The Fuorisalone board did not give up on the 2020 edition and decided to launch a digital platform to support its first virtual edition.
On March 27, at the peak of the Covid-19 emergency, the committee of the Salone del Mobile — the world’s finest design fair — formalized the cancellation of the 2020 edition, postponing it to April 2021 for the next fair’s edition. Much was said in the following months, with many in the business envisioning a total cancellation of the Milan Design Week. It was perhaps the provocation from the UK leading design agency, Dezeen, to organize a Virtual Design Fair, which would have substituted the Italian one, that sparked a new debate on how to keep the Design Week alive and one of its flagship and most successful events, Fuorisalone.
Fuorisalone is not your common fair exposition: it is not organized by any specific private entity nor is it managed by any public authority. Since the eighties, the world’s prime interior designers have been gathering in different Milan neighborhoods and, together with local private entities, have been autonomously organizing, promoting and animating side events to the Salone del Mobile to present their most innovative creations. Over time, Fuorisalone has become an international attraction, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world, and has refined its format to the latest trends and attractions, while making Milan the world’s center of interior design. More crucially, its side events have recently even outplayed the expositions of the Salone del Mobile bringing many partners to prefer Fuorisalone’s attractive events to showcase their products.
To mark its singular approach and its constant predisposition to innovate, the Fuorisalone board did not give up on the 2020 edition and decided to launch a digital platform to support its first virtual edition, beginning on June 15. The Committee was and is still convinced that the Milan Design Week cannot be reduced to a digital version, as a combination of so much excellence and emotions that are uniquely experienced only when in person. Still, to accommodate all the companies that need to reach the public of Fuorisalone even without being there, they decided to rethink the usual format and embark on a new project which may represent a new beginning for the Design Week.
A new website with four new features
Between June 15-21, 2020, Fuorisalone will not switch off and aims to live through the Covid-19 restraints launching a new web platform to give its clients, partners and the public the experience of the 2020 interior design world’s innovations. At the core of the Fuorisalone 2020 project there is the newly designed website, with four new features: Fuorisalone TV, Fuorisalone Meets, Fuorisalone Japan and Fuorisalone China.
The event guide remains the central feature of the project to guide customers through the digital experience. The digital guide will be updated on a daily basis directly by its author (company, designer, press office) with the possibility to insert any useful content in order to present the new products. Image galleries, downloadable files, external links and videos: all will be displayed on Fuorisalone TV channels and on every social media account of the event.
Fuorisalone TV and Fuorisalone Meets are the real digital innovations of the project. Presentations, interviews and product showcases will be streamed every day, on demand, through the Fuorisalone TV platform, all free for public users. This kind of promotion aims to improve the digital communication strategy of the brands participating in the Design Week, offering an in-depth view of the 2020 design innovations, live and with a high-resolution experience. Moreover, designers would also have the possibility to interact with the public even more directly through Fuorisalone Meets, a webinar platform to discuss each product’s specifications with the customer.
Finally, to attract the Chinese and Japanese audience, which, over the years, have followed Design Week with great interest, populating the streets of Milan, this year’s edition will also have dedicated Fuorisalone China and Fuorisalone Japan channels. The editorial plan for these channels provides for the promotion of worldwide design products, including Chinese and Japanese ones. On social media channels, brands will be given the opportunity to broadcast live streaming events, talks, product presentations and previews for the Chinese and Japanese communities, aiming to maintain a historical link between the eastern and the western design cultures.
To appear on all the channels and increase their potential views, companies and designers will have to invest dedicated fees for each platform. Basic, plus and extra packages are still available, with prices ranging from €300 to almost €7000, depending on the services offered and the platforms chosen.
A new beginning?
The new formats proposed for the Fuorisalone 2020 edition are the result of a notable networking effort from the members of the Fuorisalone committee during the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to the encouraging numbers on the use of social media and digital platforms from the 2019 edition (2.41 million views for the Fuorisalone.it website), members of the committee that usually coordinate events on Milan’s streets agreed to use digital solutions to allow design companies not to lose contact with customers and with the public of Fuorisalone. The common goal is to re-invent and share new ways of participation and communication to mass events which can then be an inspiration not only to the design world or for international fairs, but also to the fashion sector, for example, which has similarly been hit hard by the pandemic.
So, is this the new strategy for the post-Covid-19 public events era? We hope not, of course, as we would all love to once again experience the immersion and emotions that live events offer. However, we do see benefits in embracing digital solutions for these types of exhibitions. Firstly, by employing digital solutions, Fuorisalone 2020 has not been postponed, contrary to what happened to many other 2020 events. Even through different tools and formats, designers and customers will still be able to share their love for design, even without attending events in person, and design companies won’t see their yearly work go up in smoke.
Secondly, digital technologies will allow the expansion of the communication of fairs, upgrading it from its past standards and helping it reach a larger number of customers and markets, without experiencing too many logistic issues. Re-thinking fairs this way would also bring in the aspect of sustainability: less environmental impact and a better and more sustainable management of the flow of visitors. Thus, the Fuorisalone committee can learn how to favor and encourage visitors, without overburdening the city of Milan and its characteristic boroughs. And finally, the Fuorisalone 2020 idea is a low cost one for exhibitors, compared to the expensive preparations and installations of the previous years.
Of course, compared to previous editions, the effect of it will be totally different and the city of Milan would also miss its critical market return. It could probably never think of forcing its Fashion Week to be purely digital, even if technically that could be possible. However, we should all appreciate the effort of the Fuorisalone committee in giving its clients and its public a chance to once again experience its design culture, a little moment of pure beauty in one dire year.
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