What is Design Week?

You’ve probably heard of Maison Et Objet in Paris or FuoriSalone from Milan and all the gush it brings to architects, interior designers, industrial engineers and even art enthusiasts. If you’re wondering and curious of what these are – it is plain to say that they are simply different versions of Design week.

So what is design week? Curated yearly, major cities take turns in celebrating week-long events of local and international takes on upcoming and innovative design trends expressed in furniture and accessories; lighting fixtures and design installations.  


In Milan, what started out as Salone del Mobile in 1961 as an opportunity to promote the best Italian furniture design is now a 6-day fair for exhibitors from all over the globe to showcase their latest collections on furniture, lighting, kitchen and bathroom accessories. Held every April at the vast Rho Fiera exposition halls designed by Massimiliano Fuksas, more than 370,000 professional visitors flock to see the next big design trends from over 2,300 exhibitor companies. This is further elaborated with Euroluce focusing on lighting fixtures; Eurocucina for kitchen design; Salone Satellite as a launchpad for young designers; and International Bathroom exhibition for wellness design.


Dispersed all over Milan, Fuorisalone which literally translates to “outside fair” is everything that happens beyond the trade event in Rho Fiera exhibition halls. Since a lot of design enthusiasts and professionals visit Milan and impacts the city immensely in the duration of one week, the city’s neighborhoods initiated to convert districts. Most famous are Zona Tortona, Brera, 5VIE and Lambrate. Here, experimental displays, design installations, industry- related conferences and emerging designers are presented for everyone to see.

FuoriSalone 2018 map / Image courtesy of www.objectsmag.it


Since Milan is a fashion capital, various luxury brands also ventured into home design. Huge brands such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Missoni and Gucci produce multiple furniture lines which are up for purchase by private buyers/designers and retailers. The fashion houses participate both in the fair grounds of the Salone del Mobile or in Fuorisalone, most often occupying grand rooms in historical Italian buildings for their presentations. Other brands such as Cos decide to go for design installations instead. Sculptures or interactive set-ups are placed in famous public spaces for easy access to visitors.


Spearheaded by Design Philippines a few years back, our very own designers also make a statement in the Salone del Mobile. Occupying its own booth, Filipino designers are given the chance to present their collections. Most notable is Kenneth Cobonpue who continuously pushes Filipino design into the international scene. Other designers who previously showcased in Milan are Andy Garcia, Joan Wang, Stanley Ruiz, Wataru Sakuma, Mirei Ong, Vito Selma and many more.


Maison Et Objet is the French counterpart which usually takes place two times a year (January and September) in Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center and is considered to be another major European design week. Maison Et Objet focuses also on home furniture design and the latest accessories for tabelescaping and kitchen design. Paris Design week is a festive, unifying gathering which flies the banner of the art of living and in which the whole city reveals the innumerable talents of designers, architects, decorators, fashion designers, and chefs.


Venice Biennale, as the principle organization that handles multiple exhibits of the same name consists mainly of the Venice Architecture Biennale and the Venice Art Biennale. The Art Biennale being the original biennale is a visual contemporary art exhibit and takes place every other odd year hence the term “biennale”. The Biennale receives international participation via dedicated pavilions of multiple countries. The central pavilion with yearly themed exhibitions is located at the Giardini Arsenale while the permanent national pavilions of constant participating countries are distributed in nearby locations.


Moving further up on the map is Dutch Design week which happens to be the biggest design event in Northern Europe. It attracts more than 350,000 visitors and features 2,600 designers which also takes place in more than 110 locations across the city. Dutch Design week focuses more on experimental futuristic design, innovative trends and cross overs.

Uncredited Photos by Melo Albert

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