The 61st edition of the Salone del Mobile.Milano!
The Salone returns home, in its favourite month: April, the month of Design.
The Milan Furniture Fair and the associated Design Week are significant appointments for the creative and design industry and could again take place in the usual month in the calendar from 18 to 21 April this year. In recent years, an increasing number of car manufacturers have also chosen this opportunity to present their brand identity and the latest developments in design.
Konzepthaus checked the programme and our CEO Martin Groschwald and Moritz Hausel as a member of the Consulting division visited this year's Milan Design Week and focused primarily on the presence of the car manufacturers in the context of the sphere of activity represented within this business segment. Generally, widely spread out, the brands position themselves away from the fairgrounds in the surroundings of the city center. Long distances and through research are necessary to find out where each manufacturer is presenting in which district.
Another aspect that was noticed is the diversity of concepts and installations of automobile manufacturers. While the focus can be recognized on the design factor, there is often a lack of connection with material innovations that should be the core element of the furniture fair. Instead, with some manufacturers, it seems to be more about just being present on-site, without offering any recognizable added value.
However, there were also manufacturers such as Citroen, BMW, and Lexus who managed to tell a story in their installations against the background of material innovations and sustainability. This topic is particularly important with regard to megatrends such as "sustainability" and "circularity" and should be more in focus for automobile manufacturers, which is more clearly highlighted and embodied by the other industries as participants, such as the fashion sector in the event.
"I really hoped that the automotive industry's presence in Milan would bring a greater concentration on the creative surrounding, with a focus on interiors and the associated core elements in the presentation of the theme of the Milan Furniture Fair in the form of many design-specific concerns. In my opinion, the installations have not taken this theme into account in their individual presentation. The spirit with which the city adorns itself with its framework programme should flow into the right channels, resulting in a high potential for innovative approaches in various cooperation models". Moritz explains his impressions of the onsite experience this way.
“Being held simultaneously with the Shanghai or Beijing Motor Show, the Milano Design Week has always been a side-event to the car design industry. For the CMF department, it is stable and should continue to be one – a fantastic display of materials which will sooner or later have an impact on the vehicles”, Martin shares. “It was however also a very interesting display of some of the struggles of the car design industry overall. A good example of this were Lancia and KIA. In both cases, there was a great direction without offering a conclusion that could have fully connected the visitor to the brand and products. Lancia’s display of the new concept car should have been a celebration of the rebirth of one of Italy’s iconic brands – it was presented in an unadorned environment without any story or explanation. KIA’s art installation was fantastic, but it didn’t manage to build a connection to the brand. In both cases, it felt, that it missed a certain pride in celebrating mobility and vehicles. Citroens display of the "Oli" [all-ë] might not have been as impressive as KIA, but it certainly celebrated the message and was therefore much more positive overall.” - Martin Groschwald
This year was also the first time that the Milan Design Week featured a Designers Night hosted by Car Design News and Maserati. A very welcomed event after a day of wondering and exploring the city to share a drink with the main Italian car design community.
Overall, this year's Milan Design Week was an impressive event that presented many innovative concepts and designs. However, it would be desirable if automobile manufacturers better align their presence with the context of the furniture fair and concentrate more on material innovations and sustainability. Only in this way, can they sustainably strengthen their brand profile in the design and creative industry of this context.