Supersalone 2021, the special edition of the Salone del Mobile, is being held this week in Milan. There was a test to enter Italy, a test to leave, temperature checks, masks, and constant vaccine card checks, but all things considered, the SuperSalone 2021 occurred with very little problems. From my perspective it was a success. I talked to polled 30 exhibitors and showroom managers and 26 were pleased. Everyone knew what to expect and for the most part the show exceeded expectations. I do not know if the show was a financially profitable.
Salone is normally held every year, with Euroluce, the lighting portion, added in odd years. Normally Euroluce would have their own building, but with fewer exhibitors this year, show management created a new format mixing lighting with furniture and kitchen companies. In the US, we have always talked about talking to people other than ourselves. Euroluce did it. Lighting exhibits mixed with furniture displays seemed to work well as beautiful high-end luminaires were exposed to all who attended the show.
The sustainability of the fair was very refreshing. No carpet, which usually ends up in a landfill after one week’s usage. The stands were wooden, and no paint or glue was allowed, only screws. After the show, the wood will either be reused or recycled. Even the QR codes were made of wood.
The show welcomed attendees from over 120 countries, but I was unable to get the number of attendees from show management. The event was not packed, but it never felt empty either. There was always a good flow of attendees.
Artemide made a big splash at the show as they featured their INTEGRALIS® product which is a transparent edge lit fixture that can be switched between UV cleaning, using visible light (405nm) in occupied spaces to UV-C cleaning (274nm) in unoccupied spaces. It is the most elegantly designed UV fixture that I have seen.
I spoke with Gabriele Perrini, the iGuzzini Regional Director Northern, Southern, Eastern Europe and South America. We discussed iGuzzini’s completion of the Sistemalux acquisition and he assured me that the Sistemalux brand was strong and well respected and would not disappear (as brands tend to disappear in the US).
In talking with other people at their showroom, I learned during COVID iGuzzini laid off about 20% of their workforce to meet market conditions, but their sales are rebounding quite well now. iGuzzini is not experiencing many supply chain issues as they pulled in components in February and March to meet demand for the entire year. About 85% of their manufacturing is still in Italy. iGuzzini has the contract for Lamborghini showrooms and they featured a desk lamp inspired by the Lamborghini logo.
Barovier & Taso is one of the oldest companies in the world and is still a privately held family business. Originally their chandeliers were designed for candles, and when electricity arrived the bulbs fit quite well in their design. Today’s bulky and ugly LED bulbs are forcing them to change their look. Instead of the bulbs being prominently displayed, the fixtures have to be restyled to hide the unsightly LED bulbs.
Barovier & Taso build some of the most beautiful chandeliers in the world and they have the richest history of any lighting company as they were founded in 1295. In those early centuries, their glass was so valuable, Barovier foremen were not allowed to travel for fear of losing their glass-blowing secrets. The company moved manufacturing to the island of Murano in an effort to help keep their technology secret, and as a result, Murano became the first industrial district in the world. This story is fascinating, and we are considering a deep dive into their history for designing lighting (dl). Barovier & Taso are working hard to grow North America sales and their products are sold in the US by JB Lighting Collection.
Ambientec featured several decorative fixtures and one caught my eye, bottled! A soft light glows inside a tinted glass shade shaped like a bottle. The table lamp is cordless and would be prefect for outdoor restaurant tables. The bottle was designed by Ryuichi Kozeki.
The Flos/louis poulsen showroom was about 9 kilometers from the fair and it was packed during both of my visits.
What is somewhat puzzling to me is the success of the showrooms as they are 5 to 10 km from the fair and scattered in different districts in Milan—and the showrooms are quite successful. It would be like traveling from Javits to Midtown, down to Wall Street and to the Upper East End. Much of my time was spent in transportation.
This is another reason that I am such a fan of LightFair and LEDucation. One stop does it all.