To call Salone del Mobile a furniture trade show is like calling the Super Bowl a football game. And the crowd is bigger. The huge event, now back on its annual cadence, stretches over a campus of cavernous halls and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. (To give a sense of scale, roughly 386,000 people visited in 2019… the population of Milan is around 1.3 million.)
But in addition to Salone, dozens of exhibitions also pop up in showrooms, studios, and temporary venues all over town, with everyone from tech companies (Google, Microsoft) to fashion brands (Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Issey Miyake) also creating often-elaborate presentations.
So how do you sort through it all and figure out which of these furnishings might eventually make its way into your living room? We sent three of our editors to cover a lot of ground (we stopped counting steps long ago) to separate the brilliant from the bland and the awesome from the awful. These are their personal picks for best in show, updated daily.
Day 3: Megan Reynolds, senior home guide editor
I’m Dwell’s in-house authority on bad renovation shows and occasionally, tile. In Milan, I’ll be immersing myself at the fairgrounds of what I’m affectionately calling the Chair Fair. Find me looking for the new, the opulent, and the pleasantly absurd.
Senior home guide editor Megan Reynolds navigates Salone on day three.
Salone del Mobile is the reason everyone refers to Milan's entire week of design as "Salone." The main event is both the least and the most interesting, depending on who you ask and how you’re feeling at the time, but it is the main event. Set in a giant complex outside of Milan, in Rho, the trade show portion of these proceedings are exactly as overwhelming as it sounds—six buildings chock-full of furniture, as far as the eye can see.
Though it’s a bit flip to say that if you’ve seen one chair, you’ve seen them all, that’s sort of true. Still, I spent five hours trawling the booths to sort through the chairs, chaises, loungers, and divans to show you what’s coming down the line. (Spoiler: The low-slung couch aesthetic isn’t going anywhere.)
Piero Lissoni’s Panoramic sofa, introduced in 2022 and now in a cozy gray color, is the kind of couch that looks expensive,
is expensive, but is likely worth every penny. It’s a comfortable sit that doesn’t require core strength or good knees on the exit, and is timeless in its simplicity. Get the Pro Newsletter
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Personally, the most exciting part of their booth was the pair of Wassily chairs in forest green leather. I’ve never actually sat in one—and what is a chair for but for taking a break? Resting my weary bones for but a few minutes revealed a surprise: The chair looks good but that’s basically where it ended for me.
At Gandía Blasco, new versions of the brand's ingenious reinterpretation of the classic poolside umbrella featured its signature slats made of phenolic panels instead of the traditional nylon and metal ribs. It makes for a very sculptural take on an item so commonplace that any innovation on the form really does feel like the wheel has been reinvented.
This umbrella was staged with a chair so unusual that it is worth mentioning: The Capa outdoor lounger looks pretty standard, but was covered in a nubby fabric designed to evoke a sense of hygge, even when it’s hot out. That it’s durable enough to be outdoors is innovative, but I personally cannot imagine wanting to lie on anything even vaguely resembling bouclé when the sun is high in the sky.
Fermob’s outdoor furniture offerings are like playground toys for adults, in the best possible way. The Adadesk resembles a rocking horse, but is actually a chair with an attached desk. There are three options for how one might sit on this chair: facing forward, with the desk at your front; facing backwards, with the desk as back support; or side-saddle, just for fun. When I sat backwards on the stool, with my body oriented toward what would be the business end of the rocking horse, the ergonomic design really came into play—my lower back felt supported by the desk. If I had my druthers, I’d replace every chair in my house with this one.
Sitting in the chair and rocking gently in front of a bemused crowd of fairgoers perhaps isn’t the best way to experience this, but despite the circumstances and my personal reservations about saddling up on what is essentially a rocking horse for adults, I loved it.
Edra’s booth was a dark hall of mirrors, like Yayoi Kusama’s
Infinity Room goes to the club. Once I slipped beyond the velvet rope, I made a beeline for the Standard, a sofa designed by Francesco Binfaré that’s meant to be everything for everybody. The cushions are filled with a proprietary material, Gellyfoam, and, even better, bend and hold shape, sort of like an adjustable headrest on an airplane seat. But these are executed with exaggerated lines and a scale that feels luxurious. It’s a couch that you can sink into without requiring assistance to stand up and honestly, what more do you really need? Glas Italia
Patricia Urquiola’s work for Glas Italia, the CC table, is a take on mosaic that’s miles away from the art form’s traditional application—the floors of a crumbling palazzo or an unfortunate side table one might find in a garden festooned with garden spheres of iridescent glass.
Urquiola’s table is a delightful optical illusion: When viewed from above, the flat surface has an unexpected dimensionality, thanks to parallelograms that line its edges.
I will get this out of the way: I understand the appeal of Eero Arnio’s Puppy for Magis, a sculpture of a dog as if drawn by a child, light enough for little arms to lift, and whimsical enough that it’d be a suitable substitute for a discerning adult with a yen for a Koons balloon dog. Puppy aside, I found myself drawn to Twain, a contemporary take on a low-slung safari chair by Konstantin Grcic and Hella Jongerius.
At first glance, the chair looks like a half-baked prototype in need of upholstery and finishing touches. But the devil is in the details with this one: The chair breaks down easily and therefore can be transported, and each design element—from the strap and ratchet that holds the legs together to the cloth, designed by Jongerius—is as functional as it is beautiful.
What became apparent to me throughout my travels is that the low-slung couch moment, as popularized by Ligne Roset’s Togo, isn’t going anywhere. "It’s better for aesthetics," a woman informed me as I considered Lunetta, a striking sofa from Studiopepe. According to my notes, which were written after three cappuccinos and little else, this sofa is a more structured answer to the Togo, and for that alone, I love it.
Getting up from a couch that’s this low to the ground requires youthful knees and more than a modicum of core strength, but I’m pleased to say that I did not need a crane or further assistance to get up after sinking into its embrace—soft but not worn out, squishy, but firm.
Gebrüder Thonet Vienna
Of all the chairs I saw and considered, there were very few that I’d actually sit with in my own home. India Mahdavi’s creation for Gebrüder Thonet won me over at first blush. Mahdavi’s use of color is noteworthy, as seen in the Pepto-y pink of London restaurant Sketch in 2018, and her eye for interiors that are welcoming, lived-in, and above all, interesting, is unmatched. The Loop dining chairs Mahdavi created are a playful and inventive alternative to your standard bent-wood chair that serves as shorthand for "having good taste."
Drowning in a sea of beautifully designed chairs that, after a few hours, started to blend together into an amorphous blob of clean lines, tubular chrome, and understated fabrics, Mahdavi’s work was a breath of fresh air. It’s difficult to be invigorated by a chair, but immediately, I was! Furniture should be as fun as it is earnest, and Mahdavi’s design feels accessible because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Over at Connubia, I was impressed with what could be the future of flat-pack furniture: a chair that doesn’t look like it required a set of throw-away tools and paper instructions to assemble. Per the video I watched at least twice, Connubia’s chair, which they say is a zero-waste design, only requires a coin and some gumption to put together, and is so easy that even a child (or very good child actor) can do it.
The couch, armchair, and ottoman were all pleasantly squishy to the touch, and while they both look a little bit like the inflatable vinyl furniture that enjoyed a moment in the sun in the early 2000s, they’re perfectly inoffensive. (For me, that’s a feature, not a bug.)
Day 2: William Hanley, editor-in-chief
I'm an arch minimalist, but one who is easily seduced by the strange and the surreal—my ideal sofa is a concrete slab with a fun throw pillow if that gives you any idea.
Editor-in-chief William Hanley.
After a couple of quiet years, the manufactured mania that stirs up around the design crowd when they swarm Milan seems to be back to pre-pandemic levels—with everyone buzzing breathlessly about jammed schedules and must-see shows. I’m no exception. It’s the end of the day on Monday, and I can’t believe it’s only Monday.
Today was all about legends and discoveries—checking big names off of the list and finding people you’ve never heard of. Here’s what happened.
First Stop: Via Durini and Thereabouts
Name a heritage furniture brand from Europe or elsewhere, and the odds are excellent that they have a showroom in Milan and that it could be on or near Via Durini. For the first half of the day, Karim (who shot these photographs) and I zigzagged our way through the neighborhood to see what’s new from the names you know.
First up, Flos. Let’s talk about track lighting. How do you make a pretty pedestrian and often maligned source of overhead illumination exciting? Walking into the Italian lighting giant’s showroom, it wasn't clear. In the center of the space, a stage was set up with props like a neutral-colored kitchen table and bookshelves, while dancers wearing monochrome workwear pantomimed various domestic scenes—reading, doing yoga, taking a polaroid of a friend—in slow motion. Someone watching pointed up, and sure enough, track lighting.
Exciting track lighting. The prolific London designer Michael Anastassiades’s latest for Flos is a system of tracks from which you can hang a set of five pendant fixtures designed to be moved around a space depending on how you want to use them. The idea is to make open-plan areas more defined for when you’re, say, doing a headstand as one dancer demonstrated, or working from home, without compromising on flexibility. Just scoot a light along when you’re on to the next activity.
VL56 by Vilhelm Lauritzen
Sticking with the lighting theme, we moved on to B&B Italia’s showroom where a presentation from multiple brands owned by its parent company included a newly reissued pendant light from Louis Poulsen. Designed by Vilhelm Lauritzen, the VL56 was originally created for the People’s House for the Employee’s Association, a theater and cultural building, in Copenhagen. The fetish for all things blandinavian of the last decade or so had me skeptical, but I’m happy to report that the fixture is a brilliant bit of 1950s chrome. It emits robust beams of light from a perforated diffuser that feels classic without being nostalgic, and it definitely isn’t boring.
Galaxy Light by Ray and Charles Eames
With an equally skeptical eye, I wanted to see Cassina’s new lighting collection because they recently secured the rights to produce a series of Charles and Ray Eames designs, the first of which is Galaxy, a late 1940s ceiling light that was never put into production. A spray of bulbs thrust out from an atomic core by a series of metal tubes, it seems like the urtext for many a midcentury lamp, but a bit more delicate. The proliferation of similar, later, and lesser designs makes it feel a little safe in a contemporary context, but if you’re going for the look, this is the real deal.
Bar Cart by Bodil Kjaer and Hayama Cabinets by Particia Urquiola
According to Cassina, and I agree, all your den needs now is a boxy bar cart by Bodil Kjaer or the Hayama cabinet by Particia Urquiola in shades of blue and brown, both released in the last few years.
Bombom Sofas by Joana Vasconcelos
Our final stop for the big brand portion of the day was Roche Bobois to see an outdoor furniture collection by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. The entrance to the showroom looked like someone had left a giant box of cupcakes out in the sun for a while. The artist had decked out a group of her Bombom sofas, large oblong tuffets strewn with bolsters, in lemon yellow and pastel pink. You might have a taste for it, but it made my teeth hurt.
do like the design because when so much outdoor furniture right now looks like a waterproof version of exactly what’s in your living room, Vasconcelos’s design is, as outdoor furniture should be, a lot of fun. Those tuffets, the shape of single-cell organisms from above, are gratifyingly buoyant, and the bolsters are detached but weighted so that you can reconfigure them to lounge in whatever position you want on the slightly bouncy surface. You can also pull up similarly contoured side tables. I was relieved to find another example in a Memphis-via-Betelgeuse black and white on the second floor of the showroom. Second Stop: Alcova
Next, the day took us from the familiar to the unknown. To be more specific, it led us to the actively crumbling ruins of a massive industrial slaughterhouse on the east side of town. This is the fifth venue taken over by Alcova, an exhibition of work by emerging designers that takes place during Salone, all of which have appropriately shown objects in various alcoves of disused buildings.
With more than 100 designers represented and its focus on early-career talent, the show is a mixed bag. Many, many pieces look like underbaked student work or just on trend and derivative, but that makes finding something amazing that you’ve never heard about even more rewarding. But today, we had to wait.
We arrived at the entrance just as the mayor of Milan, press corp in tow, commandeered the entrance to the exhibition for a photo op—apparently some Danish royalty had done the same earlier in the day. Inside the dusty, sun-baked, graffiti-covered, and beautifully decrepit campus, we set out through the show in search of discovery.
A hands-down highlight was a large textile work by Spanish-born Los Angeles designer Laura Niubó. The big bold color given a ton of depth by the quality of the wool was a perfect contrast to the crumbling concrete location; its impact was underlined by big bolts of similarly colored fabric hanging from the ceiling like a curtain.
I shared a "room" with a hefty metal dining table by Belgian designer Arthur Vandergucht…
…colorful wood-and-resin bowls by Turkish studio Ahu…
…a bright blue bar cabinet by fellow Istanbulites Studio Lugo…
…and some creatures by Polish designer Jonathan Bocca.
Other standout surprises with a sense of humor included five variations on a more beautiful blow-dryer at a presentation by NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti)…
…a French-made cord and steel chair by the collective 13 Desserts…
…and these zip-up felt table lamps in the Budapest Select section dedicated to Hungarian designers.
A big highlight of the exhibition was a presentation by the French cultural institution Luma Arles, which has an R&D lab of sorts. It explores novel, ecologically minded design applications for natural materials, including at Alcova, rice straw space dividers (pictured here), compressed-salt columns, and felt as a building material, among other experiments.
A big discovery in a diminutive package was a series of excellent small-scale ceramics by Berlin and Seoul-based AE Office based on the traditions of the volcanic island of Jeju.
Finally, there were a few well-established designers branching out in their work among the unknowns at Alcova, including new pieces by Lindsey Adelman. Rather than her usual lighting, Adelman created a series of one-off experiments for the show, including mobiles and ceiling lights that floated against the black-painted remains of one of the abattoir’s interiors. "I think of it like an all-knowing galactic goddess," Adelman said of one fixture, a metal cage dotted with blue glass orbs that dripped with metallic chains.
Third Stop: Bagni Misteriosi
Are you tired yet? Here’s a reward for your trekking. We closed the day at the Bagni Misteriosi, a 1930s complex that includes the nicest public pool I have ever seen. It doesn’t open for the season until May (when a dip only requires a small day-use fee and a swim cap). In the meantime, Gubi set up shop with a large display of new indoor and outdoor furniture.
On the way in, you pass through an exhibition celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Beetle chair by Danish duo GamFratesi. I can’t think of another chair that has become as much of an icon as to become synonymous with a brand—some people just call them Gubi chairs—in as short a time frame. For the exhibition Gubi asked ten other designers to offer up their interpretations of the chair.
And we’re finally done for the day. Take a breather. Make yourself a sbagliato. And relax by the pool for a bit.
Day 1: Julia Stevens, style editor
In a world full of beige sofas, I’ll be on the hunt for personality-filled pieces with some shock factor: the iridescent resin furniture of the world that makes you do a double take. It’s day one in Milan and the energy is electric. Here’s what I saw (and may never stop thinking about).
Style editor Julia Stevens on day one in Milan.
First Stop: The Bright Side of Design, Nilufar Depot
The first show of the week sets the vibe for the rest of the trip, which made Nilufar Depot the obvious choice as stop one. The striking, more experimental counterpart to owner Nina Yashar’s original gallery has never failed to get an audible "wow" out of me the second I walk in. I personally couldn’t imagine a better backdrop to Yashar’s boundary-pushing curations than a former silverware factory with industrial bones, sky-high ceilings, and lofted galleries that overlook an atrium, all warmed up with sheers as partitions.
Poikilos Collection by Objects of Common Interest
Entering the gallery’s main floor was like stepping into some kind of heaven. Minimally scattered between gauzy panels sat opalescent resin furniture radiating such intense light that I found myself wondering where the hidden power cord was.
It really is all about who you know. For this chair and the rest of the collection, Athens-based duo Objects of Interest used a glowy resin technique that they learned from an elder Romanian who had mastered the craft.
Celestial Proceedings by Audrey Large
Walking up to Audrey Large’s larger-than-life sculpture is like watching a 3D action movie and taking off the glasses only to realize the scene is actually happening right in front of you. And that’s not entirely far off—the dynamic sculpture
is 3D-printed, giving off a satin thread-like texture that picks up light but still appears soft.
When taking a closer look, I noticed engraved messages inscribed in writing that appeared as if someone had taken a finger to the frosting of a birthday cake.
Fontana Amorosa Collection by Michael Anistassiades
The thing about fountains is that they’re always in motion. Now imagine all that spewing water frozen in time, mid-air. That’s what lighting designer Michael Anistassiades did when thinking up his Fontana Amorosa collection, except he replaced jetting water with powder-coated brass in a wine color and attached mouth-blown opaline spheres for light bulbs.
Talco Side Tables by Draga & Aurel
Side tables traditionally serve a function, but as far as I’m concerned, all that Draga & Aurel’s drums need to do is sit pretty. Thick slabs of resin that look more like jello are layered atop a reflective metal surface.
Second Stop: RoCollectable 2023, Rossana Orlandi
Judging by the sheer volume of impassioned discourse echoing through the contemporary gallery’s halls, clearly Rossana Orlandi is the only place that matters on Sunday at noon. The multi-structure space surrounding a charming garden was packed to the brim with eager designers and editors, which goes to show you that Milan Design Week is as much about discovering young emerging talent from around the globe as it is about celebrating heritage Italian brands.
Facade Cabinet and Light Sculpture by Jordan Artisan
When thinking of decaying ancient buildings, the works of Jordan Artisan probably aren’t what you picture. Yet, that’s the exact type of structure his works draw from—specifically, his hometown of Nijmegan, an ancient roman settlement. In his wonderfully wonky shelf, every rule was broken. There were curves where you’d normally see angles, and slanted surfaces that would typically be level. While I had assumed the works were unglazed stoneware, they’re actually made of foam and chicken wire covered in cement.
Mag Floor Lamp by Mandalaki
Remember the sunset lamps that took over TikTok? Consider Mandalaki’s orange-light lamps to be their chic, older sisters. The Milanese brand’s dimly lit exhibition room was a much welcomed respite, and the model of the moment was a black anodized-aluminum pedestal. While it appeared to be one solid piece, its magnet-attached flashlight, if you will, could be removed to direct that candle-lit glow from the ceiling to the wall.
The Repeta Collection by Con Crazy
What do you get when you mix concrete with architectural debris? In this case, a plant bed, some wall panels, and a mirror and bench (not pictured) in a delightfully pastel palette. Unlike typical cement furniture that’s been done before, Con Crazy founders Sarah Kele and Anna Cserba’s mission is to honor the memory of an old building while also creating something new.
The Art of Living Together by Tjitske Storm
Sometimes, a rug is so special that it’s best suited as a wall hanging. That’s the case for all of Tjitske Storm’s looped wool works, full of playful graphic shapes, punchy colors, and fringe for days.
I couldn’t help myself but to go up and touch the dense, textured works. And yes, they’re as soft as you’d imagine.
Third Stop: The King, Atelier Biagetti
I entered the wildly original design studio Atelier Biagetti’s installation with little to no knowledge of what I was walking into, and what I happened upon was certainly a pleasant surprise.
Greeted by multiple Elvis Presley impersonators (talk about a warm welcome) and entertained by the atelier’s opera trained cofounder performing
Can’t Help Falling In Love, I couldn’t help but ask myself, where the hell am I?
The King Sofa by Atelier Biagetti
No one has a bigger ego than Elvis did, and a healthy sense of self takes up a lot of space. Which is why the show’s star sofa, inspired by the rock and roll icon, was as colossal as they come.
Seriously though—I’ve never seen a larger sofa in my life. Fully modular and composed of 22 cherry-red velvet sections, it took up so much space that it nearly became the space itself. My guide mentioned that it would be great for "all types of parties." And I’ll leave you with that.
Fourth Stop: Take It Or Leave It, Paola Navone
At this point in the day, my mood was very much
I need to sit down, charge my phone, and down a macchiato, which quickly became a non-issue after being hit with the energy of Paola Navone’s incredibly unique exhibit. The Italian architect and designer owns a vast collection of home accessories, and felt moved to downsize. So she partnered with media company The Slowdown and organized a raffle experience to give away one thousand of her objects. So basically, I’m considering this room the coolest vintage store I’ve ever stepped foot in. What’s more beautiful than upcycling objects with no reward other than the joy of making something once old, new?
Cutlery for a giant? Sure! Winners might receive a fork, spoon, or knife, but the real prize is the inevitable conversations to come while walking down the street with one in tow.
We all have a signature color, and for Navone, that’s blue. As a Pisces, she’s drawn to all things aquatic (her seashell assortment was a’plenty), so naturally, shades of cobalt, navy, turquoise, and robin’s egg were strategically grouped together.
If I were to win that coiled vase, I’d fill it with sunflowers and make it the centerpiece of my home.
Prototype Tray by Alessi and Paola Navone
If there’s one thing I learned from walking this show, it’s that if Navone collaborated on a product, it instantly became something special. Take her Alessi tray, for example: While it has the typical stainless steel frame, its surface is covered in a floral-patterned laminate by Abet.
Adding to its value, the tray is a one-of-a-kind prototype that never went into production.
Ghost Armchair by Gervasoni and Paola Navone
On Navone’s long list of collaborations is an upholstered seating line with Gervasoni. In a special custom version of her famous Ghost armchair, the slipcover is adorned with a little something special: various forms of magenta yarn, because, well, why not? I’m considering it coastal grandmother with a funky twist.