As Milan’s Design Week gets under way, CLARK KELLY looks at what’s in store for an expected 300,000 visitors
Fifty years after Milan rocked the design world with the first edition of its Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the popular event returns to the city’s downtown fairgrounds in Rho from April 17 to 22.
It is, quite simply, the biggest and most-looked-forward-to international design event and it is where design trends first appear on the radar. Some 2,720 exhibitors attended the fair last year, up from 2,499 in 2010, and a similar number are expected to up the design ante in 2012 as well, say organisers Cosmit and FederlegnoArredo. More than 300,000 visitors are expected to beat a path to the Salone, testifying to the quality of the array of goods on offer and to the organisation of the event.
Over nearly 530,000 sq m of exhibition space, five different exhibitions will focus on different areas of the interiors trade, including EuroCucina (the International Kitchen Furniture Exhibition), the International Bathroom Exhibition, the International furnishing Accessories Exhibition and SaloneSatellite.
Of particular interest to the Middle East will be the bathrooms section, where exhibitors hope to attract buyers from the region. Despite the grim global economic situation, the bathroom sector remained largely stable between January and September 2011, with the most positive signals from the region, where 50 per cent of companies retailing in the area having indicated rising sales, show organisers say.
This year’s sub event will feature 170 major bathroom sector players displaying a wide range of goods from bathroom accessories and furniture to shower enclosures and saunas, sanitary ware, taps, bath and hydromassage tubs.
The novelty this year lies in the huge range of natural bathroom products for accessorising and covering, a reflection of the way in which the sector has embraced contemporaneity, lifting bathrooms out of their purely functional role to become spaces where style and image matter, bolstered by technology. The tremendous advances in the craft and use of marble, onyx, slate and natural stone go hand in hand with international design and architectural developments, with skilful fusions of design, craftsmanship and high-end manufacturing making high-impact products that play on the particular characteristics of the materials involved, suitable for every sort and kind of environment.
An added plus this year is a large wellness centre, offering massages, aromatherapy and herbal infusions.
Nearby, EuroCucina will feature all the items that help to make the rituals of eating and conviviality easier and more special. This sub-section will for the first time also feature kitchen equipment and accessories, while the nearby FTK (Technology for the Kitchen), puts the focus firmly on technological innovation in built-in domestic appliances and cooker hoods.
More than 130 participants will be showcasing their wares, with the foremost German companies in the vanguard. EuroCucina dictates the sectoral trends, showcasing the very finest Italian and international products, catering to all tastes and all demands: from classic kitchens to designer kitchens made from a range of different materials – from metal, to brick to wood, with the accent particularly on natural solutions.
Suggestions and solutions for a domestic space that has built on its original function and become increasingly a space for socialising.
Technology also comes to the fore at the annual SaloneSatellite, a show of work by young designers. Last year, 700 attended, hoping to make contact with exhibiting companies looking for new ideas, and at least another 50 are expected this year. Over the years, this section of the fair has emerged as the most avant-garde, with its designers offering a sneak peek into the wild new future – from idealistic and ambitious designs with social agendas to individualistic, tongue-in-cheek creations.
The International Furnishing Accessories Exhibition, in its 26th edition, will however be the main section every designer will throng to. The area showcases the best the world of furnishing accessories has to offer in terms of typology – accessories, objects, ornaments and decorations, fabrics – and style – from classical design to modern. Among the myriad proposals from about 190 exhibitors will be products ranging from bedroom furniture to interiors ideas for living and dining, garden suggestions, knick knacks, furnishings and decorative items as well as specific pieces for children and teenagers.
Saloni 2012 Figures
Place: Milan Fairgrounds, Rho
Date: April 17 to 22, 2012
Time: 9.30am to 6.30pm. Open to trade only. Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd April open to the public
SaloneSatellite: Open to the public every day during the trade show from 9.30am to 6.30pm. Free entry