Milan, Italy, is home to thousands of designers engaged in architecture, interior design, and industrial design. Most are trained as architects. The Politecnico di Milano has nearly 15,000 students of architecture within its seven-year curriculum; and of the nearly 4,000 first-year students, 1,000 choose to pursue furniture, industrial design, and interior design as a focal track within the culture and curriculum of architecture. Many of these students will design furniture, and some will fabricate. Most will develop careers within related professional tracks while maintaining their affinity to, interest in, and passion for furniture design.
Milan is home to over 30 international journals that focus on furniture design in both theme and content. Ottagano, Domus, Arbitare, and Interni are examples of journals that regularly feature trends in furniture and showcase the designers. The magazines, journals, and books on Italian furniture design are the marketing engine behind the national and global success that Italy has enjoyed for the past 30 years. The concentration of significant furniture design magazines and journals marks Milan as a major design center that promotes Italian design worldwide.
Meda is a modest-sized city one hour north of Milan by train. It is located in the heart of Brianza, a region of northern Italy defined by Milan to the south, Como to the north, and Bergamo to the
east. Meda is also an epicenter (but different from Milan), home to hundreds of furniture production and fabrication companies. For centuries, this region has maintained a tradition of furniture production that speaks to the workmanship of craft. Its history and the quality of its work make it an influential center of production. It is renowned for its cottage industries and the production of high-end furniture. B & B Italia, Cassina, Giogetti, Flou, Zanotta, and Interfex are some of the hundreds of furniture companies located in and around Meda. Over 33,000 custom fabrication shops (bottegas) and mid-sized companies produce furniture in Brianza. Nearly 20,000 shops employ fewer than 10 artigani (craftspeople).4
East of Brianza is the region of Friuli in Udine—an area that has been linked with the yearly Italian exhibit Promosedia. In the region of Friuli, large quantities of moderately priced furniture pieces are produced and distributed throughout the world. Technology employed in the production of these works is largely industrial. Friuli and Brianza are two distinct epicenters in Italy that have an international presence (albeit through noticeably different markets, fabrication technologies, and marketing strategies) and generate a significant industrial base for Italy, Europe, and the world.