W*:You say ZonaTortona is going to expand into new areas, can you explain a bit more about this?
MR: 2009 sees the launch of ZonaRomana, an area east of ZonaTortona, which will have two new venues for exhibitors to show their wares. The first is the Franco Parenti theatre - a beautiful recently rennovated venue made up of a large central space and several auditoriums that can be cleared. Secondly is Spazio Botta - a typical Milanese townhouse complete with an inner courtyard that has 12 contemporary style lofts.
We will organize some kind of ‘bridge’ to take people between the Tortona and Romana, be it a mini-bus, taxis or bicycles.

W*: How do you intend to keep the balance between established global brands that pay good money and promoting emerging, cutting edge designers for which ZonaTortona has become famous?
MR: The balance is very hard but we are very strict about keeping what I call the DNA of ZonaTortona. Sometimes we do turn companies away that don’t fit with our message, not so much based on aesthetic judgments but more in terms of values, creativity, development etc. Equally we do try and promote younger companies. That’s Design is in its 3rd edition and this year will promote not only design students but also freelance designers.

W*: Do you see yourself as a Trade Fair?
MR: No, certainly not. We are an open-air event. Yes, people register and we monitor our visitors but it’s open to anyone.

W*: Apart from accessability, how else is ZonaTortona different to a trade fair?
MR: A trade fair does one thing: provide exhibitors with a venue. We communicate in several different ways. We work like lasagne, we offer one complete package but with several different layers like organize parties, event media, brand launches etc.

W*: Who are your new exhibitors this year?
MR: We’re still booking of course, but along with the return of Cappellini, IKEA are showing with us. Plus lots of curated ‘one-country collections’ such as Svensk Form, Portugese design, a show of Dutch Design and a group show from Taiwan. We also have a technological project this year that Toshiba are doing, plus non-furniture design companies like Lavazza and a packaging company are using our event to promote their design.

W*: Do you think ZonaTortona is in competition with Cosmit, the organizers of the Feria?
MR: We are definitely not in competition - we are complimentary. We initially grew out of Cosmit but now I think the visitor dedicates their time to both events. Plus Cosmit is very different from us: they are a traditional exhibition, we present a lifestyle. Cosmit is purely about furniture, we are about product design in a more general sense.