The 46th International Furniture Show closed its doors this year after pulling in over 270 thousand visitors. This makes it a record-breaking edition, with over 20% more visitors than 2006, when the inauguration of the new expo centre was an attraction in itself and, if the biennial Euroluce show, the International furnishing accessory and Satellite Show are also taken into account, with 2,759 exhibitors taking part.

These figures substantiate the optimistic forecasts for the show, after a prosperous year for the wood and furniture industries (with a 3% increase in turnover over the previous year), and throughout the hectic Milanese design week – not just within the confines of the expo centre but also in the events of the Fuori Salone held around the city and, in particular, in the Tortona district – there was a palpable sense of vitality in the sector.

Optimistic projections aside, one of the most important messages given by the show was that both companies and designers are investing significantly in product. Corroborating this impression are, for instance, the many new chair designs presented this year. The chair has always been the most popular of all themes among designers, and this is perhaps what makes exploring new interpretations of the theme such an irresistible challenge.

Another challenge attracting companies and designers alike is the pursuit of lightness. While it is no longer news that the current tendency toward dematerialisation, whether real or imaginary (in response to the mountains of refuse generated by today’s throwaway society), has inspired ingenious studies in the reduction of form, volume, weight and energy, advanced materials and technologies now also play a decisive role in this aim.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 165

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