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Manlio Armellini 1937-2020

ManlioArmelliniManlio Armellini, the former secretary general and ceo of Salone del Mobile di Milano organiser Cosmit, and the man generally created for making the exhibition what it is, died on 16 November. He was 83.

‘With Manlio’s passing, we have lost a friend whose tenacity and skill enabled the Salone del Mobile to achieve the successes recognised the world over. 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. Carrying on along the same path will be the best possible tribute we can pay to an extraordinary man who will be much missed by us all. Ciao Manlio,’ says Claudio Luti, Salone del Mobile.Milano president.

Armellini was a part of the Salone del Mobile since it began in 1961 and had a 40-year involvement with the furniture industry across trade shows, publishing, cultural events and trade associations. He earned national and international awards, prizes, and recognition for the excellent results of the initiatives he organised and championed. It was Armellini who really put the Salone Internazionale del Mobile on the map in 1965, when he expanded the commercial offering by bringing together the key players in the furniture industry. Under his guidance as secretary general, a position he took up in 1974, the show has grown in net exhibition space from 97,000sqm to 222,000sqm, while trade visitor numbers have risen from 67,000 to over 348,000 including more than 210,000 from outside Italy. 

As of 1965, he was also responsible for more than 40 collateral cultural initiatives, which meant that the Salone del Mobile ventured out of the strictly trade fair realm, prestigious as it was, and into the world of artistic and design culture. These collateral events organised in tandem with the Salone saw to it that Italian design became a stylistic, formal and industrial benchmark for the entire furnishing sector. 

In 1987 he received an ADI Compasso d’Oro, ‘for the promotion of Italian design’. 

He was also a journalist, working for leading monthly furniture magazine L’industria del legnoe del Mobile from 1949-2000.

He was also extremely active in industry associations. The chaired the technical consultative committee of the Fiera Milano Foundation, which helped to ensure that the new Rho-Pero fairgrounds took off. He was also a member of the Lombard Region monitoring board for planning the Design Museum in Milan.

In 1994, he was presented with a Certificate of Merit and Gold Medal by the Federlegno trade association for ‘having contributed through the trade fair events to keeping the whole world’s attention focussed on the technological and formal values of the Italian furniture and furnishing sector, and ensuring that these exhibitions were unparalleled showcases for the design and creativity of the Italian industry.’

He was awarded the Tagliacarne Prize for ‘his marketing policy capable of disseminating culture’ by the Italian Association for Marketing Studies in 1998. He received the prize for promoting Italian furniture around the world as part of the Giuseppe Terragni Designer project in 2006. He was largely responsible for Cosmit being assigned the Ambrogino d’Oro Award in 2007, presented to him by Letizia Moratti, mayor of Milan. He was presented with the 2007 La Lombardia Prize for Endeavour by the President of the Lombard region, Roberto Formigoni, in March 2008. 

He was made a Knight of the Grand Cross of Order and Merit of the Italian Republic by the Italian president Giorgio Napoletano in June 2008.