Salone Bench, ode to a silent servant of the Salone del Mobile

salone bench, glasner, salone milano

Photo courtesy Jakob Glasner

A reflection on the fair founded in 1961 starting from Jakob Glasner's product, Salone Bench, inspired by the crash-proof barriers inside the pavilions in Rho

At the Vienna Design Week, a simple item reminded me of something that has saved me many times during my long research expeditions at the Salone del Mobile, at the fairgrounds in Rho. Curious about the story behind it, I inquired and found out that the young Austrian designer Jakob Glasner had been entrusted with creating the anti-crash barriers for the setup, when trucks enter the halls to deliver all the necessary materials for the stands. He designed them so they could turn into benches during the show, creating an island of rest in the busy days spent hunting for novelties. Are there strong emotions behind the creation of poetry out of a necessary object, offering an opportunity for relaxation?

bench, salone milano

Photo courtesy Jakob Glasner

Ode to a silent servant of the Salone del Mobile: “For decades, the Milan design fair has been a central hub for the furniture industry,” says Glasner, who considers this project a chance to gather his thoughts. “But, amidst all the well-designed pieces in fancy booths, I realized visitors usually could rest only on the unadorned metal beams at the sides of the halls. So I thought about stuffing the packaging materials leftover after the setup into a reproduction of those beams, made out of wire mesh.”

I am very thankful to Jakob for giving me the opportunity to reflect on how the fair has grown: it started in 1961 to boost Brianza’s furniture industry, but in fact developed into the most astonishing worldwide event. The Salone del Mobile in Milan now has an unparalleled global impact, and has become very important also for the city itself. From the concept of “better living” it has evolved into a whole machine capable of attracting also related industries such as fashion.

bench, jakob glasner, salone milano

Photo courtesy Jakob Glasner

For the last two millennia, Italy has led the way in many fields and history teaches us the contorted ways that made the country a forerunner for many trends on all levels. With its geography, its beauty and its entrepreneurial skills, it has always been a home to excellence – attracting customers and convincing them to choose high quality, good taste and the best materials. The Salone Bench is, in a precise way, a critique to a system that, de facto, developed in a natural way from craftsmanship to industry with design orchestrating the balance of this whole process. Since the beginning of this fair, also thanks to the Salone Satellite, the Italian furniture industry has played a crucial role in exploring a series of aspects: how young designers start to confront themselves with production, the ways companies work. From ideas to products to communication, a machine worthy of the most refined strategist has developed.

This souvenir of the fairgrounds shows how important it is to go into the details and celebrate even the most unexpected elements, as a symbol of a very complex system.

salone bench, jakob glasner, salone milano

Photo courtesy Jakob Glasner

salone bench, jakob glasner, vienna, salone milano

Photo courtesy Jakob Glasner

salone bench, jakob glasner, vienna design week, salone milano

Photo courtesy Jakob Glasner

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