Fuorisalone and the invention of the never-ending lifestyle expo

Welcome to the Fuorisalone, which, from 15 to 21 April 2024, while the 2024 edition of the Salone del Mobile took place at Fiera Milano Rho, redefined – as every year and more than every year – the creative coordinates of Milan and beyond. A glittering wunderkammer dedicated to the culture of design, which over time has become an instrument of urban education in beauty  


His name is Wild Kong. He is one metre and eighty centimetres tall. He is completely blue, an electric blue called Mick. It stands in Milan at Via Verri 7, in the heart of the fashion quadrilateral, in front of the Hublot showcase, a luxury watchmaking brand controlled by LVMH. It is a sculpture by Richard Orlinski, a French artist known for his pop style and particular chromatic expressiveness. Wild Kong is not there by chance, and not only because of the long-standing creative and collaborative relationship that exists between Hublot and Orlinski.

A little over a kilometre further on – a quarter of an hour’s good walk – at the Galleria Deodato Arte in Via Nerino 1, Orlinski is the protagonist of a solo exhibition entitled ‘The Wild Odyssey’. In this artistic presence, in its proposing itself as a public and gallery installation, in its circumnavigating and traversing the heart of a dispersive and complex metropolis like Milan, we can discover and observe the sense of a wunderkammer that, over the years, has become a veritable never-ending lifestyle expo. Welcome to the Fuorisalone, which, from 15 to 21 April, while the 2024 edition of the Salone del Mobile took place at Fiera Milano Rho, redefined – as every year, more than every year – the creative coordinates of the city. And not only.

Just a detail

Telling what happened in these seven days in Milan is impossible. Too many events, too many projects, and installations have lit up the city, sowing kilometre-long queues in every street in the centre and beyond. But this is just a detail that brings back memories of the endless waits for access to the national pavilions of the 2015 Expo. To focus attention on the 500 people who, on the morning of Saturday, 20 April, waited in Piazza San Babila for their turn to receive the Gucci-branded tulip and material from the Gucci Ancora collection would lead any reflection astray.

The never-ending lifestyle expo

The birth of the Fuorisalone can (perhaps) be traced back to 1981 when the Alchimia and Memphis projects showed their installations in urban locations alternative to the Salone del Mobile fairs, the first edition of which was held in 1961. Since the early 1980s, but especially in the last twenty years, Fuorisalone has literally and progressively colonised the city, growing steadily, organic to its creative mission, and explosive in numbers.

Today, in 2024, never before as in past years, Fuorisalone has involved any reality capable of expressing a ‘design’ identity and, in doing so, has broken down ‘design frontiers’ by building links, contaminations, artistic opportunities that have transformed it into a never-ending lifestyle expo. Luxury and fashion brands cannot help but be proactive in all this. As well as many other brands that, only in appearance, could be considered distant from this atmosphere that moves on the borderline between art and architecture, fashion and design, creativity, lifestyle and – above all – design culture.

Chi Non Ci è Non Ci sarà

The criticism of all this is straightforward. We can summarise it with the payoff of an old trade fair event held at Bolognafiere, the Futur Show: Chi Non C’è Non Ci Sarà. Being present at the Fuorisalone can be seen as a duty, an act of marketing, and a need for communication. And it certainly is (also) so. But find an event where anyone – in the sense of anyone who decides to walk the streets of the city and let themselves be carried away by the flow and curiosity – can admire Bottega Veneta staging a collaborative project with Cassina and Fondation Le Corbusier. Or get lost in the perception of colour of Google’s ‘Making Sense of Colour’ installation. Be amazed at the entrance to Palazzo Litta by the site-specific installation “StraordinAria”, curated by the Japanese we+ for the Fondazione Ermanno Casoli of Elica.

It is getting lost in the courtyards of the Università Statale among projects redefining spaces and their meaning, including an installation by Amazon. Experiencing the manipulation of ‘leather material’ with Ecco. Discover a monumental installation of the highest craftsmanship in fused glass – ‘Porta’ – created by Lasvit and set up in the courtyard of Palazzo Isimbardi. Be thrilled in Piazza San Fedele by observing the ten totems of the Second Life public exhibition, created by ten designers who reused the trunks of trees felled by the storm that brought Milan and its hinterland to its knees in July 2023. We could go on for hours, but we don’t. If you haven’t been to Milan for the Fuorisalone, try surfing Google, bearing in mind that for a few hours, you will have (quite a lot) to do.

Educating for beauty

We are left with an observation. We make it as we arrive, still in Milan, in Piazza Duca d’Aosta. Here, in front of the facade of the Central Station (for a period longer than the Fuorisalone week), a gigantic installation stands out. A colossal trompe l’œil, signed by French artist JR, entitled “La Nascita” (The Birth). As the Abitare magazine explains, it is “an anamorphosis, i.e. a particular type of perspective that can only be correctly perceived from a precise point marked on the square.

Giant images printed on aluminium panels create the illusion of a tunnel dug into the rock, a reference to the work on the Simplon tunnel, a futuristic infrastructure at the time (it was 1906) that allowed faster connections with the countries beyond the Alps. On a design level, this is a way of ‘underlining the link and continuity between MiArt – International Fair of Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Week’, which has been taking place in Milan in recent weeks. To us, it seems, like much of the Fuorisalone, a voluntary and unconscious way of educating a city about beauty. Because beauty may not save us, but having it in front of our eyes all the time can certainly improve us.

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