A three part series by Jason Mark.

How to survive the Salone del Mobile experience.

If you are thinking of heading over next year, here are my 5 tips to preparing for Milan (to ‘survive’ the Salone del Mobile experience).

  1. Book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. Milan gets crazy expensive for Design Week and if you don’t want to be paying over $1000 AUS a night for something respectable or over $500 per night for a 2 star room – book ahead. It is better to stay either near the fairgrounds or my preference, in downtown Milan but near the metro rail that very efficiently links you to the main entrance of the fair.  Staying at other outlying precincts can make transfers to and from the fair quite difficult.
  2. Get very clear about your objectives for the fair. Who is on your ‘must see’ or ‘must do’ list?  What are your wanting to achieve?  Time erodes very quickly in Milan and it is highly probable you won’t get to do everything you’d planned – so all the more reason to ensure you have correctly prioritised to avoid disappointment when you are boarding your flight home.
  3. Don’t attempt to drive to the fair. Over the years I have attempted this on only 2 occasions & most recently decided never, never again.  You can be caught for nearly 2 hours just on the exit ramp heading off the motorway to enter the car parks at the fair.  There are 5 of them and they can leave you miles from the fair itself.  The rail is the only sensible way to transfer to / from the fair.
  4. Remember that not everything is happening at the fair itself. With some launches and special events at showrooms, restaurants and various other venues around Milan it pays to allow some time to transfer between locations and have a plan for days end.  If you’ve not seen a lot of Italy, then it also pays to consider a day or two of local culture – when you consider that Tuscany, the Italian Riveria, the Dolomite ranges and Venice are all within a few hours by train or car.
  5. Talk to us long before you go. We can provide details about events, gatherings of Aussies and provide other tips on how to get good value / good opportunities at the fair. (It can be quite hard to work this stuff out after you arrive at the fair).

The reality is that while many of the furniture exhibitions of the world are now forced to reinvent themselves or fight for survival before they shrink out of existence altogether, Salone del Mobile remains as busy as ever.  Perhaps Milan is so large that many feel it is actually too risky not to participate but whatever the reason, the wider community of the design and furniture industry makes a pilgrimage to this old but fashionable part of the world to confirm that Milan is still Milan … and the crowds appear to be destined to keep coming.

In all my experiences of Milan, there has been a point where I have realised a commercial benefit and learned something practical and helpful which will help me, our organization and our clients.

I would assume with so much to learn and discover, the commercial value is probably there for every delegate but of course, for many of those same visitors who’ve made that big pilgrimage … they will also find themselves on a balmy Spring evening with some charming company in a random history-and-architecture-inspired courtyard, that looks like a set out of the latest Hollywood romance flick … while being served a superb bowl of fresh pasta, a delightful glass of vino (with perhaps one more espresso and cannoli before turning in for the night) … little wonder that many of those who attend the Milano Fair are back again next year.

Jason Mark, Offiscape – Brisbane is also a correspondent for The Meta Collective – bringing some of the world’s most inspired design furniture to Australia & New Zealand.

For an even more in-depth report on Salone del Mobile Milano 2018, just email with the words ‘Yes please SDMM2018’ and we’ll arrange a copy direct to you.   


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