27/03/2020 - It’s official: Salone del Mobile 2020 is cancelled. By reason of the coronavirus emergency initially postponed to June, event cancellation has now been confirmed. The official press release, published this afternoon, had been already anticipated in an article published yesterday evening by the Milano Finanze. Here an excerpt from the press release issued by the Salone del Mobile communication office:
The 2020 edition of the Salone del Mobile.Milano has been suspended. The event will now take place from 13th to 18th April 2021. The decision to postpone was made by the Board of the Salone del Mobile.Milano in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that is spreading to almost every country in the world. The situation that led to the original change of date from April to June, announced on 25th February, has fundamentally changed. Although we were determined to keep to the June date, to allow the annual event to take place as planned, the present, unprecedented circumstances and medium-term uncertainties now mean that this year’s Salone can no longer go ahead.
The 2021 edition, which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Salone, will be a special event for the entire sector. For the first time ever, all the biennial exhibitions will be held in conjunction with the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the International Furnishing Accessories Exhibition, Workplace3.0, S.Project and SaloneSatellite. This means that EuroCucina, FTK – Technology For the Kitchen and the International Bathroom Exhibition will also take place next year, along with Euroluce, which was already scheduled for 2021.
This single, great sector-wide trade fair will represent a fresh opportunity to pull together to revitalise our businesses, the entire supply chain that works in synergy with the Salone, and Milan.
A month ago, hopes were still high that a replacement date, announced for June 16-21, could be a feasible solution. The last two weeks, however, have seen the situation worsening, also on a global scale, leaving no room for further speculation: any replacement date is inconceivable. Official confirmation is likely to follow this afternoon. Official confirmation received today.
In other words, the 58th edition of the Milan Design Week is off. What are the consequences? And how will companies present their products?
In the current situation, a digital alternative might be reconsidered, especially as for many of us smart working, e-commerce and remote communication (conference calls, shared drives, online work groups) is increasingly becoming daily routine.
An increase in digital projects is rather likely. Many companies had been imagining and preparing ways to present and promote their products digitally, even before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.
Hence, the question is: is a digital version of the Salone del Mobile 2020 possible?
Unlikely the scenario of an event like a “virtual Milan”, as someone had already ventured to propose only days ago. The originator of this idea, after correcting himself almost immediately, has already apologized for his audacious idea of convert a complex experience like the Salone del Mobile, and the Fuorisalone, into a virtual tour for professionals, journalists and visitors.
On the other hand, a substitute like a virtual “fair” could certainly help brands, professionals and retailers to keep in contact with each other. Perhaps concentrating on the potentials of a digital showcase can serve as a lifeline.
Rather than skipping the event altogether, and in order to relaunch and respond to the needs of companies that worked hard on their products and are now looking for a way to present them to their international stakeholders, a new digital platform could be created. The aim would be to combine the capability of the Salone del Mobile to attract interest and visitors from all over the world with the full potential of digital product presentation technologies.
What can a “virtual fair” achieve?
It will have to present the best products, and it will have to do this digitally. The Salone del Mobile, however, is internationally known for taking product presentation to the highest level, and this not least through of the tremendous amount of work put into the preparation of the individual stands.
Augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D configurators could play a key role in successfully translating such a complex experience. Digital technology may allow a representation of the product, with all its colors, shapes and textures, in a real environment and help to contextualize it directly in current projects.
What’s of equal importance: a (digital) fair must also facilitate business matching, the fine-tuning of supply and demand. How can this be done? Through all available digital communication channels: chat, video-conferences, web meetings, webinar, with real-time chat assistance instead of contact forms. Just like at the fair, it should enable us to speak directly to a technician or a sales representative.
All this requires us to reflect on how this historical moment might change our lives. In a word where our participation in a fair, or going to a showroom, can no longer be taken for granted, how will it be possible for manufacturers to present their products? How can buyers get the information they are asking for? How will supply and demand continue to meet?
This might be an emergency. But it’s also an experience that certainly will change the way we think about design. Must fairs and companies adapt? Are they already reconsidering digital solutions?