The Importance of Housewarming: Trade fair booths get a revamp

We have been talking for a while about Housewarming – an overarching design direction that sees interior spaces, both residential and contract, embracing warmer, cozier and more personal looks “because home is no longer a place, it’s a feeling”.

We have been tracking how this has also come to retail and hospitality. Brands are going full-on lifestyle with displays and set-ups that blur the boundaries and offer customers a more intimate and welcoming experience. Hotels are being launched where everything down to the slippers is purchasable, while across travel, healthcare, restaurants and entertainment the aesthetic resorts to a range of textures, colours and decor that evoke the feeling of home.

Eurostar lounge by Softroom

West Elm Hotels

Last but not least to join the game are trade shows as well: at the latest edition of Milan Design Week, brands went above and beyond to create displays that looked like everything but a fair booth – and instead, indeed, they were all about the apartment feeling. The different rooms were styled and displayed to create a lived-in feeling, curating all details including the books on the shelves and the knick-knacks on the mock-mantelpiece or the toothbrush in the bathroom and the casually placed mug, with that “be right back” feeling. The Visit by Studiopepe was a great example, but many more followed suit both across town and on the fair grounds, such as the gorgeous Carl Hansen’s The Milan Home, Diesel Living or again Baxter Cinema to mention a few – creating all-encompassing, immersive apartment-like spaces that looked just familiar and welcoming enough to get involved and start overlaying these images with our own spaces, thinking about where and what and how certain pieces would fit.

The Milan Home by Carl Hansen

The Milan Home by Carl Hansen

The Visit by Studiopepe

Because this is the key: creating spaces where the visitor can swiftly and smoothly get guided into visualising how the pieces that are actually presented will look in a real (well, almost) home. The latest in accomplishing this to the nine was newly launched Nomad Monaco – the youngest and brightest star to join the trade show sky, this show aims at revisiting the traditional idea of a fair with a fresh format, ideal to appeal to a customer that craves to be surprised, spoken to and cocooned, all in the blink of an eye. Catering to design collectors, this event took place at the same time of Montecarlo art fair, and captivated the crowds in town with a set up that is indeed light years from the stereotypical solid colour carpet / drywall combo that characterises most trade shows. Nomad showcased some of the most interesting design galleries on the international landscape across the gorgeous rooms of Villa La Vigie, formerly belonging to Karl Lagerfeld no less.

Nomad Nomaco at Villa La Vigie

The hardwood floors, the elegant mouldings, the sun filling the rooms that opened onto a landscaped garden and of course the luxurious setting certainly worked to set the context for the collectible design pieces displayed throughout the palace – it looked and felt like a private home. Each of the 15 galleries had a dedicated space, and cleverly displayed the artworks to create corners, settings that certainly fascinated immediately to the visitor – this is the kind of interior this customer lives in, and therefore can picture the pieces into their own residences.

Furthermore, the whole event came with a series of collateral initiatives that complemented this feeling of being cared for, of being spoken to directly – from simple but fundamental shuttle services to offering visits to artist residences and historic venues, as well as inviting speakers of the caliber of Sir Norman Foster; and just pampering the visitor as much or as little as needed in such a delicate and discreet way that felt very personal.

Nilufar Gallery

Gallery Fumi

That is where they made the difference, and that is where they lead by example in this rapidly saturating market: by offering the potential customer an intimate, curated experience that goes beyond transaction and speaks of lifestyle. Of course, this is not for all markets and audiences: but this is certainly the way forward to earn a spot in the mind of a constantly bombarded customer, by connecting through a (seemingly) bespoke experience, enveloping it into a surrounding that speaks and looks familiar, and thus build a relationship. Make them feel at home and this will not go unnoticed (or unrewarded).

Carwan Gallery

Galerie BSL

Giustini / Stagetti Galleria O. Roma

Etage Projects


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