The History of the Milan Design Week

A book tells the history of the Fuorisalone, the most attended lifestyle event in the world

Over time, Milan’s Fuorisalone, started as a complement to the Salone del Mobile, has established itself as an almost independent event, becoming a fundamental part of the event that has taken the name of Milan Design Week.

milan-design-week-history.jpgNow, a book tells its story, trying to trace the time boundaries and its development in the city of Milan. The Fuorisalone, the independent event that includes all the side events to the Salone del Mobile, has neither a starting date nor a specific place.

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At the end of the 1970s, some entrepreneurs and designers decided to exhibit “outside the Salone del Mobile” for different reasons. At first, Fuorisalone simply meant “outside the Salone.” It was an urge to communicate in a different way, free from the constraints imposed by the fair pavilions.

During the 1980s, some areas of Milan underwent a gentrification process, with large industrial spaces being abandoned and creative activities taking their place.

Download an extract of the book History of Milan Design Week 

Pallucco at the Mattatoio, 1988, photo: Emilio Tremolada

So, event after event, year after year, the Fuorisalone spread to all areas of Milan. At first in the city center and in the area of via Tortona, and gradually to the other suburbs, as the industrial activities moved. In addition to expanding in the various areas of Milan, the Fuorisalone grew in size, involving more and more people and events, until it reached the proportions of the 2010s.

The History of Milan Design Week

The book “Storia del Fuorisalone” (History of Milan Design Week) tells the first 40 years of the event that contributed to changing the look of many areas in Milan. Written by Roberta Mutti and published by DDN-Design Diffusion World, the book focuses on the protagonists of this story: the people who contributed to building it.

Maurizio Stocchetto, owner of Bar Basso, a protagonist of the Fuorisalone from the beginning

There have been many protagonists over these years. The entrepreneurs who organized the events, the designers, the journalists who came from all over the world, the emerging public relations agencies. And, of course, the attending public, a specialized audience that contributed to spreading the fame of the Fuorisalone and Milan Design Week throughout the world.

Download an extract of the book History of Milan Design Week 

Pallucco at the Mattatoio, 1988, photo: Emilio Tremolada

The book reconstructs the chronology of the events, while identifying several recurring themes that have emerged over the years. Communication, socialization, urban redevelopment, the relationship with the territory and the citizens. Without neglecting the relationship with the Salone del Mobile and furniture, with the large companies outside the sector that have arrived in recent years and their influence on the transformation that the Fuorisalone has undergone since the mid-2000s.

Gli Abiti, sofas by Paolo Piva for B&B Italia, “dressed up” by Gianfranco Ferrè. The first design event at Superstudio, 1984, photo courtesy B&B Italia

Milan Design Week: a story of people

All the stories are told by their protagonists, who recount their experience in the first person. The book illustrates these stories with photographs of the events, starting from the early 1980s, with some events that can be considered milestones, until 2019.

Ron Arad at Galleria Fac-Simile, 1989, photo Emilio Tremolada

Finally, all the protagonists wonder about the future of the Fuorisalone. As early as the second half of the 2010s, the Milan Design Week started to suffer from oversizing and overcrowding. Even more so in the light of the current situation, it is legitimate to wonder what path should be taken for the future.

Download an extract of the book History of Milan Design Week
The book will be available at specialty bookstores from September and at DDN HUB 2021
To buy, please send an email to, the price is euros 35 + delivery

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