The Fair which Sets Example: Salone del Mobile Milano

There are many fairs in Europe and many cities claim to have that ‘special’ expo in this or that field. However, some fairs stand out and set an example to the others. As Monocle’s recent review notes, the 56th edition of Salone del Mobile in Milan could teach the world’s other fairs a few things.

The Salone del Mobile is essentially all about the product: pieces presented here for the first time, or presented again for the second or third time (or perhaps even more), because they are still bestsellers or have, in any case, earned their place in the catalogues of exhibiting firms because they have become representative of home living trends. What these pieces have in common is innovation, research and quality; a collateral of the event itself. It is at the Salone that trends are born, new talents are recognized and, equally, that positions and strategies are consolidated.

The watchword for 2017 is CONTEMPORARY ELEGANCE – which fluctuates between minimalism and functionality, between artisan skills, digital know how and technological innovation – which is essentially sought after for its power to conjure up “beautiful” emotions and to overcome the barriers of stylistic subdivision.

Monocle noted that the names making the biggest noise at this year’s Salone are not companies known for their high-end design.

Swedish brand Ikea’s debut in Milan has created a splash with it taking over a massive warehouse and running an event programme akin to a festival. It has attracted a younger yet still discerning design consumer to view its collections and engage in a spot of yoga too. Fashion brands from Germany’s sandal master Birkenstock – unveiling its new bed range – to Sweden’s Cos are also showcasing attempts to cross over into the design realm. In an industry in need of a shake-up, where star designers spread themselves very thinly across many companies, it is refreshing to see some new faces entering the fray.

It is clear why this show attracts designers, architects, journalists and anybody who can legitimately flaunt an interest in furniture, to flock to Milan for a few days. Monocle put it right – No other design trade show comes close to rivalling Salone’s dominance but be it furniture, books or food, when it comes to trade fairs Milan seems to have found its stride. Frankfurt, Köln and Munich may love a messe but Milan could teach them a thing or two when it comes to getting the city’s central neighbourhoods involved and how to capitalise on events long after visitors have checked out of their (overpriced) hotels. It is estimated that the Expo 2015 fair alone generated a €31m turnover, created 242,000 jobs and encouraged the opening of 500 restaurants in the months before it wrapped up.

This year, Salone del Mobile will include the lesser-known design districts Cadore and Isola to its list of locations for off-site events which will certainly create an additional positive effect to these neighborhoods and increase the overall positive impact on the city of Milan.

Note the date and don’t miss if you are in the region: April 4-9, 2017. 

For more info on the fair, visit the official website of the Salon.

Photo credits: Salone del Mobile Milano /
First photo: Andrea Mariani
Photos 2, 3 and 4: Saverio Lombardi Vallauri