After the success of the 2023 edition, the collaboration between the Salone del Mobile.Milano and Lombardini22 continues for the redesign of the pavilions dedicated to the biennial exhibitions which this year are: EuroCucina, FTK – Technology For the Kitchen and Salone Internazionale del Bagno

The happy meeting between the holistic approach to the project of Lombardini22 and the inclusive desire of the Salone is is translated, also for the 62nd edition, into another fundamental stage in the development and evolution of the format and experience of visiting the fairs.

The exhibition layouts of the EuroCucina and International Bathroom Exhibition were redesigned by Lombardini22 thanks to listening - to the needs of the main stakeholders and past visit experiences - and to the introduction of experiments based on neuroscience< /strong>, important news for 2024.

We asked two of the protagonists of the Lombardini22 project, Cristian Catania, Reinventing Fair project director and Federica Sanchez, architect and neuroscience researcher, to explain to us how neuroscience can improve the experience of visiting fairs and how much the experiments carried out influenced the final project.

The layouts designed by you for Euroluce have had a positive response (the Salone del Mobile has organized 1200 interviews with stakeholders after the event for two years already), what have you kept and what have you renewed this year?

Cristian Catania: “Last year we built a methodology not an applied formula which, for the 2024 edition, we also developed based on decidedly different exhibition needs. First of all, the nature of the products on display has changed, this year we move from the ethereal nature of light to furniture with large volumes such as kitchens.

However, we have kept listening to the needs of the main stakeholders as the starting point of the design brief, thanks to the consultation tables organized by the Show.

So we added to our vision, which we can define as 'urban', of the spaces and paths inside the pavilions, the results of an experimentation based on neuroscience.

Thanks to the analysis of the spaces through digital tools such as Space Sintax we were able to understand how people move between the stands and to understand whether the proposed geometries facilitate their paths or not. The data collected then gave us the opportunity to create a brief based not only on observation from above, but on the unconscious needs of visitors."

Is the use of neuroscience a new methodology in the exhibition sector?

Federica Sanchez: "There are some research projects on the experience of museum exhibitions analyzed from a psychological and neuroscientific point of view, but our research does not reveal any completed projects."

In practice, what was the design process and how did it include neuroscience in its development?

Federica Sanchez: “First of all I want to underline that we did not move only with our internal skills but we developed the neuroscientific experimentation activity in collaboration with the MySpace Lab research center of the Clinical Neuroscience department of the University of Lausanne.

The experimentation consists of two phases: the first was activated during the planning and the second will be contemporary with the days of the event.

During the first phase, thanks to Tuned, the section of Lombardini22 specialized in the application of neuroscience to architectural design, we involved a group of people who, using VR viewers, walked through the EuroCucina pavilions both in the traditional version, that of 2022, and in the one designed by us for this year's edition.

During their experiences, electrophysiological and psychophysiological measurements were carried out through EEG, ECG and cognitive tests and the data collected was analyzed by neuroscientists from Lausanne.

The result was definitely in favor of the new project, we therefore obtained scientific validation of the initial brief.”

Could the design method integrated with virtual reality and neuroscience be a preview of what the future of trade fairs will be, a highly debated topic for some years?

Cristian Catania: “We believe that the Salone del Mobile has truly put itself at stake with a view to change and is experimenting with important developments aimed at improving the visitor experience.

Our part is precisely to support him in changing the paradigm: from exposure to experience.

By combining our skills we have built an integrated and overall process of gradual evolution. It all starts from the general layout and the awareness of the importance of space as an enabling and attractive factor. Thanks to the masterplan, the values of recognisability, comfort, involvement and time were implemented.

Our project intends to best express that complexity and that stratification which in this, as in fairs in general, no longer coincide with the product alone or with the pure commercial dimension, but also and above all with the quality of the experience offered to visitors and with the guarantee of visibility for exhibitors. The spaces work to make the event work."

Is this type of data collection connected in some way with AI design?

Federica Sanchez: "I believe that the two approaches are connected but belong to different phases of the design. The data collection that we carried out with the neuroscientific experiments allowed us to objectively and extensively measure the effects of the space on the quality of the experience.

AI was a means that helped us process large quantities of data and isolate the indices that most statistically had effects on subjective experiences."

What transformations will we find, physically, in the pavilions of EuroCucina 2024?

Cristian Catania: “The final project was born, therefore, from the overlap of the responses to the consultations with the conscious and unconscious experiences lived during the experimental phase. The stakeholders' requests concerned: better visibility of the exhibition spaces, wider and more intuitive routes, rest areas and services, a greater cultural offering .

The result, in short, sees the renunciation of the classic cardo and decumanus layout and re-imagines the layout in a more urban ring form.

The stands usually arranged along the external paths were placed against the walls in favor of wider lanes/boulevards in the central area, where cultural installations and quiet areas were inserted.

Finally, we dealt with two other innovations for EuroCucina 2024: the central space dedicated to food design, made up of two adjacent and permeable areas between them; the positioning master plan and the architectural layout of the curvilinear perimeter leading to David Lynch's work, a project conducted in collaboration with the set designers of the Piccolo Teatro in Milan.”