Design Inspiration from Salone del Mobile

Gianluca Santosuosso, Senior Experience Designer at FreemanXP shares his key takeaways and brand activations from the design event.

Salone del Mobile — otherwise known as the Milan Furniture Fair — is the place to visit to experience the latest in furniture and design trends. Held annually in Milan, the show spans the FieraMilano venue, plus various areas of the city are transformed into design-led installations during the event.

There is something to see on almost every corner, and brands from the worlds of fashion, automotive, technology and more now activate around the event, a move that highlights how marketers can gain inspiration from what they see and apply it to their own event strategies.

Embracing design to tell the brand story

Step into the main venue and you’ll immediately get a feel for the calibre of stand designs at Salone del Mobile. Designers, whether they be architects, graphic designers, or experience designers like us in the brand experience world, are known for having an eye for even the most minute of details. It’s clear that brands are aware of this, and they want to catch our attention in all of the right ways. At this year’s event, many of their spaces represented small architectural buildings, and unique angles and designs were key, plus high-end materials such as marble and glass were used to draw attendees in. Overall branding is very low key at this event, and companies instead opt to tell their story through the unique design, look and feel of their space.

Choosing the sustainable route

There was a clear sustainable theme here, with brands opting to incorporate re-usable and recyclable materials such as clay tiles and wood into their spaces. This created a rustic, pared-back feel, and also pointed to the brands’ environmental consciousness. The use of greenery including trees, shrubs and flowers was also apparent at the show, where it was used to frame pathways, create entire gardens, and inside the spaces themselves. This approach ties in with the event’s focus on the home — we all want to live in a clean environment — as well as a general shift towards eco-friendly practices in the design world.

The new tech making waves

The use of OLED lights (or organic light emitting diodes) was an interesting one, as it highlighted how they are being embraced in the brand experience space. While typically used in mobile phone screens and TVs with curved edges, they are very customisable — a feature that brands used to their advantage at the event. They played around with different sizes and thicknesses to illuminate products such as shoes and perfumes, and Panasonic created a multi-coloured light installation that took over an entire room.

Taking brand activations outside 

There has been an increasing trend towards brands activating outside of the main event in recent times. This year they chose to take over historic buildings and palaces, and even disused garages and old cinemas throughout the city. Examples include fashion house Trussardi, who designed an installation made out of jeans, and Samsung built a high-tech space in a post-industrial part of the city.

Other brands that embraced the trend included Mini and Nintendo, however the highlight for me was an immersive experience from fashion retailer Cos. The brand created a tree made of pipes, which produced soap bubbles that released smoke when they were caught or landed on the ground. They provided hours of fun, and what’s interesting is that this spoke to the brand’s aesthetic really well, but it’s logo could not be seen anywhere. The activation played on all of our senses and made for a truly memorable experience.

From general design trends to the use of unique materials and inventive ways with technology, Salone del Mobile is a great event that can arm us with new inspiration to design and deliver meaningful and memorable brand experiences for our clients. 



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