Brera Design District Brera Design District Gennaro Giancalone

A guide to Milan's Fuorisalone

Outside of the main fair exhibitions and events illuminate the city during what is known as Fuorisalone

by 08 April 2016

Any Milan insider will tell you that some of the best things to see during Salone won’t be found at the main fairground in Rho; they’ll be found in the city itself. Each year hundreds of independent events are hosted in the studios, galleries and restaurants where life really happens in Milan. This occasion is known as Fuorisalone (‘fuori’ means ‘outside’), a tradition that arose spontaneously in the early 1980s. Fuorisalone is not governed by any central organiser, and events – which range from furniture to fashion to food – are concentrated in three districts: Zona Tortona, Brera and Lambrate. Here we explore what’s happening in each.

Tortona Design Week


The lively Tortona district has been described as a ‘symbol of the process of transformation.’ This former industrial area in the south-west of the city has seen its factories transformed into shops, workspaces, galleries and showrooms. It is also famed as the home of Superstudio, a highly-regarded creative studio which took over an old bicycle factory and, in 1983, hosted the first ever Fuorisalone event.

Each year Superstudio Group (which now includes two new ventures, Superstudio 13 and Superstudio Più) hosts boundary-pushing events such as their Temporary Museum for New Design in 2014. In 2016 they return with SuperDesign Show, a concept launched in 2015 which looks to the future to discover new trends. This year’s theme is ‘White Pages,’ an open-ended exploration of design concepts for tomorrow.

Related: Zona Tortona, Milan: a guide

Brera Design District

Credits Leonardo Cristiano 07Visitors enjoying the Brera Design District

Brera is a charming, historic neighbourhood located near the Parco Sempione, and calls itself ‘Italy’s most important district for the promotion of design.’ Visitors here will find a mix of leading brands as well as temporary exhibitors, with an overall emphasis on high-end design and artisanal craftsmanship.

The events of Brera Design District are managed by Studiolabo, a communication and concept design agency. “Fuorisalone is magic,” says Paolo Casati, Creative Director of Studiolabo. “It is a big party for all. As I like to say, Fuorisalone represents to Milan what the carnival represents to Rio.”

Related: Brera, Milan: a guide

Ventura Lambrate (12 – 17 April 2016)

projectEGG 3Dutch designer Michiel van der Kley's 3D printed Project Egg at Ventura Lambrate 2015

Ventura Projects is the organisation behind Ventura Lambrate, a network of exhibitions taking place in the Lambrate district in north-east Milan. With hundreds of designers applying to take part, this is one of the best places to see unusual and innovative new work. More than 100,000 visitors passed through 176 exhibitions during the 2015 edition. This 7th edition of Ventura Lambrate features new, hidden locations and a focus on pioneering research, social design, and crossovers between the design world and other disciplines.

Related: Sustainable, responsible design: Luxury's best new trend

After 20 years, Triennale returns to Milan

TRN 19 eisenmann2Delirium, a work by the American architect Peter Eisenman, at XIX Triennale in 1996

2016 is a special year indeed, because alongside Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone the legendary International Exhibition of the Triennale di Milano (Triennale) returns in April after a 20-year hiatus. Founded in 1923, the Triennale explores ‘urgent and topical issues facing society’ through highly ambitious exhibitions that traverse multiple creative disciplines.

The overarching theme of the XXI edition of Triennale is ‘21st Century: Design after design.’ In a globalised world where the boundaries between traditional disciplines have been broken down, and where ambition, technology and internationalism have liberated designers from the rules of the past, Triennale will ‘explore the foundations of culture to come.’

For five months the Palazzo dell’Arte, home to the famous Triennale Design Museum, will be at the centre of events for the XXI Triennale. Other venues include the la Fabbrica del Vapore (Steam Factory), an art research centre for design, and HangarBicocca, a vast industrial plant dedicated to the production and display of contemporary art. Don’t miss a special exhibition at the Design Museum’s enormous Curve gallery linked to the Salone del Mobile, entitled ‘Rooms: New Domestic Landscapes.’ The exhibition features 11 leading designers each articulating their vision of interior architecture in the home. XXI Triennale di Milano, 2 April – 12 September 2016

Related: De Ponte Studio Architects at Milan Design Week

1 Brera Design District
2 Zona Tortona
3 Lambrate District
4 La Triennale di Milano