For many years, the Sasmil exhibition for accessories and semi-finished products for the furniture and interiors industry has been held alongside the Xylexpo (formerly Interbimall) exhibition for woodworking machinery. The venue has always been Milan and the date mid- to late-May.

However, whilst the two exhibitions had some common ground in terms of the visitors, the market has evolved to a point where Sasmil felt the need to be a show appealing to design, rather than manufacturing, personnel.

With the world-famous Salone Internazionale del Mobile (furniture exhibition) being held in Milan in April each year, there was always a case for having a show for furniture and interior designers ahead of that event. Also, the increasingly successful ZOW annual show, held in northern Germany and targeting precisely those designers, is held in February…..

In breaking its ties with Xylexpo, Sasmil has formed a new ‘partnership’ with a major architectural show. The MADEexpo (Milan Architecture, Design, Building) was also celebrating its inaugural event in Milan this year, growing out of an established event, Saie Due, held previously in Bologna in March.

The new Rho fairgounds in Milan (venue for Xylexpo/Sasmil for the first time in 2006) hosted both MADE and Sasmil from February 5 to 9 this year. MADE occupied 100,000m2 and featured 1,914 exhibitors from all areas of the architectural field. Sasmil occupied one hall (8,400m2) and had around 100 exhibitors. It is planned that both will be held annually here in future.

“Sasmil has been held for the first time in February because it is necessary to speak to the designers so they have time to look at new materials before the Salon del Mobile,” said press liaison officer for Sasmil, Flavio Maestrini. “This is really a pre-edition [of the new Sasmil] and next year we will have maybe 500 exhibitors – we have had a lot of interest.”

The show was certainly different in exhibitor representation this time to previous years when it was held alongside Xylexpo. There were no decor suppliers represented at all and only one panel manufacturer. Go back a few years and panel makers like Italian giant Saviola had a stand which was itself the size of a small exhibition, there were several other panel manufacturers exhibiting, and decor printers Schattdecor and Süddekor for example, would have been present. Perhaps next year?

The one panel manufacturer enthusiastically supporting both events was Italian-headquartered Fantoni Group, which had large stands at both Sasmil and MADE.

In Sasmil, the company exhibited two new products – ultra-thin Lesonit in 1.8-2.5mm high-density fibreboard (HDF), produced at Fantoni’s factory in Slovenia. This range was launched at the end of 2007 and is aimed at the cabinet making industry.

The second new product is Novolegno MDF which is mesh-textured on one face, giving it the appearance of the back surface of wet-process hardboard. This is apparently demanded by the upholstered furniture industry for its grip.

In MADE, Fantoni found a lot more visitors to its stand and has exhibited for some years at Saie Due in Bologna.

Fantoni’s PATT srl division was the main one represented here, by two different divisions: acoustic panels (AP) such as AP-Topakustic and Stillwall for ceilings and walls; and flooring.

PattWall and BrickWall modular wall and cladding systems were also on show, as was Climacustic, a system of radiant panels to heat, cool and improve the acoustics. Metalwood, a powder-coatable MDF panel, was also featured.

Another panel maker exhibiting at MADE was Netherlands-based Trespa. This company manufactures external and internal wall cladding in a wood fibre/exterior resin-based process with a variety of extremely durable surface finishes.

A new product from them, introduced last year, was a system of curved façade panels which were exhibited tiered, with led backlighting that cycled through a range of colours.

Trespa also offers a wide range of colours and textures in flat panels which can be supplied in a variety of sizes.

Back in Sasmil, Gruppo PMT, located near Pordenone in eastern Italy, uses thin MDF and particleboard to make honeycomb-cored panels for cabinetry or room doors, faced with veneer, foil, CPL (continuous pressure laminate) or PVC.

Compensati Curvati of Milan offered a range of curved plywood panels for a variety of end-uses.

Another Italian company, Rotel Legno, makes various panel edgings, which it also offers weaved into decorative panels.

Attimec of Treviso, near Venice, offered a range of kitchen cabinet doors, some with an interesting use of OSB as the centre panel, painted or stained.

Spotti Tranciati of Milan exhibited a range of real wood veneers which it imports or produces itself from logs (with slicing accounting for 80% of turnover).

Another Italian company, CLEAF of Milan, offers melamine faced particleboard panels and sister company Caspani provides coordinated edgings.

The company has recently produced doorskins for honeycomb construction and introduced a very flexible wood veneer which can wrap profiles in the same way as a paper surface.

Sasmil’s organiser, Cosmit, has certainly taken a risk in moving this long-established biennial event, traditionally held in May, to a new date in February. Not only that, but it has divorced Sasmil from its traditional stable-mate Xylexpo.

However, the timing is frankly a no-brainer in terms of appropriateness to the market the show aims to approach and the ‘fit’ with MADE expo is obvious and far more logical in today’s market than being linked to what is essentially a machinery show.

It is also brave to attempt to move to an annual frequency and it remains to be seen if exhibitors will support that.

Sasmil could not remain as it was. It would seem that this show will either grow and prosper alongside MADE expo, be absorbed into MADE as part of that whole architectural concept, or it will disappear without trace. Only time and the response of the potential exhibitors to the new concept will tell.