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Is Salone Taking Over NeoCon?

Dear Stephen,

I am an A&D rep for one of the major manufacturers. We are only into January of 2024, and my A&D and dealer clients are already talking about attending #Salone2024, which is from April 16th until the 24th of this spring in Milan. These same specifiers were mostly just at #ArtBasel in #Miami in early December. What gives with the popularity of these high-brow shows? Are they the new #NeoCon?

Many of my customers from major design firms like #Gensler have an interest in residential design, even though it’s not the focus of their design practice. In other words, trends at Salone tend to influence what ends up on the NeoCon or #DesignDays showroom floor.

I looked into attending Salone to see and be seen with my customers and entertain them to build a better relationship. It’s an expensive investment, and rooms are scarce. But if I have key players going from major design firms, I feel there is no better way to bond than to be with them during this exciting design extravaganza! The hard part is convincing my boss of this, which is what I’m doing now…

I have been to Salone before and it’s very much what I believe Fashion Week to be like in NYC – exciting, crowded, chaotic, and everything you expect #Italy to be! It seems similar to Miami during Art Basel because the venues are not as constrained as NeoCon or DesignDays in #Chicago.

I’m building a case to attend with my company by explaining exactly which customers are attending and how I will be spending my time with them. What are your thoughts? Is Salone taking over NeoCon?




Dear Ciao!

Let me start by saying I do not think that Salone or Art Basel are shows that will replace NeoCon or DesignDays in Chicago.

These are all different trend-setting events that have specific audiences that cross over. Here’s your justification for going. It is a bonding experience with your customer, just like you said. And not one to be slept on.

Many of the major manufacturers like #Haworth have European divisions like #LifestyleDesign, and they have subsidiaries that will be flooding Salone. You’ve picked up on the new generational interest in attending both Art Basel in Miami and Salone in Milan. Much like an artist going to a specific environment to be inspired, these are shows that I would say are inspiring to the A&D community, which is part of your customer base.

Even contract furniture dealers recognize this more than ever before, which is how you know it’s important. Dealers tell me they attend Salone to get closer to the A&D community too. There you have it.

NeoCon and DesignDays in June are not going anywhere and will never be replaced by these shows. If you have the budget for it, attending all of them is important. For those of you in the office furniture industry alone, don’t forget about this year’s #Orgatec at the end of October in Cologne. It’s a very important show for designers, specifiers, and manufacturers alike.

Here’s my take on it: I’ve come to recognize that attending shows like Salone is no longer a luxury but a necessity if you want to keep up generationally with your client base and show your customers that you’re staying up to date on trends while creating a special bonding experience in a foreign country that your competitor who is not there can’t do.

So bottom line, if you go, go with a goal, and your competitor who is not there will be missing out sorely! Don’t forget to repost this on your LinkedIn so your boss can see!