Milan's annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile, also known as the Milan Design Fair, opens today. While it might have begun back in 1961 as a trade fair to promote Italian craftsmanship, today's event, held at the fairground in Rho, just outside the city centre, is the largest event of its kind and the place where the world's best designers unveil their finest work first.
The headline event at this year's Salone is Where Architects Live, an exhibition detailing the homes of such stellar architects as Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Shigeru Ban.
Yet we think Hella Jongerius is the star of the show. The Dutch designer has teamed up with the Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra to introduce her East River Chair to a wider audience. The light, casual design arose from Jongerius' work on the UN North Delegate's Lounge in New York, and is, Jongerius says, a riposte to cumbersome office chairs. This one has "a handle on the back of the seat for easy relocation and comes in a number of vibrant colour combinations."
Jongerius has also reinterpreted some classic pieces, including the 400 and 401 armchairs and the 60 Stool - for the late, great Finnish architect Alvar Aalto's furniture company, Artek. The firm has also commissioned a chair from Konstantin Grcic, called Rival, also on show at the firm's stand.
Meanwhile, the Bouroullec brothers' glass furniture collection, Diapositive, goes on show at the Glas Italia booth. As we reported earlier this week, the collection is a step on from Shiro Kuramata's early glass pieces, and speaks to the Bouroullecs' desire to reconfigure our offices for a paperless age.
Milan's designated satellite show, SaloneSatellite, celebrates young designers, and focuses on ways in which furniture makers can integrate artisanal tradition with industrial production. Expect everything from stone masonry through to 3D printing.
However, some of the best stuff in Milan is being displayed outside the fair's official stands. The Swedish rug makers, Henzel, will be debuting its new creations, by Helmut Lang and Anselm Reyle at Superstudio's Temporary Museum for New Design, at 27 Tortona.
Nendo have a show at 2 via delle Erbe, which features their Print chairs, a simple wood and metal seat, with patterns printed onto a variety of timber, from particle board to birch.
Droog presents a range drawn from the Rijksmuseum, including reproductions of antique glasses from the museum's collection, and a silicone table cover mimicking traditional Dutch embroidery.
Zaha Hadid Design will show a new range of tableware and furniture at Galleria Scacchi Giovanni, 4 Via Rivoli, with viewing by appointment only.
More liberally, the Salone has organised free entry to Milan's city museums, including the city's Museum of the Twentieth Century, the Archaeological Museum, and the Gallery of Modern Art.
The whole thing runs until 13 April. For more, take a look at this great map from Wallpaper. For greater insight into Alvar Aalto consider our great new book; for more on the Bouroullecs, consider this handsome monograph; for Hella Jongerius, see our books; for a pocket-sized design history from teapot to laptop, take a look at The Design Book, and if you're going to Milan, don't forget your downloadable Wallpaper guide.