MILAN, ITALY - I Saloni will celebrate their 50th birthday next April. A milestone anniversary that will be celebrated in the full awareness of the fact that everything that has been accomplished by all those who have shown their commitment to the Saloni, right from the very first day, must be carried forward tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, for (at least) another 50 years, increasingly and constantly better. A great many events are planned, both at the Fairgrounds and in the city of Milan.

“50 years young” stands out in bold letters on the first publicity page advertising the upcoming Saloni. This is a tongue-in cheek way of proclaiming their age, an ironic play on words that resonates with their nature and spirit, young and lively.

They are wearing those 50 years well, given that visitor numbers have gone up from 12,100 in 1961 to 297,460 in 2010 and that the initial 328 exhibitors over what was then 11,000 square meters of display space have become over 2,500 in an area now measuring in excess of 200,000 square meters. The figures for 2010 were no less impressive, with 5,110 journalists from 65 different countries representing the press, and a visiting public of over 32,000 people on the Sunday alone.

Having notched up 50 years doesn’t mean that it’s time to rest on our laurels, rather that we must continue to build on them, looking to the future, the next 50 years, with a well-structured project that, along with the usual exhibition events – the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the International Furnishing Accessories Exhibition, the biennial Euroluce / International Lighting Exhibition and SaloneUfficio / International Biennial Workspace Exhibition and SaloneSatellite – will involve the city of Milan, providing an opportunity for reflection on design, on the world of industry that has made it all possible, on creativity and on culture.

From Tuesday 12th to Sunday 17th April, there will be a double appointment, both at the Fair itself and in the city, in keeping with Cosmit’s policy of being constantly on the look-out for the balance between tradition and innovation in the name of quality.

The Rho exhibition complex will provide a chance to see, touch and try out the best products the world of domestic furnishing has to offer – from beds to wardrobes to chairs to interior and exterior lighting systems to office furniture – in terms of typology – from stand-alone pieces to coordinates – and style – from classical to design to modern – not to mention the trendsetters of tomorrow.

There will be a new layout for the areas assigned to the exhibiting companies, with an extension of the design sector in Pavilions 16-20 and a new collection for Euroluce / the International Lighting Exhibition – in the interconnected 4 single-storey Pavilions, 9-11 and 13-15 – and SaloneUfficio / International Biennial Workspace Exhibition – in Pavilions 22-24 – strategically located opposite each other and between the West and South Gates (Porta Ovest and Porta Sud).

The city, for its part, will play host to an overarching cultural project that will be staged at various historical venues.

Innovation lies at the heart of all the events: innovation in people and in things, looking back at the past with an eye to the future. Innovation was what spurred on that initial group of entrepreneurs, culminating in September 1961 in the first ever Salone del Mobile. It was during this period that Italian design was born, a celebration of the amazing union between the business world and the creativity of the masters.

In an innovative twist, a theatrical piece by Laura Curino, produced by Piccolo Teatro di Milano, will be staged by Cosmit, in collaboration with Fondazione Giannino Bassetti, FederlegnoArredo and the Milan and Monza-Brianza Chambers of Commerce, which tells the story of the great Milanese protagonists, designers and design entrepreneurs, and examine the continuity of ideas and the industrial world that grew up around their creative genius. In February “Great Hands, Without End ? The birth and ascent of design in Milan: the Castiglionis, Magistretti, Menghi, Sottsass, Viganò, Zanuso”, opens at the Teatro Studio Expo, as part of the project “Achieving the improbable”.

An original way of recounting history while looking to the future, a platform for the ideas, attributes and experiences of Castiglioni, Magistretti, Menghi, Sottsass, Viganò, Zanuso and the entrepreneurs with whom they dealt, Cassina, Castelli, Gandini, Barassi, Bitossi and Sarfatti. Masters and entrepreneurs from the past, whose input provided the stimuli on which build the future, in other words the models and applications that would mark the fifty years to follow.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Salone del Mobile, the Triennale Design Museum will dedicate its fourth edition to the people and companies that have helped to create the Italian design system. “Dream Factories”, from 5th April 2011 to 26th February 2012.

This year, at Euroluce / International Lighting Exhibition, Cosmit will be gazing into the heart of Milan, right to its ancient core, comprised of what is now the area around Piazza della Scala-Piazza San Fedele. Here, where the ground rises gently, the ancients used to worship a small wood that created an arbour sheltered by trees they considered sacred, we intend to recreate the ancient sacred grove, the lucus as they used to call it, which – when the light fell on it – became “a multitude of trees of religious significance.” Attilio Stocchi’s scenography for “The Arbour” will transform the heart of Milan into a new, visionary Theatrum Naturae, where the trees once swathed in the Po Valley mists will flourish once again, to the sound of that extraordinary chorus produced by the flying species that populated it: goldfinches, long-tailed tits, hoopoes, common redstarts, wagtails. From 12th to 17th April.

Lastly, the suggestive setting of Piazza Duomo will provide the backdrop to “Principia – Forward Arts”, an exhibition devoted to an imagined future, a path through eight spaces designed by Denis Santachiara in collaboration with the Solares Fondazione delle Arti, scientists and young and famous artists. The most innovative scientific discoveries will be reinterpreted, manipulating science to create unique works of art that stem from a principium, largely attributable to the latest and most cutting-edge technologies. From 12th April to 1st May.

Building on the successful format of the last two editions, this year’s initiative – supported by Cosmit and Fondazione Cosmit Eventi – will be dedicated to autograph designs and sketches donated by graphic artists from all over the world to the FAI – The Italian Environment Fund – to be held at the Villa Necchi Campiglio Historic House Museum. “The Hand of the Graphic Designer” from 8th April to 8th May.

Virtual technology has enabled the Saloni to become even more accessible. Logging onto the Cosmit site with an iPhone or smartphone, the mobc3 platform set up by Neos (www.mobc3.com) automatically links to the optimised small screen Saloni preview application. Then, from the first day of the Fair onwards, it will also provide real time information on what is happening at the Saloni: not just the companies taking part, conventions and events. The wide-ranging info-mobility service set up by the Milan Fairgrounds together with Radio Traffic will provide real time information on parking and traffic conditions around the exhibition complex, on the motorways, the underground, railways and airports.

I Saloni: a guarantee of quality that stands the test of time, defining it.

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