Salone Del Mobile Milano 2018 Highlights

Salone del Mobile: Milano 2018, the 57th edition of what is surely one of the biggest design events of the year, concluded over the weekend. And if one looks at the stats, it seemed to have been a great success.

434,509 attendees, in 6 days, from 188 different countries, made for a 17% increase compared to the 2016 edition, which last featured the biennial kitchen and bathroom exhibitions, and an increase of 26% compared with the 2017 edition. 1,841 exhibitors, 27% of them from 33 other countries (other than Italy that is), showcased their products at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the International Furnishing Accessories Exhibition, EuroCucina and the International Bathroom Exhibition, plus the 650 designers under 35 years of age featured at Salone Satellite – three of whom were presented with the Salone Satellite Award. So in all a very successful event, number-wise.

But what about the quality of the actual design?

Salone del mobile

Anyone looking for a clear and unequivocal answer to the question “what approach will design take in 2018?” within the context of the great Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano would have been surprised. There was no one single approach, but many different, if not radically different, design approaches. In fact, one could attempt a play on words, to the effect that the lack of a well-defined trend should be seen as the driving trend. Unless we missed a major part of the exhibition where trendsetters all work around the same theme (as what happened with height-adjustable desks at Orgatec a few years back), it is fair to say that this is an observation that has been made more and more over the last couple of years – despite numerous attempts to pin new “-ism” labels on things, this has simply not happened.

There have been many and varied style-approaches in 2018, from organicism to a return to the classic, a search for purity or fantasy and, within each different strand, there are designers from the most diverse cultural and geographical contexts. This sends a clear message that creatives all over the world are guided by their “reference tribes”, moving endlessly around a global market in which localisms appear, from a creative point of view at least, to be on the wane. The definitions that attempted to identify “national styles”, postulating Italian rather than Scandinavian or German design, now appear meaningless.

Despite this seemingly “directionlessness”, one has to admit that the possibilities that design free from a specific school of thought is something to look forward to.