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The 57th edition of Salone del Mobile.Milano takes place April 17–22. Arguably the biggest annual event for the design industry, Salone will be packed this year with programming and over 2,000 exhibitors, while attracting many more satellite presentations, exhibitions, and happenings around the city. Whitewaller spoke with the president of Salone del Mobile, Claudio Luti, about a focus on the future, including technology and sustainability.
WHITEWALLER: What role do you see Salone del Mobile playing culturally in Milan each year?
CLAUDIO LUTI: Salone del Mobile is an important reality for the furniture sector, for the city of Milan, and also for Italy. The Salone is a very important reality: It can exist only in Milan, because of the industrial system connected to the creative and editorial system closely linked to the city and its suburbs. The Salone is not a fair, but a moment of industrial and entrepreneurial culture, able to combine beauty, and offering emotions. And Milan is at the center. Salone del Mobile and Milan could not exist one without one another.
WW: You’ve spoken of design as something that is felt. Would you say that good design is only achieved through passion?
CL: Passion is fundamental in every moment, in every action of our lives, and in all professions and work. Regarding the Salone del Mobile.Milano, companies put a great effort into preparing the final products, in creating beautiful stands that are able to express at its best the company’s philosophy and mood. The passion and effort that exhibitors put into their presence at the fair emphasize at the highest quality and innovation. Stands are the first business cards you give to your visitors, so that they are determinant in the communication campaign strategy of a company.
WW: This year, SaloneSatellite will focus on rising designers from Africa and Latin America. How did you arrive at that theme?
CL: The SaloneSatellite is curated directly by Marva Griffin, who founded it in 1998. For this edition, she has decided to dedicate the theme to Africa and Latin America because there is an incredible interest in design and culture from these two continents. The aim is also to showcase design of vernacular derivation and what is on offer today, or could be on offer, to deal with social and environmental emergencies and foster an informed way of life for the future.
WW: The 57th edition will also feature an engagement with the city—a “sensory path”— to show that Salone del Mobile has a purpose beyond business. Why was that important to the annual event?
CL: The event is important to underscore the fact that there is more to the fair than just business, and that creativity, beauty, and emotion are assets that design has a duty to safeguard, renew, and evoke. The Salone del Mobile will extend beyond the fairgrounds into the heart of Milan with a major project created in partnership with an international design and innovation studio, born of a desire to bring man closer to nature within the urban and domestic sphere and the need to reflect seriously on the issue of environmental sustainability.
WW: You’ve said that the key to success for Salone del Mobile is innovation. What are some advancements in design that you’re currently excited about?
CL: With today’s firm standpoint on ecology, the need to drive down environmental impact is paramount. “Ethics” and “responsibility” have become the bathroom’s new buzzwords. Water saving, energy efficiency, use of recyclable materials, and antibacterial finishes that cut down on the use of detergents are now possible, because the requisite technology is already in place. Sectoral manufacturers are thus looking to a better future and investing in innovation. EuroCucina and FTK (Technology For the Kitchen) will be as interesting as the International Bathroom Exhibition: You will discover self-connected, integrated, and increasingly intelligent built-in domestic appliances.