May 17, 2004 - In its 43rd year the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (international furniture fair) finally takes on a new, more encompassing name: Milano Design Week 04. The reason for this change in quite simply a question of numbers; the week long fair is no longer only a platform for furniture manufacturers to show their latest collections, it is an enormous manifestation of all that is designed from everywhere in the world. Therefore, and understandably, an event that hosts the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (home ware and furniture), Eurocucina (bathrooms), EIMU (office furniture), Tessile (fabrics), Salone Satellite (young designers), Dining Design, Designing Designers, Material ConneXion, and Street Dining Design deserved a more noble title.
It is also the first time that the two competing institutions of this fair, COSMIT and INTERNI, have collaborated making the design week this year all the more coherent yet harder to visit in its entirety. On the over 200,000 sq meters of fairground the adventurous visitor could chose amongst an endless list of exhibitors from Italian classics such as Kartell, Cappellini, and B&B Italia to 10 international design school’s restaurant projects held at the Dining Design event at padiglione 9.
Also in great form and fame at padiglione 9 was the Salone Satellite. Taking visitors on a galactic trip of 400 young designers’ imaginative designs within an area furnished with robots and a rocket promoting peace and love in these uncertain times, the Salone Satellite is the source for new trends and future design professionals.
For the more independent souls the choice of ‘alternative’ design events to attend during the Design Week, most held under the Fuorisalone umbrella and others such as Designersblock, Zona Tortona, and Fabrica, was devastatingly vast – devastating for the feet! Milano may be small but when its raining (it always rains during the show) and you want to see Ross Lovegrove’s Designosaurs, huge Styrofoam dinosaurs suspended in an old sawmill in the south of town, and in the same day catch the enlightened creations of Ingo Mauer at the Krizia gallery…you might be tempted to stop and pick up a new pair of Italian shoes. Naturally fashion couldn’t keep its nose out of the design week that brings over 180,000 visitors in from all industries and corners of the world to the capital of design. With Armani Home, Missoni, Dolce and Gabbana, Trussardi, and even Levi’s present (Designersblock) the fashion icons were strutting the design catwalks in style. If there was one place to be it was the out of fair grounds event D.O.C, aka Street Design Dining, Interni magazine’s Fuorisalone main event during the design week. A unique collection of 10 food kiosks designed 10 architects or designers sponsored by 10 companies dedicated to street food design, architecture, food presentation, packaging aesthetics, and graphics brought design to street level. Walking by the stands and occasionally stopping by to enjoy a fabulous Italian gelatto or a creatively stuffed ‘cone’ pizza the show emphasized the culture of the street and gastronomical pleasures that a visitor can appreciate even while standing.
This was also the setting for cars to become part of the annual design week. As the main sponsor dozens of MINIs were decked out in graphics and colors to match the event and grooved around town while their very own MINI Picnic showed off inside the Triennale (the venue where Street Design Dining was held). Fiat didn’t miss out either on the prestigious occasion to debut their new concept car the Panda Alessi; Stefano Giovannoni of Alessi joined the Fiat team to create a uniquely Italian gem. Already a big seller in Italy the Fiat Panda got a chic make-over by Italy’s premier design house, Alessi, turning out a fun and ‘designer’ cool vehicle. There are no plans to bring this concept to market but it definitely opens the door on alternative venues for premiering concept cars. With the high attendance statistics and unique ‘city’ setting Milan's Design Week may become a repeat forum for the automotive industry to show product and fashion design infused concept cars to hungry paparazzi.