The Next Wave

Italian design CEOs talk about how their companies are responding to a shifting, unpredictable global marketplace.

Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile will celebrate its golden anniversary next year. Founded in 1961, the Milan furniture fair remains the industry’s most visible international venue. The festivities begin this month in New York with I Saloni Milano, a six-week celebration of Italian art, culture, and, of course, design. For the occasion, we spoke with CEOs from ten of Italy’s top furniture-design firms. They’re trying to plot position and course for an industry whose survival has always depended on navigating between tradition and innovation. We asked them about their companies’ histories, signature products, and current lines. We discussed different approaches to European and American consumers, responses to the global financial meltdown, and strategies reaching emerging markets. Finally, we tried to identify those elements, ideas, and attitudes that still give “Made in Italy” its undeniable cachet.

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