Since 2005, when the Salone del Mobile design fair moved out to the massive, Fieramilano compound, designed by Massimiliano Fuksas, Hon. FAIA, the first question for attendees is: How the heck do you get there?
The suburb of Rho is only about 15 miles from Milan proper, but the traffic means that public transit is the only plausible route. Crowded and slow going, the Metro and suburban rail lines leave visitors that much more harried when they arrive at the nearly 4 million-square-foot Fiera. Given the logistics, it’s sometimes just easiest to duck into the first pavilion that pops up—though in this case, the crown-molding laden fare at the Complimento Classico section isn’t necessarily the most rewarding.
At the very end of the concourse, however, tucked inside this year’s EuroCucina show, a special exhibition titled “Where Architects Live” made the haul fairly worthwhile. A series of spare rooms outfitted with videos and lighting, each one conjured the home turf of a given international designer, among them Zaha Hadid, Hon. FAIA, Shigeru Ban, Hon. FAIA, and David Chipperfield, Hon. FAIA. A couple of the quote-unquote residents were actually in attendance, including Doriana Fuksas, who was holding forth with typical flair to a gaggle of Italian journalists.
Then the problem of how to get back to the city—all the way across town to the Università degli Studi di Milano, whose gigantic Renaissance cortile is playing host to a special fuori Salone exhibition sponsored by Milan’s 2015 Expo. Alongside a suite of large-scale, experimental project, the show’s two biggest items are Atelier Bow-Wow’s “Windowscape,” a confoundingly complex hall of mirrors, and “Infinite Staircase,” an elaborate lumber installation by designers dRMM in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council.
A big draw earlier this week was a panel conversation between performance artist extraordinaireMarina Abramovic and architect Daniel Libeskind, AIA, discussing the spiritual, artistic, and philosophical implications of food (the nominal topic of the Milan Expo). Though the two are only of fairly recent acquaintance, they seemed a rather natural pairing—sharing, as they do, a certain sense of high-minded showmanship. As the designer put it when we caught up with him afterwards, “We’re on the same wave length.”