“supersalone”: first impressions. A double interview with Maria Porro and Beppe Sala

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The most exhausting, the most demanding, without doubt the most wonderful -in the closing stages of the week dedicated to design, an interview with the Mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, and the President of the Salone del Mobile.Milano, Maria Porro.

We can imagine and we’ve seen just how good “supersalone” is for Milan, but how good can it be for Italy, after a period that has brought out the weaknesses and the humanity of the city?

Beppe Sala: If Milan restarts, Italy restarts too. I said it at the opening, thanking the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, for coming and for his support. Our city has always been the driver of this country and it still is. We really wanted to hold the Salone del Mobile.Milano, which we had to suspend for two editions because of the pandemic, to show a strong signal: we’re here, Italy’s here and we want to get going again. It won’t be the same as it was, nor will we be starting again from scratch. While it’s true that the pandemic has evidenced our vulnerability and left so much grief in its wake, it has also kickstarted the huge heart of this city, its amazing solidarity and desire to get through it all together.

Maria Porro: This event has triggered a powerful chain reaction - its value goes way beyond merely that of a trade fair. The fact that the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, commented on “supersalone,” breaking with ceremonial when he wasn’t even scheduled to speak, underscores the extent to which this event, this creative and productive sector, is representative of a country that boasts incredible strong points. The fact that it was us who took this step at international level is truly important. Have we actually taken on board the fact that we’ve had visitors from 120 other countries?

The event is an invitation to citizens, not just the Milanese, to take back the entire city. Five things that have made “supersalone” unforgettable?

BS: “supersalone” has wreathed the city in shapes and colours, brilliance and lightness, vitality and happy frenzy, bringing it back into the global spotlight. Milan is creativity, hard work and cutting edge, it’s that little bit extra that makes it unique. We’re witnessing a time of renaissance that has in itself five fundamental aspects: work, concreteness, energy, enthusiasm and beauty.

MP: Undoubtedly witnessing an unprecedented event, a sustainable and circular fair that took off here and offered a preview of what the leading design and furnishing brands have to offer. Finding out more about the history of design and the cultural content. Being able to meet each other again and seeing the international design community made up of businessmen and women, designers, the press. Also getting a glimpse of the future through the projects by students from the top schools all over the world. Lastly, rediscovering the value of memory with the Compasso d’Oro pieces, simple objects that make up Italy’s cultural heritage.

Inclusive, creative, sustainable. In what way does the political angle of this Salone reflect the city of Milan?

BS: Milan is the Salone and the Salone is Milan. The city’s going through a huge phase of transformation, urban regeneration inspired by the principles of environmental sustainability and inclusion. It never loses sight of its profound and authentic creative vocation. We don’t just produce good looking projects here, we create something new every time, we take an extra step forward, we anticipate the trends and turn into a model. This means job opportunities, new investments, great attraction and possibilities for everyone.

MP: I’d like to think it’s an invitation to be brave: in fact, by going ahead with this courageous event, we took the risk of being open to criticism. At a historic time like this, displaying one’s limitations, and the desire to overcome them and the path we hope to take is proof of great seriousness and commitment. This is what the sector, which has always been keen on experimentation, says. It’s time to focus on quality and how we move forward.

A quick impression, hot on the heels of “supersalone.” Did the companies, the designers, and the architects change and respond to the new demands of home living? How were we and how are we now?

BS: I missed the Salone enormously. The operators and riggers did everything they possibly could to make this edition a real Salone del Mobile. Designers, architects and companies more than exceeded the expectations of the many visitors, coming up with new home furnishing and office solutions, inspired by the demands that surfaced during lockdown and which we are still experiencing. Smart working has meant rethinking our domestic spaces, making them more functional and versatile. These months of waiting haven’t been in vain. Creativity never stopped, it has come up with new ideas and new ways of living and occupying our homes. I’m really happy with what I saw.

MP: Now I can say that the eyes of people at the fair were full of joy. It was also interesting to see so many companies there, despite the fact that the rules of play have changed, seeing how they have transformed themselves, interpreted themselves differently and taken a fresh look at themselves. I was curious to see what they could come up with and I was positively surprised, things change and only those who have the courage to transform can move forward. The Salone was a great gentle giant, reflected by the courage to be there.

13 September 2021