I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to travel to Milan for the HOMI Lifestyle Trade Fair in January 2015.
The fair was smaller than some of the other fairs I have attended however it was more personal and I was able to spent time chatting to each supplier, finding out the process of manufacture; the concepts behind the designs and understanding the materials that they were using. Also of key interest was the feasibility of getting the items to South Africa and the costs involved.
I must admit that I have gained invaluable insight into the Italian furniture and accessories market. I was always aware of their reputation for "Italian quality", but I was even more impressed with this concept when I saw the obvious pride that the Italians put into their work. Still so much of what they manufacture is done by hand.
This not only shows their love and passion for what they do but the importance of tradition. And even with this concept of "tradition" the items they produce are incredibly modern. The fact that each item is handmade means that there is such a fantastic attention to detail, and I also discovered from my lengthy discussions with the suppliers, this allows for greater design flexibility… if you want it in a larger size or different colour – “Non c’è problema”!
The amount of Crystal and Glassware on show was amazing, with such fantastic colours and designs to choose from. The use of gold in their details is quite impressive and it is used extensively, even gold dust inside the crystal sculptures. This of course makes the items rather pricey, but it is also rather refreshing to note the detail and the extent that the manufacturer/ craftsman to ensure that the client is getting that one-of-a-kind piece that cannot easily be mass-produced.
After the show I jumped on a train to Florence and was escorted to some lovely little Italian towns where I was able to visit the various factories and see even more products: from contemporary beds, headboards and pedestals to crystal and ceramic vases; lighting and even leather.
Italy is a truly amazing place. I love the old buildings; the language; the people; their sense of style and design… and of course the food!
I hope to visit again soon.