The Milan Furniture Fair is undoubtedly a model worth studying in a bid to understand the reasons for its success. The Italian yachting industry, a world leader, just like the timber and furniture sector, could take inspiration from it and emulate its strong points
by Francesco Michienzi
The incredible success of the Milan Funiture Fair stems from work dating back to the 2000s, when Italian industrialists took the brave step of deciding that they would no longer take their new products to Cologne, home to the leading trade fair of the time, but instead would save them to showcase in Milan.
Their aim was one day to knock the German event off the top spot. Few would have predicted it, but that’s exactly what happened. A sizeable group of leading companies willing to work as a team led to the development of one of the most positive experiences in the history of Italian capitalism. There were almost 400,000 visitors this year, of whom two-thirds were foreign – the event in Milan has become something that the best architects and designers on the planet cannot afford to miss. Naturally, references to current events in the Italian yachting industry are not coincidental.
Just like the furniture sector, Italy is a global leader in the construction of pleasure craft, responsible for 40% of the world’s orders, and second in absolute terms only to the United States. So why couldn’t those in the yachting business in our country do what the furniture makers did in the 2000s, when they decided to show their new products in Milan instead of Cologne?
Currently, all yacht launches take place at foreign boat shows or at private events. The manufacturers all have valid reasons for making these decisions, but I think that, with a bit of courage and collaboration, we could recover the central position that Italy once occupied, but has since lost. This is not the place to analyse the reasons for the lack of collaboration between Italian shipbuilding companies, but I believe we need to reflect openly on what we want the Italian nautical industry to look like in the future.
Discussing the future in Italy means tackling a well-rooted resistance to taking a long-term view, and therefore producing a strategic vision.
Italy has a tradition of a vibrant culture expressed entirely in the present which, spontaneously and unwittingly, has mixed stoic and epicurean philosophies.
During June, elections will be held for the new president of UCINA, the Italian marine industry association. There are three candidates: Andrea Razeto, vice-president of UCINA and head of the International Council of Marine Industry Associations; Piero Formenti, vice-president of UCINA and president of the European Boating Industry; and Saverio Cecchi, outgoing head auditor at UCINA, and a member of the board of directors of the Fipa Group.
They are all highly qualified candidates, and have all stated that their priority for their term in office would be reuniting all parts of the Italian marine industry. I really hope this happens without delay, so we can compete in an increasingly complex global market. Today, more than ever before, we need to employ a vision that goes beyond the dimension of permanent crisis, which also leads to a lack of rigour in complying with the ethical side of business.
As Italians, we are specialists in producing a series of loopholes, stratagems and strategies, which stimulate our intelligence and ability to analyse the context or situation but make it difficult to jointly manage any ideas for the future.
The background of the three candidates suggests they are the right people to tackle this challenge, and we trust that they will do so with both passion and energy.
(A winning model – the editorial by Franco Michienzi – Barchemagazine.com – Maggio 2019)