The wait is over, with the doors to the 61st edition of Milan’s Salone del Mobile now open. Italy’s blue-ribbon event for the furniture and design sector, this year’s show has returned to its traditional April timeslot after various date changes following the pandemic. Officially opened by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Salone president Maria Porro, and high-ranking officials from the City of Milan and the Lombardy Region, the event marks Milan’s true return to the international spotlight, with advance ticket sales already 33% up on 2022 and over two thousand exhibitors from almost 40 countries around the globe.
“We’re presenting a reworked 61st edition, fresher and more user-friendly, vital and vibrant,” says Porro. “It looks to the future of the tradeshow experience, underpinned by the confidence and commitment of those who appreciate its value and want to preserve it. It will be a Salone packed with new things and open to cross-pollination. Design and furniture are fueled by science, technological research, art, photography, digital communication, publishing, and much more, and the new exhibition format underscores these relationships, offering an even greater depth of vision.”
Among the major trends on show are sustainability and wellness, with nature the underlying theme, both in the choice of natural materials (wood, stone, marble, and paper) and fabrics (cotton, velvet , wool, and jute). But there’s no lack of glass and metals, used to give pieces transparency through airy, subtly colored designs that respond to the desire for lightness and space. Salone has trained a spotlight on a tendency to see furniture in terms of a direct relationship with nature, with the outdoor areas of the home increasingly becoming a new living space, often as an extension of, and influence on, the interior. Respect for the environment is also taking the form of a rediscovery of traditional local materials and materials linked to local cultures. Companies and designers are therefore on the lookout for raw materials with a connection to place, ancient and traditional manufacturing techniques, and creating objects that express true craft skill. The same is true for colors, which are tending towards gentle, light, bright, and warm tones intended to recall nature.
This year’s Salone is intended to play an active role in redefining the trade fair concept. The events held under the umbrella of 2023’s Salone will have new locations, while the layout of Euroluce has been completely overhauled by Lombardini22. The aim is to have the work of exhibitors and designers transport visitors on a genuine aesthetic and cultural journey that’s full of events and installations, as well as lounge areas and a specialist library. The exhibition design was the work of Formafantasma, while the cultural component was curated by Beppe Finessi.
As part of the organizers’ commitment to place the focus on visitors, exhibitors, and their experiences, this year’s Salone features three major innovations: The show is on a single level, with the upper-level booths (8–12, 16–20) relocated downstairs. The redesign is intended to create a clear system of pathways based around aesthetics, different narratives, and the various target markets, and therefore make visiting the event more efficient and effective, and to expand opportunities for meeting and interacting with the different exhibitors. Secondly, Euroluce now has a ring-shaped layout intended to help visitors meet all the exhibitors in the space of a few hundred yards, without the frustration of missing out on something or having to plan their route beforehand. Finally, Euroluce now has a marked cultural component organized around its multidisciplinary content. Featuring themed sections, talks, and site-specific installations, this rethink was the work of a team of professionals from different fields, generations, and origins, ranging from architecture to photography and art.
“Being a positive and innovative catalyst for ideas, projects, and relationships is what makes Salone an international focal point,” continued Maria Porro. “In fact, 34% of our exhibitors – a figure that has risen steadily year by year – are from different countries besides Italy. We’re also expecting thousands of visitors from Europe, the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India, and the Far East. We believe that the Salone should reflect the quality and excellence of an entire manufacturing system. It should be an event that acts as a cultural bridge, an economic driver, and an accelerator of positive environmental change. We also believe it should be an event in which tradition and rigor mix with passion and an ability to anticipate and produce innovation. This is why design, and the entire design community, will continue to find Salone an inspirational place to visit and spend time.”
Individual photo credits are included in each gallery image