Alexander Lundin: the Italian magic of Proposte
His name is Alexander Lundin and he is a large furnishing textiles buyer. Truly a large buyer, because his firm, Unico Interiors Decoration, that in June will celebrate its 30th anniversary, in addition to being an important furniture manufacturer and to having an operational structure capable of furnishing any home, contract or hospitality interior, is also the leading importer of Italian furniture and textiles in that entire ‘sub-continent’ that includes Russia and the countries bordering the area under the influence of the former Soviet Union. In addition to all this, in the 2020-2021 period, Alexander Lundin will stand as president of the Russian Association of Furniture Complements and Textiles, the country’s major commercial institution of that sector. In short, talking to him is tantamount to talking with the person who runs the interior decoration firm with the largest geographical area of activity of the world between Europe and Asia. We couldn’t miss the chance to ask his opinion about the trade fairs system, about how the Eastern European market – that is so important for our companies – moves, and which are the trends he sees rising in the short term.
Let us begin straight away by saying that our interviewee is the absolute representative of the infinite love Russians have for Italian design and interior decoration. Our production has a noticeable competitive edge but, beware – Lundin warns us – that, for this reason, Made in Italy is constantly under pressure to prove it is one step ahead of the others, without ever leaving the sphere of excellence. This applies to the products and collections as well as to fairs. Lundin visits a large number of events all over the world, but the Cernobbio appointment cannot be missed because Proposte brings together only the top-end collections and constructs the yearly offer of textile manufacturing excellencies. And more. Our interviewee confirmed that he has much appreciated the choice of moving the Fair’s date up close to the Salone del Mobile because this has allowed him to join the visits to the two fairs he is most interested in, and that of better placing the date of the event because in May starts the busiest period for the furniture and interior decoration market.
But what Lundin has defined as ‘the Italian magic of Proposte’ today is suffering from the speeding up of a market that has lost the cadence typical of a decade ago. In the first ten years of 2000, in fact, once a collection had been created one had the certainty of having at least six months of breathing space and originality. Today all this has changed, and therefore the Italian event is under even greater pressure to protect its value and its choice of being the exclusive gathering of the elite of the world’s textile manufacturers. It would be suicidal to change this.
In view of the dominating theme of the German fair, it seems mandatory to touch upon the ‘sustainability’ issue. Lundin explains that in this regard the Russian market is still slightly behind. In Russia there is little awareness of the issue and therefore demand is as yet rather low, but it is a topic that is being brought forward in a pressing manner and therefore, he thinks, it will quickly gain visibility and interest.
As regards the most popular style trends in his area of business, our guest explains that their scope of activity is so wide that it becomes difficult to identify a specific trend. Aesthetic preferences radically change from the large private villa to the international hotel. Certainly, the Russian public clearly prefers the classical themes and the important and traditional textile decoration, while in the mobile and Contract segments the choices are ‘quieter’ and more international: soft and warm single-colour velvets and high-value linings such as nubuck leathers and the entire textile world that is centered around the definition of ‘Alcantara’. Obviously, a lot of this depends on the price range we are talking about. Today the Russian public is layered too. This means one must be able to offer different price alternatives because, if in the past only large financial resources allowed clients to approach a more Western taste in upholstery – especially the Italian style -, nowadays even the less wealthy consumers ask for valid alternatives. In short, people are the same the world over, although Lundin at heart remains attached to Italian excellence and exclusivity … and to “the magic of Proposte”.