The union between business and culture is what makes Salone del Mobile (and Italy) amazing

The edition of Salone del Mobile that has just been completed was a great success. Over 262,000 visitors were registered at the fair, and Design Week attracted more than 400,000 people to Milan in one week.

It is true that we are not yet at the figures from the recent past (in 2019 there were 386,000 visitors to Salone and in 2018 as many as 434,000), but the result given the pandemic that is still going on and the ongoing war was much higher than expectations .. As stated by Claudio Feltrin, President of FederlegnoArredo, it was «an extraordinary show. Everyone is happy, especially the companies that have written several orders ».

However, the success and significance of the show went far beyond mere numerical data and financial consequences. The event triggered a true explosion of energy, which flooded the city with an unusual amount of events, initiatives and projects.

It was a beneficial storm of extremely diverse activities, which developed in a multiform and cross-cutting way. There is no doubt that the fashion companies in Fuori Salone took the brunt. Hermès, Versace, Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and others: Fashion has captured, reworked and relaunched the vital momentum that emerges from the Salon with extreme speed and imagination.

And this is easy to understand, as fashion is traditionally a fantastic laboratory for innovation, an industry characterized by a deeply special porosity, which is extraordinarily reactive in receiving the impulses that come from society. But the wave of creativity unleashed by Salone involved in an absolutely cross-cutting way companies from all sectors: from energy to finance, from construction to publishing.

For example, by selecting them on a random basis, let us take three very different initiatives that can be attributed to just as many Italian companies that are active in areas that could not be imagined more diverse.

Aspesi has turned its Milanese showroom into an original meditative space, curated by Gianluigi Ricuperati, set up with a selection of Post.it from the famous Hans Ulrich Obrist collection, with an extraordinary frame designed by Patricia Urquiola, adorned with original glass tables and cc – tapis rugs signed by the spanish designer.

Plenitude has in the Brera Botanical Garden, with the Carlo Ratti Associati studio, which has made use of the collaboration with Italo Rota, created the installation “Feeling the Energy”: a copper hose, long and shiny, which continuously produces energy, in the form of music, wind and water, perceived by visitors through the five senses.

On the occasion of the Salon, Banca Cesare Ponti has enhanced the “Numerism” exhibition by Adriano Attus, planned at its historic headquarters to celebrate the institute’s 150th anniversary, with an unpublished project curated by Rosa Cascone, in collaboration with the Association Cultural Anabasi , which emphasizes the relationship between the bank’s tradition and the artist’s language. And the examples could go on and on.

In short, there has been an authentic and multifaceted celebration of the meeting between business, culture, design and sustainability of deeply different companies. This makes us ask ourselves once again an old question, as fundamental as it is essentially unresolved: what is the essence of the extraordinary phenomenon we call “Made in Italy”?

As some people know, the question is answered with the formula “know-how”: the companies and workers in our country, in the different sectors of the company, would be bearers of a unique and original know-how, which guarantees our productions an irrevocable specificity.

This answer is, in the writer’s opinion, unsatisfactory: know-how is certainly a typical characteristic of Italian companies and workers; typical but not exclusive, as for every product sector, in some corner of the planet, there are equally extraordinary skills.

On the part of others, with different nuances, the question is answered by emphasizing the aspect of “quality”: the productions made on the peninsula would, for historical, climatic and geographical reasons, have unique qualities and properties that cannot be reached anywhere else.

Even this answer does not seem to us to hit the spot: it is obvious that our country holds – really as in a coffin – all the preciousness just mentioned, but in a globalized world there are no climatic peculiarities or organoleptic characteristics that can is taken into consideration. Italy’s exclusive prerogative.

The recent experience of Salone del Mobile, with the extraordinary spread of initiatives that came with it, makes us return to reflect on a particular vision of Made in Italy.

This is the vision on the basis of which Made in Italy derives all its extraordinary nature from the pollution between our company and the culture of the country, understood in its broadest sense, today in particular in the name of innovation and sustainability.

This is certainly not a new idea. Armando Massarenti, who talks about Made in Italy, wrote already ten years ago: “Why, after all, is our brand very strong? And what is this brand made of? It may seem strange to you, but the word that sums it up is only one: Culture. We are the land of culture. Everywhere in the world “(” On the manifesto of the component of culture. We, the illiterate sit on a treasure “, 2012).

That same year, we read in the Federculture Annual Report 2012 entitled “Culture and Development”: “Italy in the world is art and its cities. It is known for the Bernini Colonnade, the Sassi of Matera and the Cathedral of Milan. We have an extraordinary brand that still is strong in the international imagination and in the ability of commercial penetration. is not aware ».

The author of these lines wrote, much more modestly, in the essay Italian Soul: “It is our cultural heritage that still makes Italy a symbol of expertise in all corners of the world, giving our country the gradient of uniqueness and unavoidability. .to pour a drop of reputation and appeal on everything considered Italian “(2015).

The concept that the essence of Made in Italy lies in the peculiar encounter between the company and the culture of our country, therefore, certainly does not arise today. But today, also thanks to the extraordinary experience of the Salone del Mobile, it may take some definite proof, which it probably rarely had before.

Maria Porro, president of Salone del Mobile, has acutely defined the event as “a major process accelerator”. The hope, therefore, is that the energy released from the Salon is not lost, does not result in a fleeting glimpse into the pot, does not end in an exciting but instantaneous fireworks display.

Antonio Calabrò and Ferdinando Beccalli Falco wrote in unsuspecting times that “business and culture do not refer to two different universes, but are part of the same world […] It is necessary to move from the traditional vision of “business and culture” to a stronger vision full of values: “business is culture” »(Il redemption, 2012).

These are very timely words, at a time when companies are being called upon to make an effort of epoch-making significance, to redefine their mission in economics and their role in society according to the most advanced CSR paradigms.

The promotion that comes from the Salon must therefore lead to an effective and constructive effort, to work in a concrete way to facilitate the forms of interaction between business and culture in Italy, in the name of innovation and towards sustainability.

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