At the helm of Fiera Milano since April 2015, he already has a clear view of the challenges and priorities: Corrado Peraboni, CEO of one of the most important international trade fair facilities, talks about the future of Homi, the lifestyle fair, held at Fiera Milano from 29 January to 1 February 2016.

What is the DNA of a successful trade fair, in your view? Should it be a laboratory of ideas, a place of encounters, a stage for trends, a business facilitator?

All that and more, though I would like to concentrate on two aspects. First, the level of internationalism, an indispensable characteristic to be competitive: in the booths of the fair visitors have to meet companies that they would otherwise not have a chance to know about. Second, the ability to exhibit everything that is about to happen.

But how can you see into the future?

By searching for Italian creativity, to reveal the ‘mines’ of ideas that Italy has in abundance. There lies the future. It is not possible to compete with the big international companies in the home and decor sector without offering exhibitors and visitors a distinctive character of excellence, different from all the others, because it is strong and clearly visible. And we can do just that, as the past has proven…

Which past do you have in mind?

The history and particular personality of a fair that has helped many companies to grow. Just consider the fact that many important international brands began their path of success precisely thanks to Macef: today, our aim is to make the ‘new champions’ of Made in Italy grow, giving them a chance to find the right situation in which to meet international producers and buyers.

So the idea is to bring Homi new ideas, and to make them grow…

Exactly. In a new way, of course, with respect to the past, and with technologically advanced tools. We have to become a hotbed of talents in the design sector and enter the ‘garages’ of Italian creativity. Because our crafts workshops, our start-ups and our schools can become places of innovation, just like the ‘garages’ of Silicon Valley in California, where the high-tech industry of the future was born. But there is a difference: our ‘garages’ are very numerous, so the potential is even bigger.

But how do you find them in the territory?

This brings us to another new development for Homi: the partnership with public and private players to discover entrepreneurial realities of value and quality. I’d start with the important collaborations and synergies activated with CNA, the National Confederation of Crafts and Small-Medium Businesses, with ARTEX, the Center for Artistic and Traditional Crafts of Tuscany, and also with the sector associations Art, Anima and SMI. In the edition at the end of January 2016, Homi also ‘bonds’ with ADI and Unioncamere Lombardia, to make room for young creative talents from Lombardy, supporting the Design Competition organized by the Lombardy Region, which will continue at future editions of the fair.

So much for scouting on a national level. On an international scale, what are the winning moves for Homi?

Today the buzzword is re-emerging markets, meaning traditional markets that have resumed growth after the crisis, like the United States, Canada and Japan, though without overlooking new and dynamic international players like Iran and Colombia. Once again, an important partnership, with ICE, the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade, is helping us to meet this new challenge.

Future goals?

To bring Homi to very high standards of excellence, also regarding the offering of services. I like to say we should become a like a ‘TripAdvisor champion,’ namely having excellent reviews as a fair, like a 5-star hotel. For example, we are thinking about agreements with airports to offer our visitors fast-track services; soon we will have a Buyers Lounge here in the Fair, and ‘stations’ scattered amidst the booths to offer exhibitors online services. In short, the idea is to make the fair ‘attractive and easy.’

It is already attractive: the ‘container’ is a work of architecture of great value (by Massimiliano e Doriana Fuksas, ed.) and we’re achieving great ‘content’ results in terms of quality and innovation. Accessibility has also been boosted, thanks to Expo, which has brought a very important injection of credibility.

On the gallery, images of the fall 2015 edition of Homi, with the various theme sections.

Text by Laura Ragazzola