The Salone 2021 was indeed a Supersalone, despite some negative predictions. A panacea both for creatives, with immediate curative effects, and for companies, which will need some more time. When it’s all over, let’s not forget it.
Caleido was created as an editorial container to explore the creative world in which we live, through the voices of its protagonists. During this Milan Design Week, we have heard many voices, but above all we have been able to immerse ourselves in a universe of creative expressions whose absence was suffocating us. Creativity without the possibility of expression – and therefore of sharing, exchange and interaction – is agonising. And consequently, business, without creativity, dies. Even though I note a quantitative contraction of foreign visitors, and a post-pandemic “physical energy” that is not yet optimal, I believe that for at least 5 reasons this Supersalone can be defined a success. And, even when we return to a more traditional format, I hope we won’t throw away these strong improvements.
It’s true that by its nature, design is more inclusive than fashion. But lately the trend has been moving towards less accessibility (read here the Federica Sala’s thoughts on the subject). This exhibition format, on the other hand, has broken down the barriers of access to the stands, bringing people physically closer to the objects on display. Let us remember, also in the future, that design must be touched, it must be seen up close.
In the last few events (not only in Milan), the collections had become so extensive and varied that the identity DNA of the individual companies had all but vanished. Certainly, the stylistic helm of design brands is now entrusted to designers other than the founders, but I believe that being inspired by the heritage of unique and recognisable identity codes of the brand for which one designs is an absolute plus. At this Supersalone, the exhibition space was extremely limited, so the companies had to choose what to bring, forcing them to make a technical pit-stop to ask themselves which products were the most iconic and significant, which often coincide with the most identifiable.
With less product on offer to see, visitors were better able to focus on what was on display. Everything was more immediate, obvious, attractive, easy to understand and consequently the concentration of visitors was greater. This Supersalone was conceived as a sort of Super Showcase, with the best of each brand. After all, in the digital world in which we live, all you need to do is visit the brand’s website or Instagram account with one click, even live, to find out more and discover the entire catalogue offer. Perhaps this ‘stand window’ concept should also be explored for the future.
Digital is real (read here our thoughts on this), even for the design world. For the first time I have widely experienced an integrated experience between physical and digital (outside of fashion): many brands have decided to extend the limited physical space with a digital narrative of themselves or their special projects, taking people outside the walls of the fair. Digital also creates a strong bond between brands and customers, which starts in a physical context (acquaintance, at the fair) but then consolidates through digital platforms (consideration, through social, newsletters, website, follow-up by email, etc.). Discover here the importance of creative digital direction for a brand)
In their storytelling, the most avant-garde brands have focused on their substantial value, shifting the focus from purely aesthetic issues to more qualitative ones. By creating physical and digital installations, or by finding new ways of presenting themselves, to tell the story of their production quality, sustainable activities, recyclable materials, innovative techniques, research and development. This is the real difference between qualitative design and copy-of-the-copy.