As Salone del Mobile, the world's premier interior design fair, opens in Milan, four leading figures in the world of design tell Zöe Dickens what the event means to them...
Giulia Molteni - marketing and communications director, Molteni&C and Dada
After cutting her teeth in New York at Loro Piana, Giulia Molteni returned to Italy in 2007 to join Gruppo Molteni, the high-end interior design and furnishings firm founded by her grandparents, Angelo and Giuseppina. Currently marketing and communications director for the company’s residential brands, Molteni&C and Dada, Molteni has been attending Salone since she was a child (her grandfather was also one of the fair’s founders) and the brand has showcased at every edition since the inaugural 1961 event.
How has Salone changed over the years? It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s a hugely important week for Milan thanks to the number of global brands that host dinners and exhibitions in the city to coincide with the fair.
The unmissable event: The official opening dinner.
Must visit: Rossana Orlandi gallery, a great space to see up-and-coming artists; La Triennale museum in Parco Sempione (pictured).
Best Salone discovery: A few years ago I spotted lighting designer Ron Gillard and introduced him to my father. He’d never done furniture before but I loved his aesthetic and now he is one of our most prestigious designers.
Eat: After a long day I head to the Armani-designed Nobu for fine dining, or to Sibilla on Via Mercato for great pizza.
Unwind: I always take three days off and head to the seaside with my family. I won’t see my children all week so it’s lovely to have some quality time with them.
Nicolò Rubelli - CEO, Rubelli Group
Born in Venice, Rubelli studied in Padua and joined the family fabrics firm in Como in 1992 – the year he attended Salone del Mobile for the first time. Now CEO of the Rubelli Group, he has visited nearly every Salone since and the fair has become integral to his business, with three of the group’s major brands – Rubelli Casa, Donghia and Armani/Casa by Rubelli – all joining the line-up of exhibitors. Salone has been highly influential in the brands’ development, with collaborators including Nava+Nava, who designed the popular Pila 47 chair, and Zanellato/Bortotto, creators of the Acqua Alta collection, who were discovered via Marva Griffin’s platform for young talent, SaloneSatellite.
Why do you choose to show at Salone? Salone is a great showcase for Made in Italy and the most important show for the furniture industry. Every year thousands of people visit the fair, so it’s the best way to meet clients from all over the world, show the collections and create new business. Be sure to visit the Brera design district (pictured), our flagship store is located there and you can see new furniture from Donghia and all the Rubelli Group textile collections.
The unmissable event: The Armani/Casa party, hosted by Giorgio Armani himself.
Eat: Trattoria Milanese on Via Santa Marta is the best place to sample traditional cuisine.
Stay: The Palazzo Parigi hotel (pictured), which often plays host to high-profile guests.
Unwind: In my house at Cortina in the Dolomites. By April the white of the snow has given way to green meadows and it’s the perfect place to relax.
Nerio Alessandri - founder, Technogym
Salone del Mobile veteran with over a decade’s worth of shows under his belt, Nerio Alessandri, founder of Technogym, regards the fair as a key opportunity for his business. After celebrating the opening of Technogym’s flagship store on Via Durini in Milan during 2017’s edition, the brand will return last year to showcase its Personal line of high-tech home gym equipment designed in collaboration with Antonio Citterio and almost certainly has something special up its sleeve for 2019.
What's great about Salone? I'm an industrial designer so what I really like is to get lost within the pavilions and discover what’s new and cool. Over the years, it has evolved into a multifaceted cultural and lifestyle event showcasing Italian lifestyle at its best – I love the energy.
Stay: Palazzo Parigi
Eat: Salumaio for a traditional bite; Seta at the Mandarin Oriental (pictured) for a more sophisticated menu.
Visit: Leonardo Da Vinci’s Cenacolo Vinciano (The Last Supper) and Pinacoteca di Brera gallery.
Unwind: With a late spring weekend at the seaside.
Raffaella Vignatelli - president, Luxury Living Group
As president of the Luxury Living Group – a high-end interior design firm whose brands include Fendi Casa, Bentley Home and Trussardi Casa – Salone del Mobile is key to helping Raffaella Vignatelli keep her finger on the pulse of the latest design trends. Headquartered at the Palazzo Orsi Mangelli in Forlì, near Bologna, the group has had a presence at Salone del Mobile for more than 40 years.
The best things about Salone? There is an energy and excitement born of the intensity of the show that makes it such an engaging and inspirational environment for new ideas.
What happens after Salone? I like to stay with my family and spend some time at the company offices. Everyday contact with employees is one of the things I love most about my job. Their passion prompts me to do my best and turn their ideas into results.