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Salone del Mobile "in the balance" says mayor of Milan

Salone del Mobile "in the balance" says mayor of Milan as brands pull out

Milan mayor Beppe Sala has urged Italian brands to support the Salone del Mobile after the resignation of the fair's president threw plans for the September event into chaos.

Sala warned that Milan could lose its position as the world's leading city for design unless exhibitors rally in support of the fair.

He said this year's edition is "in the balance" amid rumours that leading domestic brands have refused to take booths at the fair over concerns that foreign exhibitors and visitors will stay away this year.

Luti's resignation "not a good sign"

In a video posted on his Instagram account, Sala waved a letter from Italian president Sergio Mattarella, confirming that he would be attending the opening of the Salone del Mobile, which is scheduled to take place on 5 September.

"Salone del Mobile, however, is in the balance, due to the perceived unavailability of some exhibitors to be there and yesterday's resignation of president Claudio Luti are certainly not a good sign," Sala said, according to La Repubblica.

He called on "the operators of the world of the Salone del Mobile and the world of furniture" to support the fair.

Otherwise, he warned, Milan could lose its position as home to the world's biggest and most important furniture fair.

Sala "cannot allow" Milan to lose its design crown

"Let's be careful, because it is not so obvious that there are no other European cities that can face these difficulties to enter and claim an important role in design," he said. "As mayor of Milan, I cannot allow it."

Claudio Luti resigned as president of the fair yesterday, saying his vision for September's event "has failed".

In his resignation statement Luti, who is CEO of furniture and lighting brand Kartell, hinted at the failure of key brands to "team up" to ensure the success of the fair.

"I respect everyone's decisions but I do not share the desire not to team up in such a delicate moment and to at least give up trying to define a concrete path to do what could be the symbol of the country's recovery," Luti said.

"I certainly recognise the difficulties and also the unknowns that prevent us now from clarifying all the uncertainties given by the still looming pandemic scenario. But what matters to me is the common will of purpose, which has failed."

Shares fall on news of Luti's resignation

The annual Salone del Mobile is the world's biggest and most important furniture fair, attracting 386,236 visitors from 181 countries when it was last held in 2019.

The fair, and the parallel fuorisalone events that take place across the city, are of vital economic importance to Milan, bringing an estimated €1.3 billion to its economy each year.

News of Luti's resignation saw shares in Fiera Milano, the exhibition centre that hosts the annual fair, drop more than 10 per cent, according to Milano Finanza.

The venue will lose up to €30 million if the fair cancels its contract while the fair will face a penalty of nine million euros it if pulls out, according to Corriere della Sera.

Earlier this month, sixteen design platforms that host fuorisalone events vowed that their shows will take place regardless of what happens to Salone del Mobile.

Fair will discuss what to do "in the next few days"

Salone del Mobile was postponed from its usual April slot to September due to the coronavirus last November. It is now scheduled to take place from 5 to 10 September.

In a statement issued today, Salone del Mobile said: "No decisions have yet been taken as to the organisation of the Salone del Mobile Milano 2021. The company's board of directors will meet in the next few days to discuss all future plans."

Image courtesy of Salone del Mobile.

Salone del Mobile 2021 and parallel fuorisalone events are due to take place in Milan from 5 to 10 September. For an up-to-date list of architecture and design events, visit Dezeen Events Guide.