It's been almost three weeks since I returned home from Milan and the culmination of the launch of Coalesse in Europe. It was an exhilarating week for many reasons, but probably the highlight for me was the excellence with which our team executed. We have super-sized aspirations for the brand. Participating in Milan has been a goal since the day we envisioned Coalesse.
Over 300,000 visitors descend on Milan for the furniture fair. Most exhibitors are at the Salone del Mobile which is on the outskirts of Milan. The city, however, is alive with the spirit of the show and events and displays are found throughout the city. If Silicon Valley is the center of the tech world, Milano is the center of design and fashion. It was in this context (at the Salone) that Coalesse participated. Our stand was fresh and expressed our California spirit. But it truly came to life on late Wednesday morning when both Jean Marie Massaud and Patricia Urquiola arrived at our stand at the same time. For those not familiar with these amazing human beings, they are two of the finest designer/architects in the world. More importantly, they are amazing people who want to make the world a better place to live and who are hardly impressed with their own celebrity. When they approached our stand, they were trailed by an entourage of media, filming them and interviewing them almost before they set foot in our space. I have compared the scene for friends and family to being at a concert and having Mick Jagger and Madonna show up at the same time. I can't say enough about JM and Patricia other than to say we feel very fortunate to know and work with them. They are perfectionists and they make us better. They are also fun!
For me, time in Milano was not purely just about the brand. It had a personal side too. My dad's family heralds from a small town near the Malpensa airport named Buscate. Just 40 kilometers or so northwest of Milan. I have had the good fortune of visiting Buscate and walking the cemetery while learning about my ancestry. I'm not really a new age type of guy, but whenever I am in Italy and especially when I have been in Milan or Como, I feel a sense of calm, of being at home. I am fond of retelling a story about a trip my parents took us on in 1978 when we first visited Milan and Buscate. My mom desperately wanted to see an opera at Teatro alla Scala, the world famous opera house in Milan. As it turned out, La Traviata was playing with a world class tenor, Sherrill Milnes, in the lead. We scrambled over to the ticket window and managed to acquire only three tickets. So my mom, sister and I went to La Scala that night. The punchline is that I have never been to an opera since. That night I decided what I had seen was so remarkable and pure – hey, if you're going to go to the opera, how is it ever going to be any better than La Traviata at La Scala?
Now, after this most recent visit to Milano, I have precious new memories. Participating in the fair was a highlight for sure. Regaling my team with stories like the one above was special. And without a doubt, the late evening at the jazz club in the center of the city with seven of the best people I know, hoisting a glass (or two) in a victory celebration was the icing on the cake.
Can't wait for next April to get here.