As another Salone del Mobile approaches, one interesting development is to see how exhibitors and the rest of the industry will respond to a new manifesto that was published ahead of the event. The manifesto calls upon the industry to up its innovation and sustainability, citing specifically the need to embrace the “circular economy” and forge meaningful relationships with cultural institutions in the city.
The manifesto is a declaration of intent geared to channelling the forces in Milan to work together to preserve the leadership role of both the city and the trade fair, and attract ideas, projects and new resources. Defending that it is more than just a trade fair but a global experience for individuals to connect with creative people in the industry.
The first real point of the manifesto is about innovation and ongoing innovation. Innovation with regard to lines, to shapes, to market approach and sales, innovation in communication, even questioning some of the brand’s anchor points without denying its history. This is a duty that the Salone companies are bound to fulfil to an even greater extent than in the past because competition has got sharper, time scales shorter and the market super-demanding. Only with continual innovation and high quality can the global challenge be won.
The Salone also has a duty to innovate itself, without compromising its very nature. It has to know how to challenge methods and criteria in a bid to raise standards and remain ahead of the game, with regard to both exhibition model and client service. The phrase we’ve always done it like this has ceased to exist, replaced by a commitment to strive to do even better and achieve more than we already are.
The second is sustainability. This I feel is something that is engrained in every designer and manufacturer that if you aren’t thinking from cradle to grave. But to point it out about environmental awareness allows visitors to hold a standard to the products being made.
And thirdly, it looks to the future of the industry. It is now time for the Salone and Milan to look to the future and engage together again in a team game in which everyone has their own part to play, the accent must not merely be on physical architecture for the city, not just on new furnishings to showcase at the Salone, but also on new models of creating design and architecture, a new way of thinking and planning. Design that goes beyond the things themselves, that looks at the people, the needs of a changing world searching for new signals, as well as at beauty and emotion in the little everyday things. Let us continue to help Milan grow with fine new futuristic architecture as well as with conversions of old buildings, let us think in terms of a joint effort to create the model of a city that is increasingly beautiful and welcoming, not just during the Salone del Mobile.
The manifesto goes on to talk about networking, communication and culture. Looking at new ways where the young and emerging can come together to share and spread ideas about the Salone and about Milano as a design epicentre.
Going beyond the concept of the Fuorisalone, the Salone transforms the city into a fluid space, open to a great many experiences and a great many opportunities for meeting and sharing. The centrality of the Salone in terms of the geography of Milan should serve as a virtuous example and a possible model for the rehabilitation of the former Expo site, to enable that space to also become a central and attractive part of the city.