From a “salone-light” to “supersalone”. Here is what we will see in Rho from 5 to 10 September and why it is worth pursuing

What will the September show be like?

It is finally possible to give concrete answers to this question, which has been on everyone's lips for months.

It will be, as we know, curated by Stefano Boeri and open to the public as well as to professionals. And it will be, as we never knew until today, a team effort: alongside him, in fact, Boeri wanted Andrea Caputo, Maria Cristina Didero, Anniina Koivu, Lukas Wegwerth, Marco Ferrari and Elisa Pasqual (Studio Folder).

It will be called “supersalone”: a slightly cartoonish name but perfect to distance the event from the unfortunate “salone light” (which months ago had scared everyone a bit), and ideally project it alongside revolutionary experiments that all design enthusiasts they know (think Superleggera, Superstudio, Superdesign…).

“Supersalone” is therefore a name that may sound a little presumptuous. But it fits. Because, net of the difficulties and the unknowns, what the Feltrin-led show is putting on track with Boeri and the team is undoubtedly a revolutionary concept. A finally intelligent and decidedly design response to a situation that has changed everything and everyone very profoundly. Because the “supersalone” is not another show but a questioning of the concept of the fair, a radical approach to project communication and its marketing.

It is right that the Salone del Mobile.Milano finally makes this speech and it is right that it does so now. To arrive at the April Salone, at the 60th edition, enriched with new thoughts and ideas. Because surely the transformation that we will see in September and which, without the pandemic, would never have happened, will influence the return to normalcy, regardless of its success or not.

What will this “supersalone” be like then?

First of all, there will be no stands, but what the designer Andrea Caputo calls a basic infrastructure that changes the rules of the game. It is a customizable, flexible and reusable display system (the reusability element was conceived together with Lukas Wegwerth, an expert on issues related to circularity) that will be created by the Show and on which each company will be able to exhibit its products.

The best word to describe this system is “wall” because it is an element that develops in length and height, qualified in linear and non-square meters. Positioned in any direction, sequence and size within the pavilions, it can create, according to Caputo, always different paths and atmospheres. And, in the connection points, to real areas of meeting, conversation and exchange.

A digital platform has been created to support the exhibition (which will be presented on 30 June): it will be an online catalog of the event, on which the event will also be told in streaming for the public who will not be able to physically participate. And thanks to it you can, by framing the QR code of each product, buy it directly from a retailer.

As a corollary to the exhibition there will be areas for relaxation, areas dedicated to the history of design (in collaboration with the newborn ADI Design Museum) to students (curated by Anniina Koivu) and to dialogue (with the Lectio, Talk and Conversazioni edited by Maria Cristina Didero).

The challenges that a project of this kind presents, where the objects must be positioned vertically (as in a sequence of Instagram posts in 3D) are obviously many: from the display methods to those of the communication of brand identities, from the possibility of animating the space. with people and materials to receive dealers or customers in a necessarily reduced space compared to those which companies are used to. To discuss these details and show the flexibility of the concept and its adaptability to the different desires of exhibitors, the show is planning a meeting specially designed for businesses on 3 June.

Who needs such a show?

Where it is not known how many visitors will come, where there will probably be more general public than insiders, where it is not yet clear what the costs will be?

Questions flocked to the comments section on Facebook during the live stream and they were all legitimate. But Boeri somehow gave the general answer at the beginning of the press conference: more than to individual companies, all this serves the Italian design system. The attraction of the “supersalone” is the opportunity to tell about oneself directly to the public and to participate in a project that lives partly in the real world and partly online: a Phygital project, straddling the exhibition-market and cultural happening. It is an investment to show that, faced with the supreme challenge that was (was) Covid, the world of Italian design knows how to respond by changing the cards and doing it all together, taking risks, questioning formats to create others and continue to maintain a unique leadership.

Is it worth it?

Definitely yes, if you believe in the value of doing things together. Provided that the bill to be paid, in the end, does not remain on the table of the companies or small and large realities of the FuoriSalone. Those that, last September and April, tirelessly held up the spirit of the design week even when the Salone was noticeable only for its deafening silence.