While the key event of Milan design week has always been the Salone de Mobile, the world’s largest and most influential furniture fair this year, I decided to bring focus to the often overlooked exhibitions scattered across the city. Commonly known as the fuorisalone these exhibitions, installations and events take place across several design districts in Milan. Though much as the fair the fuorisalone was not left untouched by the lingering pandemic and will be much smaller this year with fewer districts taking part. Despite the smaller turnout I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and would love to share some of my favorite highlights.

1. Natural Capital

Italian architect Carlo Ratti partnered with fossil-fuel giant Eni to create an installation titled “Natural Capital”. Held in the Brera Botanical Garden, the installation features large bubbles suspended next to different plant species, detailing how much carbon dioxide they absorb from the atmosphere. The bubbles are made of thin recyclable film and their appearance is meant to resemble the shape of oxygen atoms, released by plants during photosynthesis.

The work has become somewhat controversial when it was labelled as greenwashing. Though both the architect and Eni defended the installation.

2. Dior’s Medallion Chair Exhibit

Originally selected by Christian Dior, the Louis Medallion chair was meant to seat guests at his fashion shows because of its “sober, simple, and above all classic and Parisian” style. This year Dior chose to collaborate with various artists and designers who each interpreted the iconic chair in a variety of unique styles.

3. JUNG loves … Exhibition of Things

JUNG LOVES … Exhibition of Things was conjured as an exploration of the term “love” and the many associations it has in the modern world. Various red tones paired with sound and movement are meant to reflect on such concepts as “passion” and “longing” as well as the fragility of being.

4. Be Water

A large mural of a woman hangs above the Cozzi municipal swimming pool. Titled “Be Water” the striking installation aims to celebrate femininity, sport and beauty. The work was created by “Toiletpaper”, a disruptive art publication and long-time collaboration between artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari.

5. Toiletpaper Home: Irony is served

As well as their contribution to the art scene Toiletpaper in collaboration with Seletti unveiled their first Home collection for the first time. A maximalist’s dream, the provocative exhibition consists of tables that are shaped like bars of soap, colorful prints, and even hens roaming the garden. The show was paired with a banquet with an equally fantastic menu consisting of frog burgers, “big insult” tiramisu, and rivers of coffee spritz.

6. Nanda Vigo, incontri ravvicinati. Art, Architecture, Design

A solo show dedicated to the late artist and designer Nanda Vigo as a retrospective of her work. The show was divided into three distinct sections each focusing on certain aspects of the artist’s body of work.

The first section presents Nanda Vigo as “master of light”, with one of her most famous works of art: “The Chronotopic Environment”. A metal structure where sheets of transparent industrial glass are inserted, crossed by the light which is the unifying element of time (chrono) and space (topical). Bright and transparent, it represents the immersive idea of ​​light as a journey.

The second focuses on architecture, through some archival pieces. A reflection on her early collaboration with Gio Ponti with whom she created the project “ZERO House” in Milan (1959-1962), a house of light with frosted glass walls inside which a system of different color neon lights alter the perception of space.

The third section reflects the complexity of Nanda Vigo’s research as a designer: from the famous mirrors, to the “due più” chairs (1971). The show is completed by the historic Golden Gate lamp from the “Hard & Soft” series of work, the artist’s last complete collection created in 2019.