Tuesday in Milan was time for the main event—the opening of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile on the sprawling campus of the Fiera Milano in the suburban town of Rho. Designed by architect Massimiliano Fuksas, Hon. FAIA, the gigantic complex of escalators, walkalators, and plastic canopies was overrun as usual, with thousands of guests, media, and exhibitors rushing through the airy pavilions. 

Item number one on the itinerary was the Euroluce lighting fair on the western edge of the fairgrounds. Suckers for the oldies-but-goodies, we were especially pleased to see a special section devoted to “Masters” at the Nemo-Cassina booth: a couple of Le Courbusier Lampes de Marseille right next to an exquisite wall-mounted fixture by Charlotte Perriand. Lighting specialists FLOS made an impression (or a depression) with their inset Running Magnet light, a strip of luminosity that clings magnetically to a metal-backed channel cut into the wall or ceiling. 

From there it was onto the SaloneUfficio, the section of the Salone devoted to office furniture. There the prime attraction was the debut of Progetto: Ufficio da Abitare, a curated exhibition-slash-experimental office environment from French architect Jean Nouvel, Hon. FAIA. In a 1,200-square-meter (12,917-square-foot) pavilion-with-the-pavilion, Nouvel created a sequence of different workspaces arrayed around a central concourse, each decked out by a wide array of modern and contemporary designers. With themes like “Office in Warehouse” and “Work at Home”, each was meant to explore a new way of integrating life and work—though again, we felt most at home among the old-fashioned, in another room given over to desks and workstations from 20th-century masters like Frank Lloyd Wright and Jean Prouvé. 

The evening hours brought us back to the city, making the rounds at a number of the Fuori Salone openings northeast of the Centro Storico. Danish textile makers Kvadarat  teamed up with Moroso to create The Revolving Room, a suite of colorful panels that rotated (somewhat dizzying) as the partygoers milled about; English lighting designer Lee Broom filled the Spazio Pontaccio with his crystalline creations. The night finally ended in the wee hours at an after-after party for low-fi shelter magazine Apartamento where designers and journos knocked back drinks in the garden of what turned out to be a regular watering hole for Italian military veterans.