Yesterday, bedlam overran the streets of Milan’s Zona Tortona. There were people in horse costumes and people in jerry-built spaceship uniforms; there were flowers planted in basketball shoes on the steps of a railroad overpass; there were cryptic signs painted into the sidewalk and monumental salad forks trussed up in crepe and ribbons. There was a man strapping a translucent fiberglass owl to the top of a crossing signal.

This was the Fuori Salone, the outside-the-fairgrounds segment of Salone 2012, where designers big and small showed their wares in grand showrooms and tiny temporary galleries all over the neighborhood. We walked into one building to have a look at a gorgeously abandoned interior courtyard—only to find a series of arrows leading to a darkened annex within, home to the B. Box, makers of high-end audio equipment. We tried to take a quick breather inside Design Village, the massive warehouse where design conglomerate Poltrona Frau was holding court—only to find ourselves completely distracted by the vertiginous installation from manufacturer Cappellini, which dangled their chairs on guy-wires from 100  feet up.

The word troppo seemed generally applicable. During the day, the weather was stellar, and Dedon’s rear garden suddenly looked like a tropical resort. At night, Heineken unveiled pop-up venue called the Club, an experimental nightclub-as-gesamtkunstwerk by a team of interdisciplinary young designers. We wound things down in a bar under the Torre Branca, the Gio Ponti–designed pylon in the leafy Parco Sempione, where the mostly silver-haired crowd was still going strong when we departed well after midnight.