Organised by Edi.Cer.SpA, and promoted by Confindustria Ceramica in collaboration with BolognaFiere, Cersaie has once again confirmed its world leadership position in the field of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishing trade fairs, after selling out all the floor space in the Bologna exhibition centre five months before the event (965 exhibitors from 31 countries, including 265 non-Italian companies).
The show’s importance was further underscored by the number of visitors. The number of ‘actual admissions’ to the 2011 event was 113 165, up 0.8% from last year’s figure of 112 292. This figure, which is the most widely used by leading trade fair events, counts the number of visitors actually present inside the exhibition centre and includes re-entries on subsequent days.
In detail, the number of international attendees rose from 43 939 to 45 616 (+3,8%) while numbers of paying visitors increased by 5% to 2 714. The figure for Italian attendees dropped by almost 900 (-1,4%) to 64 132. Cersaie also confirmed its international appeal, with non-Italian visitors now accounting for 40% of the total attendance.
Another important figure is that of attendance considering first entries only, which at Cersaie 2011 totalled 81 552. This figure, which shows a small 2% reduction compared to last year’s 83 286 attendees, confirms an increase in numbers of international attendees (from 24 960 to 25 155; +0,8%) and a fall in numbers of Italians (from 58 326 to 56 397; -3,3%), due to the well-known difficulties in the domestic building sector.
A total of 703 journalists took part in this 29th edition of the show, including 248 from outside Italy (35,3% of the total), and it is worth noting that Marlene E van Rooyen, editor of FLOORS’ sister magazine WALLS & ROOFS in Africa, received the Ceramics of Italy Journalism Award at the Cersaie International Press Conference in recognition of the best article published about Cersaie and the Italian ceramic tile industry entitled International trends at the 2010 tile exhibition.
The various conferences and symposia in the third edition of Cersaie’s cultural programme Building Dwelling Thinking were especially well attended by architects, designers and students. Almost a thousand people attended the keynote lecture by Kazuyo Sejima and the “lesson in reverse” given by Alessandro Mendini, which included a particularly strong student presence.
The Architecture Gallery was also packed out for the meetings with Giorgio Bianchi from Renzo Piano Building Workshop on New York architecture, with Cameron Sinclair on the initiatives of Architecture for Humanity, with Kengo Kuma on projects in Japan and worldwide, and with Patricia Urquiola on her vision of design.
The exhibitions Ceramics of Italy: Le Metamorfosi in external area 48 and Cersaie Downtown located in three squares in the centre of Bologna also attracted strong attendance.
If you missed the 2011 event, diarise the next, which will be held in Bologna from 25 to 29 September 2012.
The success of the 2011 event was tempered somewhat by the welcoming and keynote speeches which all expressed some concern over the parlous state of the Euro and its effect on the Italian ceramics industry, together with oblique references to the impact of Chinese ceramic tiles on the international market.
In his welcoming address, BolognaFiere chairman Duccio Campagnoli said, “At a time of great concern for the future of our country, the show provides an opportunity to explore Italy’s new ethical approach to building – an approach that combines rigour, efficiency and quality.”
This was endorsed by the president of Regione Emilia-Romagna, Vasco Errani, who added, “Our region’s ceramic cluster has demonstrated that it is possible to overcome the challenge of competition. We are striving to act as a growth engine for Italy and to relaunch our country at an international level. The country must step up a gear, both for its future and in the general interest of the community. We must restore Italy’s credibility at a world level in the hope that we will be able to report positive results in the global market when we meet here again in a year’s time.”
The welcoming remarks were followed by the economic conference Living with an evolving market, moderated by the editor of Sole 24 Ore, Roberto Napoletano. “The ceramic industry has a turnover of 4,7 billion euro,” he said. “Our presence here testifies to the vitality of our country’s economy, which has the strength to react to the current situation. But now we risk paying an even higher price for a crisis that was not of our own making. Not only have we become a country for sale, there is also a lack of buyers.”
Confindustria Ceramica chairman Franco Manfredini believes that the phenomenon of globalisation lies at the centre of the evolution of the market. “This process has led to the emergence of economies that until just a few years ago were considered third world countries but are now the powerhouse of the global economy. The bar of competition is being raised and we must improve our performance. But we need rules that are the same for everyone and that are respected by everyone.”
In this context, Manfredini believes that European unity is a necessary process together with the evolution of markets. “Europe is the point of reference for companies and is vital if we are to be competitive at a world level.”
Along with Europe, Manfredini also reaffirmed his support for the euro. “All member countries must recognise that it needs to be supported and defended as an essential platform for our companies and member states.”
In painting an even gloomier picture, economist Jacques Attali believes that rules are key to the future of the market. “I don’t believe that the crisis is over. In reality we are on the edge of the abyss, just a step away from tumbling over the edge,” he began.
“Although this is a time of potentially strong growth, there can be no sustainable market without laws and without order. What is the sense of globalisation without the globalisation of laws? This was how the crisis began in the first place. Putting off the problem while waiting for a solution to turn up has pushed up the national debt. Now too, all we are doing is waiting.”
“Italy risks following in the footsteps of Greece if measures are not implemented over the next few months. And France and the rest of Europe will be next,” he continued. “Europe will not survive without a federal budget, and if a European state is not created the Euro will vanish together with the Single market within 10 years.”
In her concluding address, Confindustria president Emma Marcegaglia also commented on Italy’s current economic situation. “What is happening to the country is unacceptable,” she declared. “Ours is a serious country with an important manufacturing fabric, with sectors and niches such as the ceramic industry where Italian entrepreneurs are leaders.”
“We have entrepreneurs who conquer the world and keep the country afloat. We have a unique work culture. This means that Italy can pull through. For weeks now I have been constantly saying that time has run out. The necessary measures must be adopted, even if they are unpopular, or the Government must accept the consequences. As Confindustria we will continue to speak the truth with a firm, authoritative and independent voice.”