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Published by Sugar & Cream, Wednesday 10 April 2024

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Milan Design Week April 15-21, 2024

From April 15 to April 21, Milan steps into the limelight of the global design arena with a bustling line-up of events, exhibitions, and installations. Designers, architects, schools, universities, and institutions come together to share ideas that shape our present with a keen eye on the future of our environment. The practices of design play a pivotal role in cultivating a culture of mindful design, emphasizing sustainability as a core principle and essential value in the creative process. This ethos is beautifully encapsulated in the theme “Materia Natura” for this year’s edition.

Centered on principles of circular economy, reuse, and sustainable practices and materials, Fuorisalone will be held as usual in conjunction with the Salone del Mobile.Milano, which this year celebrates its 62nd edition.

Nature takes center stage in the 2024 edition: with “Materia Natura,” Fuorisalone encourages a deep exploration of the connection between these two words, presented through a visually captivating campaign curated by Nicola Ricciardi and conceived by EX. (Andrea Cassi, Michele Versaci) and Giorgio Ferrero (MYBOSSWAS), resulting in a series of five subjects.

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Reflections on matter and attempts to transform it have long been central to human culture, which studies, experiments, and manipulates it to interpret the relationship with the natural world. However, it is within the human sphere that these notions converge and harmonize, blending seamlessly with each other. The term “natura” (- nature) is a strong reminder of the most pressing and current issues we face today, emphasizing the critical need to advocate for initiatives geared towards more sustainable and environmentally conscious solutions. At the same time, the term “materia” (- matter) initiates and sustains a natural conversation with design, creative thinking, strategic planning, and the propensity to imagine infinite and possible transformations.

Materia Natura” thus becomes the central interpretative key for Fuorisalone, enabling to observe and map the initiatives that, during the Design Week 2024 will give rise to new languages and visions regarding the actions that design is capable of activating in the context of a radical rethinking of the relationship between humans and the environment they inhabit.

The theme “Materia Natura” builds upon previously explored concepts and serves as an extension of past Fuorisalone themes such as “Forme dell’Abitare”, “Tra Spazio e Tempo” e “Laboratorio Futuro”. This thematic continuity delineates a trajectory that upholds the values of a mindful design culture. “Materia Natura” further amplifies and deepens this vision, emphasizing sustainability as a guiding principle and essential virtue in the creative and design process.

“Fuorisalone provides a platform for free expression and dialogue, nurturing critical discussions about the role of design across all its facets. Today, nature emerges as a paramount source of inspiration, one that necessitates collective stewardship. This ethos underpins the selection of our theme, where ‘matter’ encompasses knowledge, culture, and expertise, while ‘nature’ encompasses space, time, and resources. Uniting these dimensions is crucial for shaping our present and securing a sustainable future,” declares Paolo Casati, Co-founder and Creative Director of Studiolabo.

POV: the artwork that becomes the defining image of Fuorisalone 2024

In an effort to enhance the pervasive nature of the underlying theme, “Materia Natura,” Fuorisalone enlisted Nicola Ricciardi, the Artistic Director of miart, to curate the visual interpretation of the theme. This resulted in a fruitful collaboration with EX., a multidisciplinary research and design group blending art, landscape, technology, and architecture, under the guidance of architects Andrea Cassi and Michele Versaci, alongside Giorgio Ferrero (MYBOSSWAS).  POV is a photographic and audiovisual piece composed of five different scenarios that delve into the delicate relationship between humans and the environment. These scenarios portray: a piece of wood from Val Susa, a block of ice, a block of lava stone, a block of marble, and a slate slab. These five elements – selected to illustrate the multitude and complexity of matter and nature – symbolize the profound impact of human activity on the environment, visibly marked by the transformative actions that turn natural materials into objects. This juxtaposition of manipulated elements underscores the disparity between human intervention and the inherent natural essence.

The result is an artificial effect derived from a natural principle. “We explored the relationship between matter and nature, while simultaneously questioning the nature of matter,” state the authors.
Ultimately, this process is captured through a unique perspective, utilizing ultraviolet lights imperceptible to the human eye, thereby creating alternative imagery. In this exploration, the realm of science plays a significant role, as the three authors utilized UV lights to generate diverse colors corresponding to different wavelengths, thereby expanding the theme of perception and challenging conventional viewpoints. The result is an artificial effect derived from a natural principle. “We explored the relationship between matter and nature, while simultaneously questioning the nature of matter,” state the authors.

The 3rd edition of the Fuorisalone Award: celebrating the Best of Milan Design Week

Fuorisalone Award returns, acknowledging the most memorable contents and installations presented during Milan Design Week. Directed by Studiolabo, the Fuorisalone Award honors the finest creativity and impactful ideas from both Italian and international companies and designers.

The projects competing for public votes will be fifteen in total, showcased in a dedicated section of the platform. They will be further explored through an event card system featuring content and photos of the installations. Concurrently, a collaborative effort between a technical committee and the editorial team will focus on highlighting content relevant to the world of design and projects. These selected projects will compete for the 4 Special Mentions across categories: Interaction, Sustainability, Technology, and Communication.

The jury responsible for selecting the winners of the special mentions will comprise: Caroline Corbetta, Contemporary Art Curator and Founding Director @ilcrepaccio; Andrea Davide Cuman, Professor and Historian of Fuorisalone; Giada Daniele, Architect and Digital Communicator; Paolo Ferrarini, Curator, Professor, and Journalist; Nicola Ricciardi, Artistic Director of miart; Angela Rui, Design Curator; Federica Sala, Curator and EIC The Good Life Italia; Andrea Staid, Anthropologist and Writer; Valentina Ventrelli, Expert in contemporary aesthetics; Francesco Zurlo, Dean of the School of Design at the Politecnico di Milano.

With the 2024 edition, the Special Media Partner Mention is introduced, inviting media partners to express their judgment based on the shortlist of the 15 most memorable projects. This “critics’ award” will run alongside the one chosen by the public.

The Fuorisalone Awards are designed by the Studiolabo team and crafted by Andrea Gallo with Pollodesign Factory, a Milan-based entity active in the field of design and production. They are stylized versions of the traditional pin that has characterized activities for the past 20 years. An homage to what has always served as the official map to navigate through installations, exhibitions, and discussion panels during the most important week for the design industry.

“The Fuorisalone Award reasserts its dedication to recognizing and documenting the most significant projects within Milan Design Week context. Moreover, the introduction of the new special mention by media partners underscores the importance of a collaborative and targeted approach in enhancing the event from various angles,” states Cristian Confalonieri, Co-founder of Studiolabo.

Voting will open starting from Wednesday, April 17th, and will remain active until Saturday, April 20th, at 12:00 PM.

e.Reporter: documenting Milan Design Week

The e.Reporter initiative is back, a project launched in 2003 dedicated to students of design, architecture, visual arts with a particular passion for photography and audio-visual content. The aim has always been to depict Fuorisalone through the eyes of a vigilant community, representing the designers of tomorrow. Through partnerships with the leading design schools in Milan, over 190,000 images have been shot over the years, becoming the historical and collective archive of the event.

The partenership between the School of Design at Politecnico di Milano and Studiolabo is confirmed, providing students from the School of Design, the School of Architecture, and POLI.Design with the opportunity to contribute to the event’s collective storytelling. The project falls within the framework of the “Passion in Action” program as an extracurricular activity proposed by Politecnico di Milano to its students, allowing them to obtain 3 CFU (University Course Credits) as educational recognition for voluntary involvement.

One of the new features of the 2024 edition is the opportunity extended to e.Reporters to contribute to the development of the research project “Salone / Milano Design Week come ecosistema” (- Salone / Milan Design Week as an ecosystem). This initiative is strongly supported by the Salone del Mobile. Milano, which has commissioned Politecnico di Milano to conduct a scientific investigation aimed at establishing an observatory to measure the impact of this unique event on the city. It’s an inclusive and participatory project involving the Municipality of Milan and a wide network of stakeholders, including Studiolabo.

Furthermore, a significant collaboration has been established with Northeastern University (NU) in Boston, led by Paolo Ciuccarelli, Director of the Center of Design at NU and with over 20 years of experience at Politecnico di Milano, where he founded the DensityDesign Research Lab. Twelve students from Northeastern University will take part in a special activity as e.Reporters, aiming to define, through practical fieldwork, the fundamental elements and principles of designing the experience of an event within the context of the Design Week. The goal is to “decode” the event by establishing analytical frameworks for its interpretation, which will be valuable for developing new formats.

Moreover, the collaboration with C41 magazine has been confirmed. In early April, the magazine will launch a photographic call to action: e.Reporters will document the Design Week following a specific brief provided by the C41 editorial team, and the finest images may be featured on the magazine’s platforms. This edition’s call to action is titled OBJECTS, focusing on the core of the Design Week: everyday objects, sustainable items, objects to own, and others to inhabit within unique installations.

Art and design at Fuorisalone: a relationship fostered by the collaboration with miart

Many initiatives originate within the context of miart and are designed to spill over into Milan Design Week, just as numerous Fuorisalone events prominently feature art. This is precisely why Nicola Ricciardi, Artistic Director of miart, has collaborated with Studiolabo to establish a partnership aimed at producing content, itineraries, and guides related to art in Milan during the Design Week. The goal is to promote cross-pollination between the two identities with the aim of providing Fuorisalone’s diverse audience with quality content useful for discovering the city from various perspectives. On, visitors will find guides to selected Milanese galleries, unique itineraries proposed by Nicola Ricciardi for discovering exhibitions and venues in the city, and lists of events involving artists or collectives within the Fuorisalone’s program.

“Art and design have always shared numerous points of contact; personally, I don’t put much stock in labels and divisions, so it feels quite natural to me to see these two worlds blending. And naturally, during the weeks of April, first during Milan Art Week and then during Milan Design Week, we witness how this intermingling can give rise to something original and innovative. This fusion of art and design is a hallmark of Milan, a city that has played a pivotal role in the development of modern art and, needless to say, contemporary design,” declares Nicola Ricciardi, Artistic Director of miart.

Salone del Mobile.Milano and Fuorisalone join forces for the Design Week

The collaboration with Salone del Mobile.Milano continues with the aim of highlighting exhibitors present both at the trade fair and throughout the city, following a dedicated route outlined in the event guide and on the interactive map of This includes indicating the location of stands across various pavilions and the event venue within the city, intended to guide the audience towards a selection of events organized by the leading brands in the design and furniture sector.

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