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Salone Del Mobile 2024, the World’s Leading Furniture Fair, Sets Its Sights on the Future of Design

Maria Porro, the Italian Fair's First Woman President, Anticipates the Notable Novelties and Exciting Innovations Coming in April

BY // 01.31.24

Each April, a magnificent fair takes place in Milan, Italy. Salone del Mobile, launched in 1961 as a showcase for Italian furniture, has grown to become the largest exhibition of its kind in the world, often serving as a harbinger for the next great innovative design trend or product.

“What companies are doing and developing is always a secret, so it’s difficult to make a prediction,” shares Maria Porro, when asked about what the Milan Furniture Fair’s anticipated 300,000 to 400,000 visitors can expect in 2024. “But I think it’s good that it’s impossible to predict.”

Maria Porro, the youngest-ever president of Salon del Mobile

The industry-shaping products and exhibits at this year’s storied fair may still be unknown, but Porro herself, the first woman ever to run the event, already signals the Italian design community’s move toward a younger, less male-dominated pool of talent. Ahead of the increasingly internationally-minded fair, taking place from April 16 to 21, Porro has been touring the U.S. to promote Salone del Mobile, making stops in Dallas, New York, Chicago, and Miami.

“It’s very important to market the fair to the right countries and the right markets, and the U.S. is very important to Italian brands,” says Porro, who also serves as the head of communications for the family-owned Porro furniture brand. “We want to work not just on the quantity of the visitors but the quality.” 

And though predictions are hard to make, Porro did highlight a few notable elements of the 2024 Salone del Mobile.

SALONE DEL MOBILE MILANO (Photo by Alberto Strada)
The scene at Salone del Mobile, also known as the Milan Furniture Fair. (Photo by Alberto Strada)

Artificial Intelligence in the Design Industry

“Artificial intelligence is something I expect to see a lot of developments around,” says Porro. “It’s more than a subject… it’s like a new era.”

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Salone del Mobile is marking that new era by utilizing generative AI to create campaign imagery for the 2024 fair, a living graphic that will trace and analyze conversations surrounding Salone and design on social media.

“Salone is using AI to better understand the design community conversation and I do imagine that the companies will use AI in different ways,” Porro says. “It’s already being used for technical reasons and product development, but the big question is how to use it for creative reasons.

“It’s an open field that doesn’t have any rules right now,” Porro adds. “The next few years will be important for setting rules and understanding how to use it wisely.”

photo by Ludovica Mangini (Photo by Alberto Strada)
Scenes from the 2023 Salone del Mobile. (photo by Ludovica Mangini) (Photo by Alberto Strada)

The Salone del Mobile Difference

You won’t find any booths from the exhibitors at Salone del Mobile, which has taken place at Fiera Milano Rho since 2005.

“It’s like a blank canvas… it gives companies the opportunity to start from zero and build their own idea of what design is,” Porro says. “It’s the biggest freedom that we have. Instead of presenting products, companies present concepts.”

This year’s fair also marks the 25th anniversary of Salon Satellite, a gathering hub at the fair showcasing projects from designers under 35.

The Porro display at The Salone del Mobile. (Photo by Alberto Strada)

Design Predictions for Salone del Mobile 2024

Though it’s difficult to predict the innovation at Salone, Porro was able to make a few guesses.

“Sustainability will be integrated into design for sure,” she notes. “The outdoor trend was booming last year, but I think it will be rebalanced. We’ll see which companies keep going on this line of production and which will stop.”

Porro also expects new notable novelties in the Kitchen and Bathroom Pavilions.

Scenes from the 2023 Salone del Mobile. (photo by Ludovica Mangini)

An Inclusive Experience

“When Salone del Mobile started it was Italian companies showing to customers coming from Europe,” shares Porro. “Now, it’s really a moment to have a conversation about design with people from all around the world. It’s an occasion to discover the novelties, to have new contacts, and to create new synergies. It’s a chemical reaction.”

To cultivate conversations and community, the Salone team is building out more museum-style gathering spots inside the fairgrounds.

“We wanted to create more public spaces within the fair this year to allow people to stop, meet, and relax,” Porro adds.

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