At the Salone del Mobile 2023 the business world was turned topsy turvy: the flâneur was a target group of the international fair

Euroluce: art installation by Enzo Cattelani (1989): “The machine that produces the little lights,“ at the stand of the company <a href=""target="_blank">Catellani & Smith</a>. Foto: Firma

The 4 halls of Euroluce invited to promenade and to establish contacts between companies and NEW customers

The fact that international fairs have to reinvent themselves has been in the air for some years. Because today meeting with old customers often takes place at in-house fairs, where several companies join together. From now on, genuine trade shows, especially international ones, are expected to bring exhibitors into contact with new customers, also from abroad.

Perhaps a ground-breaking concept on this subject was presented by the world’s leading furniture and furnishings fair, Salone del Mobile in Milan, at its 61st edition (April 18 -23, 2023): the 4 halls of its themed Euroluce had an innovative layout that invited visitors to stroll around.

This is new and unexpected because a trade show is about business – the flâneur, on the other hand, as he emerged after 1850 in major cities around the world, wanders aimlessly, drifting here and there, enjoying the diversity of his habitat.

With regard to the new concept of the Salone, one must keep in mind that everywhere at trade fairs the hall areas are divided into rectangular booths, and that in many cases these booths seal themselves off from the outside with high walls. Access is granted only to those who register.

Particularly glaring at the Salone in this regard are Halls 1 and 3 – the visitor who does not have an appointment at a booth is literally chased away in some places by their inhospitality.

We show as a contrast to the layout in 2 halls each of Euroluce:

Euroluce: layout of halls 9 (left) and 11 with boulevard for strolling.

On the sides, there were still the right-angled stands, but in front of them there was a round course for strolling. Note: firstly, this route was as wide as a boulevard, secondly, the stands were all open, although there was certainly partitioning, but this in a discreet manner.

It is clear that such a concept entails a waste of exhibition space for the organizer, commercially speaking.

In this respect, it suited the exhibition company that this time, instead of the 2175 exhibitors in 2022, there were only “more than 2000,“ according to the final report. After all: despite this vague information, the decline was so significant that all areas on the upper levels of the halls remained closed.

The exhibition company had touted this in the announcements as more convenience for visitors.

The layout experiment for Euroluce took up a lot of space in the fair’s closing statement. Maria Porro, president of the Salone, commented: “We are pleased at how we managed to put visitors at the centre, and at how they found their own way around..; (we are pleased) with the opportunity the exhibitors had to introduce themselves and make themselves known not just to their target groups but also to new interlocutors with whom they came into contact thanks to the new layout.“
In short: “We have learned several important lessons from this edition: that it is indeed possible to redesign a huge event like the Salone in order to propel it into the future, that sustainability really is achievable when the entire system pulls together, and that new content can be devised and employed in order to generate knowledge, growth and value.“

In terms of the number of visitors, there was a significant increase of +15% (2023: 307,418) compared to the previous year. They came from 181 countries. 65% were from abroad. The order by country was: China before Italy, Germany, France, USA, Spain and Brazil. Last year there were practically no Chinese guests because of Covid; there were no Russians this time either because of the Ukraine war.

5400 journalists were accredited, 47% of them from abroad.

The export organization ICE together with the organization Simest had brought 220 buyers and 240 journalists from 64 countries with state money.

A special focus of the fair promotion this year was on the Internet and social media.

Salone Satellite: installation by designer <a href=""target="_blank">Federica Breedveld Bortolozzo</a>.

A highlight of the fair was, as usual, the SaloneSatellite, a forum for young designers under the age of 35 and for design schools, which presented their ideas at the end of the site in Hall 24. This initiative has been around since 1998, and this time 550 young people and 28 schools from 18 countries came together. The focus was on solutions for where design can go in times of climate change and CO2 savings.

The next fair will take place from April 16 – 21, 2024.

Salone del Mobile

Salone Satellite

Light installation by the Czech company <a href=""target="_blank">Preciosa</a>.Euroluce: quiet zone with rocks.Light portal several meters high by the company <a href=""target="_blank">Luce5</a>.Natural stone wall lamps by company <a href=""target="_blank">Sovet</a>.Ceramic charging stations, <a href=""target="_blank">Kettal</a> company.Marble decorative object, seen at the booth of <a href=""target="_blank">4Mariani</a> company.Marble office lamp, seen at the booth of <a href=""target="_blank">4Mariani</a> company.

More reports:
* At the Design Week and the FuoriSalone 2023 in downtown Milan, parallel to the large Salone del Mobile fair, numerous companies and initiatives from all over the world presented themselves again
* Salone del Mobile 2023: our photo gallery gives an overview of how designers are currently using natural stone to design the stands and the furniture pieces

See also:

(10.05.2023, USA: 05.10.2023)