After yesterday’s late start, my first complete Day 1 of Milan Design Week. It is actually incredible how much can you fit in one day. How many photographs, how many conversations, how many beautiful objects and how many cappuccinos you can handle in less than 24 hours. Exhausted, but extremely excited, my head still buzzing thinking about all I´ve seen today.
Today, it was the compulsory visit to Euroluce. I´m here to see lighting, right? Then that’s the not-to-be-missed event of the week. Perhaps not so complete, not so deep as other fairs like Light and Building, but definitely the most inspiring of them all. You can see how the big brands break out the heavy duty PR weaponry and compete over who has the most eye-catching stand. And, I must admit, the Philips booth was amongst the ones that got the most attention.
In fact, it was not a booth. This time the team had done a great job and went beyond the stand-type of display and made it into a storytelling exercise. The theme, of course, "See what light can do for your home." And what´s the best way to get this message across? To make a little "neighbourhood" of homes, each of which was holding a PCL collection. White iconic little houses, nicely placed along a central pathway, even with small "green" outdoor areas in between, created a cozy feeling that somehow reminded me of a quiet, American suburb. And in the houses, every range was contextualized and framed - photographs of happy users, insights stuck in vinyl in the walls, architectural tricks to enhance the product display. MyBathroom, Ledino, Arcitone, LivingAmbiance, MyGarden: they were all there, welcoming visitors, as familiar as if they were at your own place.
And it worked. There was almost as busy as the Flos stand, which is known as the coolest place to be in Euroluce. Many curious visitors decided to hang out around the space, peeking inside the little hubs, walking around, stopping to chat, just as in a real neighbourhood. People would actually choose it to rest, to chat, to look at. Many spent a long time looking at every product, playing with every luminaire, getting to know the details. Helped by the welcoming crew there, I bet lots of people discovered what Philips really does in lighting for the first time, if I´m to judge by some of the comments I overheard. Not only customers, but also a great deal of passers-by and inspiration-seekers were seen there.
As I said, it really told a story, a story about how Philips as a brand wants to be for customers. I am very confident next year’s efforts´ will dive deeper into creating a touching space that connects with people´s emotions, a space that shows the great emotional power of light when it comes to enriching life, that conveys the ability of Philips to master light in a way that appeals deeply to our senses and emotions. More and more, the Milan space will become a statement of the relationship Philips wants to establish with its customers, a welcoming space that shows leadership and vision.
It might still be far away from the Milan standard of glamorous, adventurous showrooms of other brands like Flos (once again, number one on those matters, both for its booth in Euroluce and its more grandiose installation at Zona Tortona). Blogs and magazines might not yet be flooded with Philips’ pictures, as they are now about the Toshiba LED installation. It might not generate as much publicity as the Verbatim OLED sculptural space (who knew before Milan 2011 that Verbatim did more than floppy disks and CDs?). But it is definitely a giant step towards a greater prominence in Milan, and it does a very good job at what Philips does best: empathizing with real people and their real needs.
There were a lot more things I captured today though: I did scan the whole of Euroluce, spotting trends in technology, its uses and its materials, and even managed to have a quick peek at the trendiest area of Zona Tortona. But that will come soon: today I still need to rest to prepare for one more day of inspiration, energy and good vibes.