The Man Behind the Past 40 Years of Salone del Mobile Dies at 83

Manlio Armellini made Salone del Mobile a world renowned trade show, and, in doing so, championed the international success of Italian design in the furniture industry.

Manlio Armellini, secretary general and longtime CEO of Cosmit (Comitato Organizzatore del Salone del Mobile Italiano) passed away on Nov. 16. At the helm of the company that organizes Salone del Mobile, Milan’s annual furniture fair, Armellini played an essential role in its evolution and countless other initiatives during his four decades in the furniture industry.

Born in Porto San Giorgio, Italy, in 1937, Armellini got his start at FederlegnoArredo, an organization that brings together wood manufacturers and furniture companies. Shortly after, he helped develop and execute the first-ever Salone del Mobile in 1961. During his tenure, he singlehandedly expanded the fair’s commercial offerings and cultural initiatives to worldwide acclimation, solidifying the role of Italian design in the furnishing sector. Armellini’s efforts later led to an ADI Compasso d’Oro award for the promotion of Italian design in 1987. Under his council as secretary general, Salone del Mobile grew its exhibition space from 105,000 to 239,000 square feet, while increasing the number of visitors from 67,000 to 348,000, with more than 210,000 attending from outside of Italy.

“With Manlio’s passing, we’ve lost a friend whose tenacity and skill enabled the Salone del Mobile to achieve the successes recognized the world over,” Claudio Luti, president of the Salone del Mobile, said in a statement. “Along with the entrepreneurs, he oversaw and handled the evolution of what was to become the leading international event, and not just for design. He initiated cultural projects that rubbed off on the city of Milan, he was behind and believed in the SaloneSatellite project, and took on board the many changes that occurred over time, unfailingly coming up with solutions and innovations to safeguard and bolster the Salone brand, which was also his home and his life, with his wife Armida by his side.”

Iin 1961, Cosmit, the organizing committee of the Salone del Mobile, was founded and in the autumn of that year the first Salone del Mobile was held in Milan.
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