The Salone Internaztionale del Mobile held once a year during April in the Italian design capital of Milan is a must see. It is there that Italian furniture companies present their latest designs and products, each brand vying for attention by demonstrating it creativity, design innovation and advancements in design technology of that year.
Stands housing contemporary and classic designs for home, kitchens and bath are erected in the massive pavilions of the Fiera in Rho, Milan’s permanent exhibit space.
Producers come to show, designers come to personally present their new ideas and clients come to select and order pieces for showrooms or personal homes.
The whole city takes on a life that many Milanese claim occurs only during this week in April. Not even Milan fashion week with all its glamour and hype can overshadow the Salone del Mobile. The design theme creeps into everything; whether it’s the store window displays or shops extending their opening hours and the numerous installations and art exhibits scheduled around the fair.
It is also far more democratic than Milan Fashion Week. Presentation cocktail parties are often open to the public, and one can trip across celebrity designers like Philippe Starck, Stefano Giovannoni, Marcel Wanders and Karim Rashid who are more often than not quite willing to talk with press and fans casually.
“For me it is the one fair; there is not another fair, this is it,” says Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. “For me to describe it well I keep telling myself that this is the new year of the design … For me New Year’s is nothing, for me this is New Year’s.”
Watching different designers meet and greet is also intriguing. Italian designer Stafano Giovannoni shared laughs and words with Wanders. Phillippe Starck kept waving hello to a fellow designer while being interviewed by Daily News Egypt.
“The presence of huge firms that produce design like Moroso, Kartell, Edra … it’s really interesting to go and see what’s happening,” explains Rosita Missoni, head designer of Missoni Home. “You have a panorama of design from all over the world; lots of foreign designers design for Italian industries, so this is the country for design. They are Dutch, French, English, American. All come to produce because Italy has the skill and the industries that love design and that do the effort.”
For buyers who carry these brands back home it was a successful fair. Shaden Abdelhak, president of Art of Form explains, “It was a very busy fair. All the companies were very happy with the outcome of the fair. There was a lot of interest worldwide. Clearly the economic crisis has been lifted so there was a lot of interest, and companies were very happy with the new orders [coming in].”
“It was busy, vibrant. There were a lot of designers for each brand, a lot of practical solutions for every room. In Moroso for example there were a lot of different, eclectic, fun pieces but they were practical items and well priced as well.”
Not only do established brands display their pieces, but young Italian designers are given a space to show in zones designated to youth creativity and design. Such as Zona Tortona, oftentimes bustling with energy and creativity well into the late hours of the night.
These satellite exhibits often are where real groundbreaking designs are shown as young designers do not have to worry about marketing their goods like official design companies, explains Missoni.