Showing posts with label economic development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economic development. Show all posts

Monday, May 29, 2023

Learning from Milano Design Week

Piggyback economics extend the benefit of an event beyond the fair grounds.

It is not known how seriously Walmart CEO Doug McMillon took former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi’s recommendation to go to Milan for the Design Week, but I did. The opportunity finally presented itself after Italy lifted Covid travel restrictions. It was everything that Ms. Nooyi talked about – an entire city celebrating design. However, what was eye-opening was the way the common Milanese seem to embrace the Design Week.

The cab driver speeding at 190 kmph from the airport to the hotel wasn’t showing off his motor racing skills. He merely wanted to rush back to pick up as many arriving Design Week visitors as possible. The hotel, whose lobby had registration desks for hospitality suites and private events by furniture brands, offered free shuttles to locations in the city within walking distance of the various venues. From the art installation covering an entire building, an entire district designated for design, several pop-up studios and displays, the high-end over-the-top launch event of a one-armed chair by an iconic fashion brand, to the very basic shadow art by a small wallpaper company, it was noteworthy how cars, fashion apparel, fashion accessories and luxury goods had created their own displays, sometimes co-located, filling the city with design surprises at almost every turn.

Milano Design Week seems to have found a way to align itself with the economic interests of many business enterprises in the city beyond the furniture industry. The average person seemed to have caught the design fever and leveraged the event to derive personal value, meaning and pride. This manifests as the common person on the street cheerfully giving directions to nearby design event venues, and store owners and restaurateurs noticeably appreciative of the additional traffic from the Design Week. I believe that businesses can register themselves for a spot in the Design Week’s online directory. Such an extension of an anchor brand to bring engagement at the grassroots level reminds me of TED Talks and its satellite TEDx events.

Cities can learn from the Milano Design Week. With infrastructure such as an international airport, several indoor and outdoor waterfront venues, research institutions and Universities, comfort with hosting major events and housing visitors at scale, it is perfectly conceivable that a city like Tampa can emulate the success of the Milano Design Week.

The canvas and the palette are ready, but not the subject. Identify a human endeavor which touches almost every person and every industry, centered on which, the city can brand a week-long celebration, such as Engineering Week or Automation Week. What Davos has done with the Economic Forum, with consistency and clarity of purpose, the branded event-week can put a city on the world map of industry, help reap compounding returns and make it a magnet for capital – both, human capital, and financial capital.