Design – On April 18, Milan’s Salone del Mobile 2023 will welcome professionals hoping to at least score pre-Covid 19 figures [386.000 visitors in 2019 and 434.000 in 2018]. In the meantime, the world has changed, and there has been much reflection, research, and questioning about the future of trade fairs.
In the past two editions, many important and influential companies decided not to exhibit at the fair, opting for an alternative presence in town. The 2.418 exhibitors in 2019 have become 1.962 this year. On top of that, the delicate international situation, Russian sanctions, global skyrocketing inflation, and the energy crisis have put the design sector to the test.
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THE SINGLE-LEVEL EXHIBITION FORMAT
“The idea of simply reverting to April, our traditional spot in the calendar, after three years, as if nothing had happened, was unthinkable.” Says Maria Porro, President of the Salone del Mobile.Milano which is still considered the world’s most influential design fair.
“We listened to the needs of those who make and experience the Salone, exhibitors and visitors alike, holding more than 2,300 interviews and themed work groups.” From here, the organisers devised a new single-level exhibition format developed to simplify, improve and enhance accessibility and the visitor experience.
THE NEW EUROLUCE
Euroluce, the biennial exhibition dedicated to lighting design [Pavilion 9-11 and 13-15], has been radically reimagined. Rather than being stand-centric, the new display by studio Lombardini22 is a true City of Lights, integrating the spaces for companies with interdisciplinary cultural content connected with the relationship between light, architecture, art, and science.
FormaFantasma transforms public spaces into squares and creates a large plaza and arena for immersive and reflective experiences as well as a venue for a number of talks. The studio is also responsible for twelve Constellations, architectural ‘intermezzos’ that will host exhibitions curated by Beppe Finessi.
YOUNG TALENTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The next generation of designers debuts at Salone Satellite within Euroluce. Under the theme Design Schools – Universities / BUILDING THE (IM)POSSIBLE. Process, Progress, Practice, 27 participating schools and universities bring forward the work of their students.
A SUSTAINABLE PROMISE
Maria Porro says environmental, economic, and social responsibility is a priority. “We decided to embark on the process for ISO 20121 certification, believing it crucial to continue along our path towards sustainability whilst taking careful note of our progress.”
Salone del Mobile 2023 identified suppliers of recycled, recyclable, and/or reusable materials for building the common parts and will endeavour to regenerate the resources consumed and absorb the waste produced.
China has recently reopened its frontiers with the hope of Chinese buyers back in Milan, while sanctions will only partly affect the Russian presence. Some of the most important companies, such as FLOS and MOROSO, have chosen to continue to stay out of the fair.
Not everyone was happy about the single-level solution. The exhibitors of the canceled Classic style pavilion pulled out in a sign of protest. “The Italian design industry closed 2022 with a +8%, good but much less than the +14% of 2021. While big international brands are in good health, smaller companies – especially in the classic style sector – were more exposed to energy and materials rising costs [but also Russian sanction, editor’s note].” Said Salone del Mobile. “Instead of supporting us, they penalize who resists and grows,” said Renzo Modenese of Modenese Luxury Interiors, +35% in 2022.