Salone del Mobile.Milano at the Doorstep of the Future: Design Transforming the World

Photo Ludovica Mangini © Salone del Mobile.Milano  

The furniture fair Salone del Mobile.Milano eagerly anticipates its latest edition, with a focus on neurology, artificial intelligence, and a new research center functioning as an event and city hub, creating a unique global ecosystem...

Optimizing the experience for all those using the fair and the city during these few days is key to understanding the new content and exhibition paths in the upcoming edition of Salone del Mobile. EuroCucina and the International Bathroom Exhibition, as key testing grounds, will utilize digital tools as the primary means of connecting with the community: the communication campaign has chosen artificial intelligence to pose questions to the international community of design enthusiasts and designers.

Aware of the need for agile and fluid evolution to maintain its position as the leading event in the international furniture and design industry, Salone del Mobile.Milano (scheduled for April 16 to 21, 2024, at Rho Fiera) is rapidly advancing through evolution and metamorphosis, expanding its scope of action. In collaboration with the Department and School of Design at the Polytechnic University of Milan, a permanent observatory is being created to analyze the ecosystem of the Salone del Mobile/Milano Design Week and its impact on the community in terms of sustainability, inclusivity, circularity, growth, and skill transfer.

Photo Guido Stazzoni © Salone del Mobile.Milano

Maria Porro, president of Salone del Mobile.Milano, stated: "Milan has always been the home of Salone del Mobile, which has been the initiator of many independent initiatives that bring this special week to life. We believe that, in order to play a social and institutional role that will allow the fair to generate additional positive value for the well-being of the city and the community, it must have the ability to connect with institutions, stakeholders, and all other actors. In this regard, we wanted to explore the possibility of involving the Department and School of Design at the Polytechnic University of Milan in the study of the cultural, social, and economic nature of Salone del Mobile/Design Week in a scientific, authoritative, and unbiased manner. Our common goal is to define a permanent observatory that will develop a system for locating, observing, and interpreting what happens in the city during that specific period and promote actions that will guarantee greater sustainability, inclusivity, and circularity of the entire event. Speaking of the upcoming edition: 87% of visitors defined their Euroluce experience as unforgettable, and this result strengthens the Salone del Mobile format development project, which will cover all its pavilions by 2024. Supported by neurology and listening for workspaces, the 2024 project will focus on the best companies in the sector, with a particular emphasis on bathrooms and kitchens."

The redesign of the 62nd edition began by listening to visitors, exhibiting companies, and stakeholders, all of whom were involved in various ways, through field interviews or specialized round tables to identify perceptions, desires, and needs. Since a human-centric approach involves placing people at the center of strategic and business decisions, Salone has decided to trust in neurology. By applying its principles—Lombardini22, a leading group in the Italian architectural and engineering scene, which supported Salone last year with its project for the evolution of the fair's setup and experience—organizers analyzed the emotional and unconscious behavior of people passing through pavilions and booths to design useful and original experiences based on real behaviors and new emotional, experimental, and relational engagements aimed at enhancing the quality of events and contacts.

Photo Diego Ravier © Salone del Mobile.Milano

In this regard, the paths at EuroCucina, with FTK - Technology For the Kitchen integrated into the space, and the International Bathroom Exhibition are being redesigned—first time with neighboring, connected pavilions, optimizing time and space to further simplify visits, making them richer and more efficient, ensuring equal accessibility and visibility to all exhibitors. This will be achieved by discarding the traditional layout and redesigning the setup concentrically, with exhibitor companies placed on both sides of the boulevard in the form of a loop, like shop windows in the city center. This will provide access to all booths, covering half the distance compared to traditional setups and eliminating the risk of getting lost or confused.

Considering that neurology shows that the brain is stimulated to leave its comfort zone through art, culture, and aesthetics, which can become extremely powerful channels for opening the mind to innovative and original approaches to interpreting reality, Salone has chosen a formula that will give a new voice and space to forms of cultural cross-fertilization, enriching Euroluce and the City of Light in 2023. Days at the upcoming edition of the fair will therefore be filled with a dense schedule of conversations and workshops, designed to be educational rather than just entertaining and engaging, enriching the fair with conversations and debates among the brightest figures of the contemporary design scene. Two large installations will also be present: one in the International Bathroom Exhibition space, representing a scenic stage where data, research, and innovations related to the challenges of preserving the planet and its resources will converge; the other, in the furniture pavilions, will represent an evocative mise-en-scène of space and furniture inspired by the exceptional visions of an internationally recognized film director. Lastly, for visitors to the EuroCucina exhibition, numerous events and experiences related to Food Design will be devised.

SaloneSatellite—launchpad for young designers up to 35 years old, founded and curated by Marva Griffin Wilshire—will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special edition in Pavilions 5 and 7 on the fairgrounds and a major exhibition in the city at the Triennale di Milano, from April 16 to 28, 2024, telling the story of the world of fairs and its protagonists, its role as an international talent nest, relationships, and the magic it weaves daily, as well as the many surprises it has announced. The exhibition will showcase how, over a quarter of a century marked by significant social, economic, and environmental changes, the event has always been able to provide valuable insights into the meaning of innovations in the future, thanks to the ingenuity and passion of its participants.

Paolo Ciuccarelli

The new communication campaign for Salone del Mobile.Milano was conceived and produced by Publicis Groupe—tasked with condensing the identity, themes, and protagonists of the event, along with its evolution, into a visual, recognizable, and original narration—with scientific collaboration from Paolo Ciuccarelli, professor of design and founder of the DensityDesign Lab at the Polytechnic University of Milan and the Center for Design at Northeastern University in Boston. The campaign's tagline is "Where Design Evolves," summarizing the essence of the event, going beyond the idea of it as a simple destination but showing that the setup within which design happens evolves and defines the future. Publicis Groupe decided to use generative artificial intelligence to understand, analyze, and visualize stories, relationships, and emotions that the fair conveys throughout the year. A new omnichannel communication platform will be launched in the coming weeks, telling the story of Salone del Mobile.Milano from a completely different, multidimensional perspective, merging art, design, and technology. Thanks to AI processes, discussions on relevant topics will be analyzed, while debates animating the community, the voices of brands, designers, and visitors will be intercepted in real time, with the most significant reflections directed towards the constantly evolving, fluid platform. This will allow the most valuable insights to be located and catalyzed to generate creativity and artistic systems capable of expressing, interpreting, and enhancing the event and the culture of implemented design. By integrating human creativity with the innovative potential of artificial intelligence, the visuals of the campaign will become real reservoirs of experiences, memories, and conversations in constant transformation to live-stream perceptions triggered by the fair.

Although innovations mainly encompass the digital part, the Salone del Mobile online platform—which serves as the primary form of connection with visitors and exhibitors—will have an even more crucial role, expanding and strengthening connections to create a fully rounded experience that will be engaging throughout the year, aimed at nurturing relationships with the community on social media. For exhibitors, connecting services and booth meeting scheduling systems will be fundamental, serving to optimize time at the fair and help achieve quality contacts. Visitors, on the other hand, will find online ticket purchasing and orientation services toward exhibitors extremely useful, along with the ability to create lists of brands they want to visit. To strengthen its ties and relationship with the community, Salone is working on projects capable of presenting the complex world of design in a contemporary narrative key, including authoritative figures from the sector who will not only bring their professional value but will add depth and authenticity to the story. This has led to the web series "Behind the Doors," for example, and the podcast "Design Forward," both with a balance of high-quality content, diversification, new languages, and distribution on multiple platforms, reflecting Salone del Mobile's ongoing commitment to valorizing the complex world full of stories, perspectives, and information.

Photo Diego Ravier © Salone del Mobile.Milano  

Environmental, economic, and social responsibility will once again be a priority in the 2024 edition, confirming the "good practices" that enabled the fair to achieve certification for sustainable event management according to ISO 20121 in 2023. Today, sustainability is no longer a differentiator and a competitive element but a condition without which there is no chance of entering the market: thus, Salone is launching a "responsible" revolution in the fair world, applying a concrete, quantitative, and broad approach and creating one of the most important meanings of that word—circularity and regeneration. To this end, the large square and arena will once again be used for immersive and reflective experiences, as well as a bookstore, an intimate, warm, comprehensive project, both designed by the Formafantasma studio. As in previous years, the fair will seek suppliers of recycled, recyclable, or reusable materials for the construction of common parts and enrich the guidelines for sustainable installations exhibited by companies.

To encourage visits at the international level and contemplate the future of home life together with the entire design community, confirming its position as the destination of excellence for all involved in furniture and architecture 365 days a year, Salone del Mobile.Milano has just completed a European tour that included Paris, London, Berlin, and Copenhagen. After the event in Miami, it will visit the United States, starting from Dallas (January 23), New York (January 25), Las Vegas (February 20), and Chicago (February 22). The North American part of the tour is planned and coordinated with the support of the ITA – Italian Trade Agency, which promotes and internationalizes Italian companies abroad, in collaboration with local branches of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The tour will continue to provide an opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing the design world and what the future of life will look like, thanks to the contribution of special guests who will, through dialogue, promote design culture. Once again, to broaden the field of discussion, some of the most renowned hospitality spaces will be selected for meetings, emphasizing how the event focuses on the out-of-home aspect of life, with handmade solutions from the sector.

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