#Designoeson: one year after the start of the emergency

A review of 2020 with furniture companies one year after the first emergency

One year after the first lockdown we have interviewed the same companies again to understand how 2020 went and what they expect for 2021 and future years. We have also talked about Salone del Mobile.Milano, its absence and the next edition, scheduled for September 5-10, 2021. Here are their answers.

Salone del Mobile.Milano 2019, ph: Andrea Mariani, courtesy Salone del Mobile

All in all, 2020 was a positive year

The answers to the first question (how did 2020 go and what do you expect for 2021?) were positive. 2020 ended less worse than expected and 2021, even with the difficulties related to this situation, promises to be quite positive.

Roberto Gavazzi, CEO of Boffi | De Padova

Roberto Gavazzi, CEO of Boffi | De Padova, told us that “2020 was certainly a complex year, but, all in all, it went better than expected. It was a good testbed for new technologies as the only communication tools, and we realized that we can work even in difficult conditions. The fact that people all over the world were forced to stay home helped us a lot; furniture has regained considerable importance and has been affected much less than other sectors. Among the markets that fared best, there is certainly Asia, which keeps showing double-digit growth, and the European market did not fare so badly either. The domestic market is the one that suffered the most. 2021 seems to be off to a good start, but it will greatly depend on the evolution of the overall situation.” Read here the 2020 interview

Daniele Mazzon, General Manager of Cristina Rubinetterie

Cristina Rubinetterie had a bright 2020, as it took advantage of 2020 to completely renew its image, from rebranding to a new catalog and a new website. Daniele Mazzon, General Manager, explains: “In addition to investing on the image, in 2020 we launched three new products, East Side and Tabula, designed by angelettiruzza design, and Cross Road, by Cristina Design Lab. Among other things, the East Side series by angelettiruzza design won the Archiproducts Design Awards 2020. For 2021, Cristina Rubinetterie’s goals are to increase its presence and visibility in both domestic and international markets, launch new products to meet our customers’ demands also working on customizations, and start exploring the contract industry.”  Read here the 2020 interview


Massimiliano Messina, CEO of Flou

Massimiliano Messina, CEO of Flou, explained that 2020 went “Overall well, considering everything that happened from February 2020 to today. We ended the year with more orders than we were able to fulfill… So we started 2021 with interesting prospects. I think 2021 will be a year of “rebirth”; there will be difficulties throughout 2021 and beyond, but with gradual improvement; the pandemic will probably leave us a greater attention on our home and domestic spaces. 2020 and the lockdown have encouraged us to focus more on our home and domestic spaces in general.”  Read here the 2020 interview


Silvia Gallotti, CEO of Gallotti & Radice

Also for Silvia Gallotti, CEO of Gallotti & Radice, “Overall, 2020 was not a bad year. From a moment of ‘crisis’ due to the pandemic, we were able to seize the opportunity to take advantage of digital tools and shorten the distances with all our customers around the world, and in 2021 we will keep improving digitalization. The experience we have gone through, both personally and professionally, has profoundly changed us, but fortunately the home and furniture have regained importance. Therefore, now we need to continue on the path we have taken and develop a long-term strategy focused on omnichanneling.”  Read here the 2020 interview


Alberto Lualdi, amministratore delegato di Lualdi

A positive year also for Alberto Lualdi, CEO of Lualdi, who commented: “Despite the fears arising from the uncertainty caused by the lockdown, we are fully satisfied with how we closed 2020. After the slowdown in the first half of the year, construction sites have reopened and the retail sector is also gradually recovering. The beginning of 2021 is proving to be very lively, and overall we are very optimistic and confident that the reopening of construction sites will have a positive impact on retail as well. Our new challenges will deal with personalization and service.”  Read here the 2020 interview


Giovanni Del Vecchio, CEO of Giorgetti

2020 was a very busy and fruitful year also for Giorgetti. Giovanni Del Vecchio, CEO, explained that: “2020 was a year of challenges that called into question many paradigms for us and, more in general, for our industry. But we have never stopped, and the design world has even accelerated; only the retail sector suffered some slowdown. Asia struggled especially in the first half of the year, but accelerated dramatically in the second half. In 2020 we opened a new single-brand store in London, the new Giorgetti headquarters at The Centrale in New York, new stores in New Delhi and Johannesburg, and we completely renovated our Atelier in Milan. 2021 does not look very different from 2020 as to trade shows and events in presence, therefore we are refining what 2020 taught us in terms of balance between physical and digital modes. The future is undoubtedly going towards a balance of them, although customers, professionals and partners must have the opportunity to touch products, refined materials, and projects.”  Read here the 2020 interview

Paolo Castelli, amministratore delegato di Paolo Castelli SpA

Also Paolo Castelli, CEO of Paolo Castelli spa, displays moderate optimism. “Since we have different business channels, to make a comparison with the past, I focus on the single product unit, which maintained the same sales and turnover as 2019. Therefore, there was no growth, but we are happy that we have not lost the challenge that was and is still waiting for us. In the meantime, in 2020 we presented 4 collections, (Inspiration, Greenkiss, Oggetti d’Autore, Seventyonepercent), which represent our investment for the future.”  Read here the 2020 interview


Nicola Coropulis, CEO of Gruppo Poltrona Frau

Also Nicola Coropulis, CEO of Poltrona Frau, feels satisfied. “Despite the challenges posed by the health and economic emergency and the first half of the year strongly affected by the sudden outbreak of the pandemic, the residential business in the second half recovered very well, allowing us to close the year at a slightly lower level than 2019. A result that is certainly due to a renewed focus on home furnishings following the lockdown. On the contrary, the activities of our Custom Interiors Division, linked to public space furnishings, suffered delays and postponements and, in some cases, even cancellations. For 2021 and the future in general, the newfound centrality of domestic spaces may act as a stimulus to the purchase of furniture, characterized by new modalities with an increasing interaction between the physical and the digital mode, where the direct interaction between brands and customers will become increasingly important.” Read here the 2020 interview

Maurizio Santambrogio, CEO of Res

Maurizio Santambrogio, CEO of Res, is very pleased with the 2020 results. “In spite of the first months of the year, which did not look promising at all, in the second part of the year we concluded several very interesting projects, therefore, our analysis cannot be positive but is not even as negative as it could have been. In my opinion, the total lockdown in March and April, when everything was at a standstill, heavily affected economy in general. However, once we regained minimum mobility, we were able to start working again and sign contracts for important jobs, even abroad. For the near future, we expect ongoing projects to continue, but the situation is a bit uncertain, so it is hard to make predictions.” Read here the 2020 interview

Fabiana Scavolini, CEO of Scavolini

Also Fabiana Scavolini, CEO of Scavolini, displays some optimism. “Like all other sectors, the furniture sector has suffered the consequences of the pandemic, albeit to a less extent. For us, the last months of the year turned out to be positive. We received new orders, and the turnover that partly recovered the losses of lockdown months. Now, the challenge is recovery. Despite the fragile setting, the current liveliness of international markets makes us look to the future with confidence and optimism. In the coming years, all sectors, not just furniture, will certainly have to face a reassessment of the traditional models of relationship with the consumer, where the ability to integrate on and off line modes will play a central role.” Read here the 2020 interview


Filippo Santambrogio, CEO of Viva Porte

All in all, it was not such a bad year for Filippo Santambrogio either, CEO of Viva Porte. “2020 was a particular year, in which companies had to reorganize their commercial structure. On the other hand, consumers paid new attention to their homes. The result, despite the global emergency, was positive, also thanks to the new products. For the future, we must increasingly focus on international development, with a consolidated presence on individual markets. As a matter of fact, in such an interconnected world, opportunities can arise at any time.”  Read here the 2020 interview


Matteo Moretti, General Manager of Vistosi

Matteo Moretti, General Manager of Vistosi, confirmed that the company “concluded 2020 in line with the preset goals. Moreover, we have started 2021 in a positive way, and in the coming months there will be important new products, and several projects and activities.” Read here the 2020 interview


Alessandro Buccella, CEO of Vibieffe

Also Alessandro Buccella, CEO of Vibieffe, confirms that 2020 did not go as badly as it could have. 2020 started with a health emergency that at first baffled us. The first solution we found was the production of digital content and materials. Then, during the year, we presented the new models that were ready month by month, trying to keep our relationship with customers alive. And we also involved the staff to make them feel part of a team. Now, we hope that the pressure of the pandemic will gradually ease and that in 2021 we can hold the Salone del Mobile. We were able to work without it, but the Salone is Milan’s stage par excellence.”

In the absence of the Salone del Mobile, what tools were favored?

The answer to this question was almost unanimous: digital communication helped tremendously. In general, video conferences replaced in-person meetings. Some offered remote assistance for assembly, others have signed contracts avoiding long journeys and think they will do the same in the future. All companies have taken advantage of the emergency to upgrade their digital networks; many have produced corporate videos to present products to customers. Everyone, without exception, confirms that the Salone del Mobile cannot be replaced and that furniture is a special product, where physical contact cannot be eliminated. At the same time, all the interviewed companies confirm that this unexpected acceleration in digitalization will make it possible to unleash new potential.

Design and the Salone del Mobile.Milano: what future?

Now let’s come to the great protagonist: the Salone del Mobile, or rather, Salone del Mobile.Milano. When we asked “Have you missed the Salone del Mobile?”, the answer was unanimous: “Yes”. Do we need the Salone del Mobile? A unanimous chorus of yes, again. On the contrary, there are many doubts when it comes to the date of the next Salone del Mobile.Milano. At the moment, the dates of September 5 to 10 are confirmed, but the situation is too uncertain to know what will happen, even in just two months. There are many variables, from the vaccination campaign to the evolution of the pandemic in the world.

Closing party of Salone del Mobile 2019, ph: Alessandro Russotti, courtesy Salone del Mobile

There are some shared concerns. The first, of course, concerns the possibility of travelling and of having visitors from abroad. Several companies raise doubts about the number of people that could visit the Salone del Mobile in Milan, due to the pandemic, closed borders, lack of flights, simple fear. This number may not be enough to justify the investment.

Others are puzzled by the idea of holding an edition of Salone del Mobile in September and another in April, only six months later. That would mean a large investment in set-up, new products and a stay in Milan, duplicated in too short a time.

Daniele Lago: taking part in the Salone del Mobile is a sign of solidarity

Therefore, it is currently impossible to foresee what will happen as far as the Salone del Mobile.Milano is concerned. We conclude with a message of optimism and hope by Daniele Lago, CEO of Lago. “The Salone del Mobile is fundamental for our system. We at Lago have estimated that participating in the Salone would be more convenient than organizing an event in our headquarters, inviting our best customers. Moreover, I believe participating and supporting the Salone del Mobile would be a nice sign of solidarity that could be done by all those who are able to do so. Let’s remember that the induced activity of fitters has suffered much more than our sector. I confirm that Lago would participate in the Salone del Mobile even if it were in September and in April. In general, I am optimistic and I think that, with the vaccination campaign and the evolution of the pandemic, we will be able to hold the Design Week in September, maybe not with the same numbers of 2019 but with relevant numbers nevertheless. And I think that it would be a symbol of rebirth to get back to some sort of normality as soon as possible.”

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