You’re walking and you suddenly stumble across a methacrylate sofa in the middle of the street. You turn the corner and a Michelin dummy shaped robot starts chasing you. And before you know it, you bump into a live band show (battery, keys and singer) inside a sixties Volkswagen just teletransported from Woodstock. What in heaven’s name is going on? You are at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the annual furniture expo of Milan. Yes, I said furniture. Does my description not fit into your idea of a furniture expo? You’re right: it doesn’t.
The Salone Internazionale del Mobile is the best opportunity to get a taste of the Italian style (a mix of dolce vita, aesthetic concerns and freedom of expression other countries would die for) and to soak in the creative potential of a race that, not only invents a pair of shoes that breathe, but also sells it to half the world as if it were a vital necessity. They are the masters of creativity and furbizia.
Even the expo itself doesn’t deliver what one would expect. Far from being and innocuous venue full of bathroom sink models, comfortable coils and monotonous magazine type living rooms, what one finds there is a spectacular setting more akin to a film set in many cases. Huge spaces that recreate environments down to the last detail in many cases (the tea room according to Vitra even had a white rabbit under the table, maybe Alicia was signing autographs at that moment) or product expositions behind a show window coloured with rose petals, following a curtain made of millions of small light bulbs or veiled under a backlit mirror that has what seems to be a Sleepy Hollow type town silhouette on top. They say the eye sees what it wants to see, don’t they? Well this is what mine saw 😉The fuorisalone is everything that happens outside that mega venue, the guerrilla marketing of the Lombardy city. You have temporary shops, ephemeral spaces, product sampling carts strolling around the city, works of art in the middle of the street, sheds converted into museums with the best of international young design. An incitement overdose is unavoidable. During a whole week, the city proudly displays its talent knowing that even the half numb’s mouth will drop open, something which the people of Milan strongly take advantage of, exaggerating even more their gattopardo attitude.
What a wonderful sensation to feel the Campari running through the veins, vero? This is what a woman –bon vivant in her fifties- was telling her friend at Leonardo, in the great Via Aurelio Saffi. It was 8 in the evening and they were enjoying their daily sacred apperitivo.