Milan Design Week: (In)tangible impact

Each year in April, Milan becomes the capital of design—the pulsating heart of global creativity. Within the space of one week, more than five hundred thousand people from over 160 countries make their way to the event. The Milan Design Week combines two spatially and conceptually different, and yet very symbiotic phenomena: Salone del Mobile, the traditional furniture trade fair at Rho’s Fiera just outside Milan—the economic and commercial engine; and FuoriSalone, the set of design events distributed within the center of Milan—expression of creative contamination and a stronger relationship between design and the city. 

Like a sponge, the city absorbs the best that the world of design has to offer and releases back its energy to the event’s participants, and the urban environment itself.

Despite the heterogeneity and sometimes unpredictable development of the design districts, their impact on Milan’s urban dynamics is substantial and clearly visible. For one week, the city completely transforms itself, disrupting its activities. Private spaces open up to the public, and public places like squares and plazas are taken over by tech companies or car manufacturers through pavilions and installations. Global brands and emerging designers alike rent out retail and residential spaces to tell the stories of their work, their products, and their projects by creating engaging experiences for the visitors.  

The legacy of Design Week for Milan is the capacity to generate continual transformations of the built environment, with virtuous repercussions for citizens’ lives.

Such a collective vibe that permeates the urban fabric during the week also fosters long-term opportunities for morphological improvements of the physical setting. For the Municipality of Milan, the Design Week becomes an urban prototype for temporary experimentations—such as closing out streets to traffic for creating pedestrian areas or redefining spatial programming—that can possibly be translated into permanent solutions.

Typology: Research article
Location: Milan, Italy
Year: 2019
Client: Domus
Research, text and drawings: Stefano Andreani
Status: Published on Domus N. 1034

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