Coronavirus Emergency. New Salone del Mobile Date at Risk

Italian companies close their production plants until April 3

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24/03/2020 - Almost a month has passed since the official press release that informed about the postponement of the 2020 edition of the Milan Furniture Fair. As the overall situation has not improved substantially, many are wondering and asking whether the replacement date will have to be canceled as well. Indeed, while the coronavirus emergency seems to be coming a head, starting to seriously threaten other European countries and countries overseas, a new decree by the Italian government is obligating all Italian companies to close their production plants, with exceptions made only for those producing goods of basic necessities. Possible prolongations beyond April 3 cannot be ruled out entirely. Now, how likely is it that the most important appointment with international design will be confirmed for June 16 – 21? While the world of design seems divided into optimists and naysayers, everyone is eagerly waiting for the release of a new official statement that can wipe out their doubts.
In the meantime, some have even imagined a rather unlikely substitute, a 'virtual Milan' on the web, to be inaugurated in April and, thus, in keeping with the original time schedule for the Milan Design Week. This feeble and rather arbitrary initiative, has been thoroughly dismissed by many, not least by official promoters of the Milan Fuorisalone, an event that every year animates the entire city of Milan with numerous shows and appointments attracting visitors from all over the world. The originator of the initiative, after correcting himself almost immediately, apologized for his audacious sortie and the venturesome proposal to convert a complex experience like the Salone del Mobile, and the Fuorisalone, into a virtual tour for professionals, journalists and visitors.
In case the 2020 edition of the Salone del Mobile will have to be canceled definitely, we should ask ourselves: what possible alternatives are there for companies and designers? Rather than imagining a “virtual Milan”, maybe its more expedient to look for a solution that offers companies the opportunity to present the result of their hard work of the previous months. Otherwise, and at the moment such an outcome seems well in the cards, all preparations, sacrifices and investments might come to nothing. Could a virtual fair, although undoubtedly being a mere substitute for the real experience, help to keep the contact between brands and professionals? The answer to this question, however, can be given only by the Salone del Mobile, sole interlocutor of over a thousand companies that are still looking forward to what they consider to be the most important event of the year. Only the promoter can provide valid alternatives, not only to exhibitors, but also to the 350,000 visitors who every year travel to Milan from all over the world.
With no new official replacement date announced so far by the Salone del Mobile promoters, perhaps it’s wiser to reflect on how this historical moment might change our lives. Even after this emergency, will this experience have altered the way we talk about design? Will promoters and companies act differently? Will they have to reconsider digital solutions after all?

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