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Milan–Shanghai: how will the Salone del Mobile in China be?
Interview with Claudio Luti, the new president of Salone del Mobile.Milano
The Salone del Mobile.Milano Shanghai just started. From today through the 25th of November, an intense and surprising three-day event dedicated to design will liven up the Chinese city from the spaces of the Exhibition Center. For the ‘made-in-Italy’ brand, this is a key opportunity, which, on the occasion of the fair’s second edition, is bolstered by a doubling of both the number of participant companies and of the square metres occupied by the exhibition. Given last year’s good results, it was to be expected. Besides, all data confirm how the Chinese market represents an unmissable chance for Italian firms operating in the furniture business. To be convinced, one only needs to analyse the exponential growth of the urban population and the increase in the retail furniture sales — a direct consequence of the expansion of Chinese cities — which is spreading also to medium-sized towns. So, being present in China is fundamental. And the figures of the Salone del Mobile.Milano Shanghai are there to prove it: 109 Italian top brands in the Classic, Design, and xLux areas, 20.000 expected visitors, fifty under 35 Chinese designers launched at SaloneSatellite, 3 master classes held by Mario Bellini, Piero Lissoni, and Giancarlo Tintori in a dialogue with Chinese designers Di Zhang, Kuang Ming (Ray) Chou, and Jamy Yang, as well as a series of side events, including the photo exhibition "Italian Interiors from 1925 to the Present Day". To learn more and to discover the point of view of an insider, we’ve interviewed Claudio Luti, the new President of the Salone del Mobile.Milano.
Claudio Luti, President of the Salone del Mobile.Milano. Photo: Francesco Brigida
The second edition of the Salone del Mobile Milano Shanghai is underway. How did last year’s go and what are your expectations for the now imminent next happening?
The Salone del Mobile.Milano Shanghai is a strategic event in the international design landscape, which enhances the brand of our exhibition. After our debut in 2016, the second edition of Salone del Mobile.Milano Shanghai confirms its role as the Chinese point of reference for Italian firms active in the furniture design business, also thanks to our collaborations with several partners. We intend to strengthen the role of this event as a strategically important international showcase of products meant for a remote audience that is not always able to attend the Salone del Mobile in Milan. We aim to act as a commercial and cultural bridge between our countries, Italy and China, creating a beneficial dialogue on the issue of the uniqueness and quality of made-in-Italy creations.
Particularly in recent years, many Chinese visitors have been attending Milan’s Salone del Mobile. What additional opportunities could be created by being physically present in Shanghai?
Milan’s Salone is the best and most important design event in the world. In April, Milan becomes a hub not just for architects, designers, and businesspeople, but also for opinion leaders, collectors, and researchers. And that is because only the Salone del Mobile can guarantee a combination of innovation, creativity, industrial solidity, and quality. Behind every product is the passion of those who designed and realised it, and there’s the work of many individuals, each contributing to making a wooden, plastic, or fabric object — be it a table, a chair, or a vase — always into something special and original. A piece conceived by creative minds from around the world and brought to Milan, Italy, for its launch. We are therefore proud to export here a small part of what we have been able to create. This way, we give Chinese operators the chance to appreciate our products and Italian firms the means to approach new potential customers. As to us, the organisers of the fair, with the foreign venues of Shanghai and Moscow, we consolidate our leadership.
How many Italian firms have joined this initiative? Has their number increased from the last edition?
The event is growing, and, already in this second year, it includes many of the most important names among the manufacturers of high-end furniture. We believe we can grow even further, while always keeping a balance in terms of the quality of the offer.
Talking about Chinese–Italian relationships in the furniture and design sectors, what scenario do you anticipate for the near future?
China is going through a tumultuous evolution; it is certainly a country with which to seek a dialogue. I see huge business potential, although opportunities will not be easy to seize. I do believe that our firms, however, each with its own strategy for international expansion, will be able to find the right route to capitalise on the relationships built in this market. The Chinese love Italy and the way Italians are able to work, but we must find a way to export the emotions at the heart of our products, as well as our culture and experiences.
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