Stefano Boeri

Stefano Boeri named curator of "unmissable" Salone del Mobile furniture fair in September

Milanese architect Stefano Boeri will curate this year's Salone del Mobile, where members of the public will be able to buy discounted products for the first time.

Boeri will deliver a revamped format for this year's fair, which is anticipating fewer exhibitors and professional visitors than previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The event we are working on will in effect be an unmissable event, open to both operators and the general public," said Boeri.

"In addition to the recent and best innovations of the companies, high-quality design products will be hosted for sale at prices dedicated to the occasion, to respond to the desire expressed today by thousands of families and companies to rethink the spaces of the home and work."

Salone del Mobile
Top: Architect Stefano Stefano Boeri is this year's curator. Above: Salone del Mobile last happened in 2019

Salone del Mobile, the world's biggest and most important furniture fair, usually only allows public visitors on the final weekend, with the stands presenting products for a professional audience.

Public will be able to buy from brands

This year, the public "will have access to the fairgrounds for the entire duration of the event," Salone del Mobile said.

"As well as the opportunity to admire the latest products and creations issued by the brands over the last 18 months, there will also be a chance for visitors to purchase goods showcased by the companies at exclusive prices," it added.

"The 2021 event confirms, once again, the centrality of Milan as the world capital of creative innovation and social generosity," added Boeri, who will work with a team of "internationally renowned architects and professionals" to deliver the revised format.

Salone del Mobile usually takes place in April but was forced to move to September for its 59th edition due to the pandemic.

However, the event was thrown into uncertainty last month when president Claudio Luti resigned saying his vision for the September fair "had failed" amid rumours that key brands had refused to participate over concerns that visitors would stay away.

Organiser votes for event to go ahead

Federlegno Arredo, the Italian timber-trade body that owns the fair, later voted to press ahead with the fair and yesterday announced the appointment of Boeri as curator.

Cancelling the fair would have been a huge blow to Milan's economy and prestige, with the city fearing it could lose out to rival European cities.

"It would cause relevant damages to all the linked services of Salone and fuorisalone, to the international image of the city and to the whole world of small and medium-sized companies," Boeri told Dezeen in a conversation on 28 April.

"Waiting for the 60th edition of 2022 we have to design a special edition of the Salone, smaller in terms of spaces but bigger in the ambition to tell the great effort of the companies to continue working on the innovation of both products and materials," he said.

Trade body warns of "risks"

However, southern Italian trade body Confapi Matera expressed concern about the fair, saying the event "risks being deserted".

In a statement published on 10 May, the body said that "the overwhelming majority" of its members would not participate, citing a lack of time to prepare their booths and the expectation of fewer Asian visitors representing key export markets.

In addition, it said that uncertainty over international progress in controlling Covid-19 made attending the fair risky for its members.

"Economic uncertainty and concern about contagion, therefore, are two deterrent factors that risk turning the 2021 edition of the fair into a flop," it said, adding that its members would wait for the 2022 edition.

"This year would be a waste of money for businesses," it said.

Boeri is an Italian architect based in Milan who best known for his vertical forests, high-rise residential towers with planted balconies that surround their occupants with greenery. He is the president of the Triennale Milano museum.

Recent projects by Boeri include designs for flower-shaped coronavirus vaccination centres and plans to build a timber tower next to the Pirellino office skyscraper in Milan.

Salone del Mobile and related fuorisalone events will take place from 5 - 10 September 2021 in Milan. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.