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A Short Visit to Milan

My trip to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile was cut short by an emergency back home. Therefore, I had to abandon my intended full report. I’ll leave that up to the visitors and writers that had time to truly examine the whole spectrum. And I’m sure the event will be featured in all the major design publications. Instead, I figured I’d give you my short impression of the event and I’d throw in some random snapshots. If nothing else, it might inspire you while you’re trying to meet that ugly deadline that’s looming over your head.

To me, the Salone consists of three main elements.

First, the fair itself on the fairground. Giant in scope, one can get lost there for days. You’ll see the latest and greatest. With so much volume, there is a lot of crap — actually, convention halls full of it. But you’ll also find the most amazing furniture, kitchens and related elements, by the world’s best and most renown designers. You know… the furniture you dream of, but cannot afford to have. I skipped the fairgrounds altogether. After all, I would not want to travel to Italy and then spend my limited time inside a convention hall setting.

Second, and to me the more interesting element of the event, are all the participating showrooms that are spread all over town.

The day before the Salone officially opens, the city is fairly quiet, many stores are closed, getting ready for the event. While the hotel lobbies are filling with fair attendees, the showroom windows are covered with paper. Graphic designers, sign-makers and workers are hustling to put the final touches on their presentations. Painters are putting final coats on walls. It just helps to build anticipation on what might be revealed once the paper comes down and the doors finally open.

By nature in an old city, many of the modern furniture showrooms are housed in old buildings which makes for a great contrast — and works extremely well.

The third element of the event, are the dinners, receptions and parties. These are the places where you make new friends, see old friends, meet your clients, bang elbows with famous designers, enjoy delicious foods, drink too much great wine, participate in heated discussions and friendly conversations and get a crash course in grappa. It’s an element that seems to fall into place very naturally there, which is just wonderful. Oh yeah. A week is hardly enough to visit all that is happening. Needless to say, two days was hopeless.

While typing this and looking through some images, I realize that — of course — there is the fourth element: Being away from your desk. Away from your typical workday. Out of reach of deadlines. Being in a different city, around a different language. Old buildings. History. Different culture. Milan might not be the most stunning Italian city in terms of art or architecture. Rome, Florence, Venice might come to mind first. Milan is very much a business city. To me it offers a great mix or different worlds.

I highly recommend the Salone to anyone interested in the world of modern furniture. It’ll be interesting to see how the mini version of the Salone, held this may in New York, will fare.

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ARCHIVE ID 2293 FILED UNDER International
PUBLISHED ON Apr.25.2005 BY Peter Scherrer
Susan Benjamin’s comment is:


Who makes the chairs in the last photo of your Milan report? They are on castors and have a floral print. I'm an interior designer/set decorator living in LA.



On Apr.26.2005 at 07:41 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

we know who you are, Sue. You've been here before.

On Apr.26.2005 at 07:50 AM
Gianfranco Siano’s comment is:

hi Susan,

the chairs you've asked for, was photographed in the De Padova store, Corso Venezia, Milano.

On Apr.26.2005 at 09:32 AM
ps’s comment is:

susan, yes, gianfranco got it right. if you are in l.a., the local dealer is linea

On Apr.26.2005 at 10:46 AM
Daniel Green’s comment is:

Thanks for the glimpse into this event, Peter.

I’m a bit reluctant to admit knowing this, but at least a couple of the red life-size sculptures in the last photo are actually clip-art silhouettes from a mid-1990’s era Corel package. I use these same silhouettes to give a sense of scale to EGD renderings. Who’d ´┐Ża thunk I’d see them strolling the streets of Milan?

On Apr.26.2005 at 12:58 PM