Zona Tortona is regarded as a sister show, or “satellite exhibit,” to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile; however, it was at Zona Tortona that I found some of the most innovative and forward-moving designs this week in Milan. Zona Tortona takes place in a neighborhood where the streets via Zona and via Tortona cross. Historically this neighborhood was an industrial area with rows of compact tenement housing placed in between factories. The transformation from commerce to creative space began in the early 80s when artists and designers were being pushed into the outskirts of the city at the same time that industry started moving further into the countryside. Today, Zona Tortona is known around the world as an art and design district and is universally recognized for the exhibit that runs concurrently with iSaloni.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

Zona Tortona, Milan Furniture Fair

As a visitor from Brooklyn I felt a strong connection with this area of Milan and was very fortunate to meet several environmentally conscious designers who were more than thrilled to show their work at the fair. Spread out over several city blocks the exhibit consisted of indoor and outdoor installations set in between courtyards, exhibition spaces, private studios and shops.

Veuve Cliquot Chandeliers, sustainable lighting, eco-friendly lighting, resource conservation furniture, recycled materials lighting

These twinkling orb chandeliers are made from repurposed Veuve Clicquot boxes.

Philippe Rahm, the winner of the Carte Blanche Grant, presented his project, “De-Territorialized Mileus, a “climate-related performance installation” that considers the relationships between indoor and outdoor and artificial and natural surroundings. His working hypothesis was on display as futuristic forms of air purification, heating and lighting, all which have the end goal of “naturalizing” an indoor living space in phase with the external environment, but without the negative effects of atmospheric pollution and global warming.

Parupu paper pulp chair, milan furniture fair 2009, zona tortona, paper pulp furniture, recycled furniture, contemporary furniture, recycled paper pulp, wood conservation, resource conservation furniture, eco friendly chairs, recycled materials chairs, cardboard chairs

Children’s chair design by Claesson Koivisto Rune. It is made from Duraplupl which is a combination of pulp and PLA (a corn starch based plastic). It is 100% compostable.


Ricrea’s Garofano Garden Seat (above, left) is made out of soft plastic waste. Essent’ial presented their eco armchairs (above, right) and footrest, made from recycled paper and stuffed with recyclable materials like cast-off clothes, newspapers and plastic bottles.

Corque’s mission is to promote eco-efficient and sustainable ways of production and consumption, focusing on designing objects made from cork. With candlestick holders that fit into bottles, chairs, ice buckets, tables and trivets, Corque was at Zona Tortona for the first time to talk about the sustainability and versatility of this renewable resource. Based in Portugal, Corque utilizes their country’s indigenous stock of cork oak while working closely with preservation committees to ensure cork supplies for the future.

From the town of Punkahrju, Finland, PunkAlive introduced a fluid and aesthetically-pleasing furniture line made out of Kerto®, an environmentally friendly laminated veneer lumber that is made from Finnish spruce by gluing rotary-peeled veneers into continuous panels. PunkAlive’s new line includes armchairs, standard chairs, dinner tables, ottomans, sideboards and storage units.


Studiodsgn unveiled their prototype model of the C60, a modular lighting unit comprised of recyclable PMMA hexagons and 360 LED lights.

Karton Art Design developed a a method of folding and clipping cardboard so that their finished products are as strong as wood and as light as paper — and can be integrated with existing wood products.

Be sure to check out our full 2009 Milan Furniture Fair coverage for more great green designs from the show!

+ 2009 Milan Furniture Fair Coverage

+ 2009 Milan Furniture Fair Photo Gallery