As the largest lighting show in the world, the biannual Euroluce at Italy’s Milan Fairgrounds is often hailed as the creative and economic epicenter of the lighting industry. Quantifiable factors, such as show attendance, and intangibles like the overall mood and energy brimming throughout the halls and host city are hopeful indicators of how the lighting sector is faring in the face of the challenging global economic climate.
Show organizer Cosmit, which also hosts the concurrent Salone Internazionale del Mobile furniture fair as part of the Saloni, reports 278,000 trade attendees at this year’s event, just under 3 percent higher than in 2007. More than half of the attendees came from outside of Italy, with 152 countries represented. An additional 30,000 attendees arrived when the show was opened to the public for a single day on Sunday.
“The Saloni is definitely the most important trade show of the sector and to be a part of it is considered a very important moment of international visibility by companies,” says Cosmit President Carlo Guglielmi. “The corridors were full of people and many visitors signed contracts. The overall mood was of optimism and hope.”
Cosmit had some early indicators of the 2009 show’s success when exhibit space sold out with a waiting list of almost 500 companies. Just over half of those contending companies were from outside of Italy, underscoring the show’s global scope.
Ronnie Rosenbach, Marketing Manager for Boutique Design Products Inc., which imports contemporary European lines, has attended Euroluce for the past 20 years. Rosenbach was not able to make it to the show this year, but the company’s President had positive things to report back from his attendance, she says. “He made some good contacts, saw some great products as usual — that’s what you expect from Euroluce and it didn’t disappoint.”
Despite the official show attendance figures, Rosenbach says the consensus among exhibitors she knows is that traffic was off, just as it has been for many trade shows this year.
“Euroluce is still unique in that the furniture fair takes over Milan,” Rosenbach says. “It’s not like any other fair I’ve ever been to. That excitement was still there. This year was no different.”
Although design cognoscenti from all over the world, including North America, walk the show, historically, it has attracted only a few U.S. exhibitors. “It’s a huge investment,” Rosenbach says. “And the investment is daunting.”
Fanimation participated in the show for the first time this year. “It was an experiment,” says company President Nathan Frampton. “We were exploring the international market.”
As a Euroluce novice, Frampton was impressed by the sheer diversity of countries represented at the show, from India to South America, and he was surprised at such a small U.S. presence.
“Literally, almost every single country you could possibly imagine was at that show,” he says. “The least represented country was the U.S. I was surprised [to find that] for a show that is supposed to be the biggest decorative lighting show in the planet.”
Schonbek Worldwide Lighting has exhibited at the last five Euroluce shows. And the company, well established in the European market with export-friendly crystal chandeliers, plans to keep that tradition going for years to come, says Jim McMahan, Director of Marketing.
This year, the company benefited from a more desirable location and experienced a boost in traffic as a result.
“I think its safe to say the show was affected [by the economy], but as far as Schonbek, we were very happy with the attendance, happy with the level and quality of contacts we made at the show,” McMahan says.
He speculates that the fact that the show only takes place every other year entices attendees regardless of underlying economic conditions.
Guglielmi recommends that the lighting industry continue to move forward with innovations and technological advances in order to overcome current challenges.
“Quality of light means quality of life,” he says. “A more pleasant environment enhances quality of life.”