Monocolumn: The Salone Series: Back To Business At The Fiera

For all the fun of the galleries, warehouse exhibitions and street parties elsewhere in Milan, the vast Rho fairground on the city’s outskirts is where the real business of Salone takes place.

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

For all the fun of the galleries, warehouse exhibitions and street parties elsewhere in Milan, the vast Rho fairground on the city’s outskirts is where the real business of Salone takes place. Across 24 halls, each one the size of a couple of aircraft hangars, the world’s leading furniture companies show their new collections to buyers and press, to architects, and to each other. It’s an unrivalled spectacle – a lot of pleasure and, after a few hours, a fair bit of pain too.

In the last couple of years the big brands have played it safe, promoting archive products with a proven track record of success while launching a few interesting new products to keep the media happy.

This year it’s a different story and there are two noticeable sectors on the rise: outdoor and contract.

As European manufacturers are taking advantage of hungry Middle Eastern and Asian markets blessed with better weather and a healthier outdoor culture, the outdoor furniture sector is booming. For contract design the gap in the market to furnish hotels, restaurants, offices and airports with well-designed, high-quality furniture is one many manufacturers are seeking to fill.

Brands exploring furniture that can be both indoor and outdoor included Roda, Zanotta, Magis and Vitra. The latter is for the first time venturing into outdoor furniture with Konstantin Grcic’s Waver chair, which has been three years in the making. “It’s a new direction and a fresh way of looking at the crossover between indoor and outdoor furniture and what it might be for a new market,” Grcic said of his design.

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