Salone del Mobile 2024 (AKA Salone del Check-in).

With 35 years of experience attending the Salone del Mobile in Milan, I feel confident in sharing my short perspective on this year’s Milan furniture fair.

The curtains have closed on another edition of the Salone, leaving me to reflect on the highlights and disappointments of the renowned furniture fair. As the dust settles, a sentiment seems to echo among visitors I’ve spoken to: a lack of innovation and originality among most of the industry’s major players.

In a sea of big brands, the landscape was cluttered with familiar products and recycled designs, leading to a sense of confusion rather than inspiration. The outdoor category, in particular, took center stage, with nearly every exhibitor showcasing their al fresco offerings. However, amidst the abundance of outdoor furniture, there was a distinct absence of groundbreaking design.

Rope, a nice recurring trend in recent years, made its presence felt once again, but -with few exceptions- failed to offer anything truly remarkable in terms of design innovation. Even companies, known for their innovative approach, jumped on the rope bandwagon with little to differentiate their offerings from the competition.

The long, knotty, world of the outdoors.

The dearth of originality seemed to prompt a nostalgic revival of designs from the 60s and 70s, complete with vibrant pop colors reminiscent of that era. This retro aesthetic extended beyond furniture, influencing even fashion brands who showcased rounded and curvilinear models in line with the pop trend.

Pop colors and retro look

Once again, Italian brands erected imposing barriers and huge walls, making the atmosphere at the Salone del Mobile darker than ever before and difficult to navigate.

…just another brick in the wall!

A significant issue with navigating the fair has arisen from the requirement of many companies to scan a barcode for access to their stands (yes! …long, annoying, nonsense check-ins!). This procedure entails enduring long queues, followed by waiting for a confirmation email before gaining access, resulting in congestion and delays throughout the exhibition corridors. Do companies truly comprehend the investment of time and money made by professionals, some traveling more than 20 hours from distant locations like Arizona (me), Japan, Australia, etc… to attend the fair? It’s not merely the cost of airline tickets, but also expenses for accommodations and meals in the most expensive city in Italy. Subjecting attendees to extensive waiting periods just to view some furniture is indeed shocking! In light of this, it’s worth noting that attendees must also register and pay to access the fair.

Fuori Salone? …no thank you!

I couldn’t help but notice a certain lackluster atmosphere, and frankly, I found the Fuori Salone events to be disappointingly underwhelming.As attendees depart the Salone del Mobile, they are left pondering the future direction of design and whether the industry’s biggest players will rise to the challenge of innovation or continue to rely on recycled concepts and trends of yesteryear. Only time will tell if the next edition will offer a more compelling vision of the future of furniture design.

Antonio Larosa

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