Major Brands Opt Out of Salone del Mobile.Milano

MILAN — With Italy’s furniture industry facing a year of expansion and an improved outlook overall, Salone del Mobile.Milano has lost some old friends. Its 62nd edition will take place April 16 to 21 and expects to welcome 1,900 exhibitors, down from about 2,000 the year before, with some major players having pulled out.

Design Holding’s Maxalto, French luxury player Roche Bobois and Luxury Living brands Luxence and Versace Home are among the firms that have opted to turn the focus to their Milan showrooms and flagship stores and other central venues rather than the fairgrounds.

More from WWD

“For the past 10 years, the fair has been a great reference but there are great flagships in the city center and we found we are equally strong outside the site. You can’t invest properly if you aren’t making a choice. We have better representation in town,” contended Martin Gleize, international director of Roche Bobois in an interview with WWD. Roche Bobois opened its flagship in Milan in 2022 in the heart of the design district on Via Felice Cavallotti.

A spokesperson for Design Holding said none of its brands will be at the Salone Rho Fair and all of its brands that have a store in Milan will be presenting in their retail spaces. In addition to heritage brands B&B Italia and Maxalto, Design Holding also owns luxury names like Azucena; lighting brands Flos and Louis Poulsen, and kitchen-maker Arclinea. In 2021, the Italian conglomerate inked a joint venture with Fendi to form Fashion Furniture Design, or FF Design, to develop the Fendi Casa business.

The trend is similar to what is happening with other trade shows, from eyewear to footwear, with brands opting to unveil their new collections in their own headquarters or chosen venues.

Luxury Italian furniture-maker Maxalto’s showroom and flagship is located on Via Durini with fellow upscale brand B&B Italia. Versace Home has a home on the same central street, but will show its latest at the historic Versace headquarters in Milan’s Via Gesù. Luxence’s will show in a new showroom on Via della Passione 8, which is also within walking distance of the Durini pulse.

Salone del Mobile.Milano spokespeople could not be reached when contacted by WWD, but its president Maria Porro gave an interview in Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica Wednesday stating the lower numbers were also due to the necessity to filter participants to accommodate a more curated space. “We worked on being selective to maintain the quality of the exhibitors,” she said, insisting the fair still is not suffering from lack of interest.

Last year, Salone del Mobile.Milano organizers said there was a 15 percent year-on-year rise in visitors to 307,418. At the time, organizers said in a statement that 65 percent of the buyers and industry professionals were international with Chinese visitors at the top of the list, followed by Italy, Germany, France, the U.S., Spain and Brazil.

This year, Salone del Mobile.Milano expects to welcome more than 300,000 visitors from key markets Europe, the U.S., China, as well as Saudi Arabia, India and the Far East.

Versace Home
The Versace Home store and showroom on Via Durini in Milan.

This year, organizers will unveil a fresh layout designed with Lombardini22, a Milan-based studio, which has worked on various green projects, as well as hospitality endeavors, such as the W hotel in Rome and the Mandarin Oriental on Lake Como. Instead of a perfect grid scenario, pavilions will host brands in front-facing format in a more open form in order to improve visibility for visitors.

While the Biennale of Light took center stage last year, this year the spotlight will turn to kitchens and bathrooms, highlighted by two major instillations. Within the EuroCucina (kitchen) section, a food design installation will be the focus, with daily live food deign demonstrations. Within the bathroom or International Bathroom Exhibition section, two installations will be constructed — one dedicated to promoting water saving, and the other to product design.

Among the main highlights, film director David Lynch is expected to provide a narration and reflection on the production of interiors. “Interiors by David Lynch. A Thinking Room” was designed by Lynch and his team and will be set in central pavilions five and seven of the set at the Rho Fiera trade grounds.

The curator of the project is Antonio Monda, a friend of the filmmaker, as well as a writer, professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and former artistic director of the Rome Film Festival. At a press conference in Milan on Tuesday, Monda highlighted that Lynch has been designing furniture for more than 20 years.

The Maxalto store and showroom in Via Durini.