Milan, we have returned.

Yesterday was the calm before the Salone del Mobile storm—a (relatively) light afternoon of hopping from venue to venue in and around the city’s Zona Tortona, the old industrial neighborhood that hosts most of the outside-the-Feria shows during the yearly international furniture fair. Within minutes of arrival, we were off: First stop, the Spazio Rossana Orlandi, a charming courtyard gallery just west of the city center. 

Things at the space were still somewhat in disarray. Swiss product maker Punkt, currently under the direction of acclaimed British designer Jasper Morrison, was still setting up in the Spazio, their AC 01 Alarm Clock and DP 01 phone just emerging from their crates; most of their fellow exhibitors were similarly preoccupied. Marco Tabasso, Orlandi’s son, was overseeing the installation process and observed that many of the designers showing there had come to him last minute. “At first it was like with the recession, everyone seemed afraid,” he said. “Then suddenly…”

Fear did not seem much in evidence elsewhere in the Zona, least of all in the bold and rather racy den created by design outfit Moooi and its director Marcel Wanders. Voluptuously contoured lamps and a wrap-around couch—looking very much like a raised conversation pit—were arrayed around the room under photographs of nude models in suggestive poses. “We felt we were ready to do these iconic pieces in a home environment,” Wanders remarked, before taking the stage with company CEO Caspar Vissers.

After a brief dash through Kitchenaid (were we the only ones who didn’t know what an “induction cooktop” was) and the sprawling Superstudio Più compound (of which there is more to come), it was onto the MOST preview, located in several contiguous buildings on the campus of Milan’s Museum of Science and Technology. Under the curation of English design dynamo Tom Dixon, the show seemed to take a special interest in questions of process, packaging, and distribution, with Dixon’s own installation looking a factory in miniature, replete with forklift and conveyor belt.