at Bar Basso, Konstantin Grcic at the Vitra booth, Jaime Hayon at the Baccarat party.


The buzz for this year’s fair is building online. Here are some of the previews that I am especially excited about:

Tom Dixon:








Stay tuned for dispatches from the fair and a recap after I return (and catch up on my sleep).

– Written by Paul who manages the new Inform Contract showroom, opening soon at 405 Railway St, Vancouver.

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