Fuorisalone history

Any attempt to trace the history of the Fuorisalone would be impossible without including the Salone del Mobile, the commercial soul and driving force behind the event. Similarly, it is unthinkable to imagine the Salone without the Fuorisalone, two symbiotic events that in the quality of the productive, cultural and urban fabric of Milan have found a context capable of hosting and giving space to the many expressions and diverse interests of the international design community. The Fuorisalone event arose spontaneously, developing over a period of thirty years and becoming a virtuous example which is as yet unequalled.

The '60s & '70s

When the first Salone del Mobile Italiano was inaugurated in 1961, organised by Cosmit (the Committee for the Organisation of the Salone del Mobile Italiano), the world of design had already become so autonomous (in linguistic, formal and productive terms) that it was only few years after the opening of Padiglione 30/III, also known as the ‘design Mecca’, that companies pioneering a new way of looking at furniture moved in. This was a period of considerable growth and development for both the Salone and design, and at the end of the 70s the first signs of what would become common practice among companies began to be seen: between the constraints of trade fairs and choices of position, Cassina was the first to take advantage of its own showroom in the city, as an extension of its commercial space at the trade fair, thus creating a precedent that would soon become a distinctive feature of the event.

The '80s

These were the years of the ‘Milano da Bere’, of new consumerism and mass hedonism. And while more and more companies decided to exhibit their displays in showrooms and other prestigious locations in the city centre, or to celebrate their anniversaries in unusual venues, the Fuorisalone was laying its foundations. In 1981 Alchymia brought to the Politecnico new contaminations between the language of the design of Mobile Infinito by Mendini and that of the performances of the Magazzini Criminali. At the same time, the exhibition of Memphis at the Arc 74 gallery achieved such acclaim that, in city spaces, it opened up that frenetic activity of the design world that had previously precluded the majority. In this climate, in 1983 Abitare magazine acknowledged for the first time that something different was happening in the city, first by dedicating a section of the magazine to the Fuorisalone, and a year later by reporting on the event with a special video feature. In the following years, design outside the main Salone event was to take up more and more space in the specialist press and in the city itself, marking an ultimate change of direction in the way design was exhibited, as well as a new relationship with the city.

The '90s

1990 was an Annus horribilis for the Fiera Campionaria which shut down after operating for decades. Instead it was an Annus mirabilis for Cosmit, which in 1991 moved the 30th edition of the Salone del Mobile from September to April, occupying all the trade fair venues and establishing a new calendar for the sector. To fill the space in the calendar left open by the Salone, Gilda Bojardi of Interni organised the first Designer’s Week, a network of city showrooms which together formed what would become known as the first official guide to the Fuorisalone. It was a short-lived experience which came to an end after the second edition and was immediately realigned with the new calendar. But it was enough to provide a vital boost to the Fuorisalone event and to the development of the small-scale production of guides which invaded Milan in subsequent years. The same magazine was to become the protagonist of other important changes, above all the realisation of thematic installations, free of commercial interests, which from 1998 marked a new use of public space, ten years later being housed on a permanent basis in the cloisters of the Università Statale. It was Cosmit that responded to this gradual opening up of the design world to the city and its visitors by opening its own Salone to the general public who, thanks to the growing number of initiatives outside the Salone event, had discovered a new cultural and consumer interest.

The 21st century

Urban marketing, contaminations of expression, and digital media. These are the years of Zona Tortona and the temporary design districts, of which there were 7 in 2013 (or 6, or 8, according to some). In 2000 Gisella Borioli and Giulio Cappellini of SuperStudio decided to extend their premises to host design as well as fashion, and the following year Zona Tortona was created as the first project of Fuorisalone territorial branding, thanks to the intuition of Luca Fois’s Recapito Milanese. These are years of great change: in 2006 the Fiera di Milano, and with it the Salone, moved to the new pavillions in Rho, while Cosmit opened up to the city through various cultural and non-cultural initiatives. Keeping up with the evolution of the Fuorisalone has become increasingly difficult: on the one hand, the expressive boundaries of design have extended to include new fields of application of the project culture and new productive sectors, while on the other Milan’s creative industries and cultural associations see the design week as an opportunity for renewed vitality, a way of involving the city and promoting new forms of creative contamination. And within this continuous process of leakage and re-aggregation, repulsion and attraction, both urban geography and ways of experiencing the city are changing.

Curated by Andrea Cuman for Fuorisalone.it

References:

- Cuman, A.D., 2012, MediaSpaces, Urban Events and Mobile Experience: an ethnographic enquiry into the social production of the city of design. Tesi di dottorato, Università Cattolica di Milano.
- Cuman, A.D., 2013, Lo spazio mascherato, in Bootleg 6/10.
- Cuman, A.D., (2015), FuoriSalone. Una storia di design, media e città.
- Molinari, L., Lazzaroni, L., 2006, The Art of Display - L'arte di mettere in mostra, Skira.
- Lazzaroni, L., 1996, 35 Anni Di Design 1961-1996 Al Salone Del Mobile, Cosmit.
- Lotus, 137., 2009, I Saloni, Editoriale Lotus.

Publications:

30 anni di Fuorisalone, Electa
30 Years of FuoriSalone. 1990-2020. Milano Design Stories. Illustrated edition
Finessi Beppe; Ferrarini Paolo; Sudjic Deyan

Through more than 500 pages, 1,000 images and the projects of over 2,500 protagonists, 30 years of FuoriSalone celebrates the most important international event for the world of design. The book traces in chronological order the history of the event in Milan, through a narrative divided into decades (1990-1999, 2000-2009, 2010-2019), introduced by a chapter dedicated to the Eighties.

The book hosts the contributions of four design experts (Beppe Finessi, Deyan Sudjic, Paolo Ferrarini and Li Edelkoort) who offer a general and personal reading of the phenomenon, its evolution and meaning. The Decades, on the other hand, makes use of the historical and sociological introduction by Andrea Davide Cuman, university professor and researcher, who recounts the event in relation to the evolution of taste and the transformations of the city.

Storia del Fuorisalone,
eventi temporanei per effetti duraturi

Roberta Mutti

The first 40 years of the event that changed the image of Milan, focusing on the protagonists of this story, the people who helped build it. From the entrepreneurs who organized the events to the designers, passing by the journalists who came from all over the world and the emerging public relations agencies. And, of course, the public who participated, a specialized audience that helped spread the fame of Fuorisalone and Milan Design Week around the world.

In 272 pages in two languages, Italian and English, the book reconstructs the timeline of the events, while identifying several recurring themes that have emerged over the years. Communication, socialization, urban requalification, the relationship with the territory and the citizens. Without neglecting the relationship with the Salone del Mobile and with furniture, with the major extra-sector companies that have joined in recent years, and their influence on the transformation of the Fuorisalone since the mid-2000s.

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