The prowess of Milan

Beyond the pandemic, the fears and hardships, beyond marketing strategies and public relations: Milan moves on. The Supersalone and Fuorisalone have confirmed the Lombardy capital’s role of worldwide leadership in the field of furnishings

Stefano Boeri, Maria Porro, Claudio Feltrin
Stefano Boeri, Maria Porro, Claudio Feltrin

“Better than expected.” This was the phrase heard most often among design and luxury professionals starting on Sunday 5 September, the first day of the Supersalone and the second of the Fuorisalone.

There was no need to wait for the official tallies to get a clear idea of the success of the design week in Milan: those with retail facilities in town have always had advantages of position, and design weeks without the Salone have happened twice (September 2020 and April 2021). But the week from 5 to 12 September was still needed, to fully grasp the impact of an untraditional event like the Supersalone, and its repercussions on the overall scene: and the results were very positive indeed.

Starting with the quality of the offerings on view, the number of participants, the new proposals. In spite of a lack of the outlandish installations that have always attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, and in spite of the lack of sector professionals from certain geographical areas (hampered by emergency measures, such as China, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, above all), the event demonstrated that the machine has never stopped working. A year and a half of unobtrusive effort have demonstrated that the industry – full of family businesses with a clear commercial vocation – has been able to adapt to the situation, in an energetic rebound.

The second most common phrase, however, was “things will never go back to the way they were,” which is probably true enough, given the fact that companies and other players have discovered that it is possible to work and to rack up sales without compulsive travel. Those who have developed international relationships over the years, for a selected few or for many counterparts, have managed to continue their growth, making better use of technology. Paradoxically, but quite obviously, the pandemic has shortened distances, and this is anything but a banal development.

The budgets for 2022 of the companies and the connected supply chains will be constructed in a different way. Projects for trade fair booths will be conceived (perhaps) on a smaller scale, while communication and marketing will be assigned greater value. In this field, companies will have to boost their resources and their expertise.

And what about digital channels? They have been the key to survival, but now they are taking on a different, supplementary and vertical role, because paper is to quality information as trade fair booths are to sales. This last week has clearly demonstrated that the right proportion is being found.

Sixty thousand visitors for 425 brands at the Supersalone, 35,000 visitors at the Milan Triennale, a Fuorisalone that presented 900 designers, 600 events and a record-breaking audience. Outstanding numbers, considering the national and international conditions under which the events took place.

From 5 to 10 April 2022 there will be the 60th edition of the Salone del Mobile: probably “things will never go back to the way they were,” but inevitably they will also be “better than expected.”