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The Salone del Mobile 2020 has been cancelled due to Coronavirus. Some thoughts on what’s next

written by Laura Traldi

The Salone del Mobile 2020 has been canceled as a consequence of the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy. The news was already going around on Wednesday amongst a few people but was leaked by an Italian financial paper last night while it will be officially announced today.

UPDATE 27 MARCH, EVENING. The dates for the Salone del Mobile 2021 were announced: April 13-18. It will be the 60th edition and it will include also lighting, kitchens, offices and bathrooms, for the first time together in one show.

It was a painful decision given the huge and induced business that the most important furniture fair in the world brings to Milan every year. We are talking about 120 million euros for the Salone del Mobile alone. And another 250 million if we add the proceeds for moving, welcoming and supporting the visitors. That, in 2019, there were over 380 thousand, not to mention everything that revolves around the Fuorisalone.

After the postponement in June, therefore, and then the promise to make a final decision on the actual realization of the Salone del Mobile 2020 by April 3, the announcement arrives today. The Salone del Mobile 2020 has been canceled.

Discussions about what to do, how to replace the physical event with a virtual ad hoc solution have been on the agenda for weeks. The first was Dezeen’s, who would replace the fair on the dates originally chosen for the event (in April). After the name change and the cancellation of the event, in the midst of controversy, many are now trying to understand how to give space to business news at least in terms of communication. Magazines, first of all. From Stylepark – which started immediately after Dezeen – to Domus, where Walter Mariotti is trying to gather creative ideas and collaborations around itself .

Personally I believe that the theme of a virtual Salone del Mobile 2020 hould and can only be managed by the organizers of the Salone del Mobile. With this, I mean a platform allowing access to contents, perhaps in augmented reality, and above all an exchange of live deals, via chat, between buyers and businesses. While, obviously, a platform that only acts as a sounding board for news, could become the prerogative of any newspaper or magazine.

The most profitable and efficient thing would obviously be to put the two together and create a single solution that is virtual fair and collective post-event memory. To be used this year as a replacement for the Salone del Mobile 2020 and, from next year, as a communication medium to rationalize the number of visitors as well. A co-designed and co-owned project, for the benefit of the overall design system.

However, I am pretty sure it will be almost impossible to build the required consensus to do this, also considering the very poor level of understanding of the potential of digital technologies from many decision-makers who still perceive the word “virtual” as an enemy that would take away their livelihood of the actual fair.

This is obviously not the case, quite the opposite, in fact.

Just think about how exponentially has been growing, in recent years, the amount of visitors coming to the Milan Design Week and Salone del Mobile. And how difficult to manage the situation was. We talked about it here, highlighting the need to assess the quality of the visitors. Because it’s great to have crowds in a city event but at the fair? where people need time and space to discuss deals?

Now, in the heart of the storm, perhaps we have the opportunity to rethink the fair model too. Without giving up the physical one – especially in the high-end furniture sector it will always be vital. But rationalizing it. Selecting the audience of professionals from that of simple enthusiasts. Adding to the Salone del Mobile another layer of communication capable of expanding its reach globally, while reducing the number of trips.

We had already talked about the need to rationalize and requalify the number of visitors here, regarding the Fuorisalone.

What will happen to Fuorisalone now? The question is open …

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