UK Trade and Investment launches Milan mission

UK Trade & Investment is to run its first design trade mission to Milan during the city’s international furniture fair this year.

UK Trade & Investment is to run its first design trade mission to Milan during the city’s international furniture fair this year.

The idea behind the mission is to support UK designers keen to investigate overseas opportunities, as well as to assist exhibitors who may be struggling with costs in the current economic climate, explains Little Dipper founder Christine Losecaat, who is working with UKTI on the trade mission.

‘In light of the current economy, quite a few businesses will be finding the cost of exhibiting prohibitive, but they may still want to go. The trade mission is also aimed at the younger design community that perhaps haven’t been to Milan before – it gives them a safe umbrella to explore a busy city at a busy time, with the help of like-minded people,’ says Losecaat.

How this support will manifest itself, according to Losecaat, depends on the level of participation, but it can range from help in connecting with potential customers to linking with international media.

The mission is open to the wider creative industries in recognition of the breadth of creative talent that comes to Milan, says Losecaat.

‘It’s not just designers going to Milan – it’s anyone in the creative sector looking at future trends. You don’t have to be a designer to be there,’ she points out.

The first overseas British Design Embassy, designed by Paul Smith, will also be hosted at this year’s fair, building on the success of the Design Embassy at last year’s London Design Festival (, 1 October 2008).

Smith is planning to install ‘huge floral curtains’, peppered with a selection of furniture from the Paul Smith antique collection in the opulent Villa Reale space.

The embassy will provide UK visitors with meeting facilities and a networking hub, as well as a concierge service to help them navigate their way through the fair and ensure they attend events appropriate to their interests.

Both the mission and the British Design Embassy are open to UK companies from across the creative industries including interior design, furniture, architecture, music, film, television, advertising, fashion, publishing, video games, new media and performing arts. The trade mission is being made possible by UKTI’s existing commercial team, which has been supporting the British presence in Milan for a number of years. ‘What we’re trying to do is have a more holistic approach to Milan on behalf of UK businesses. Traditionally, it’s been quite fragmented,’ says Losecaat.

The Italian Job

• The Design Embassy will be staged at the prestigious Villa Reale in Via Palestro 16, Milan from 22-26 April

• This year’s Milan furniture fair will feature 2500 exhibitors from 40 countries, with expected visitor numbers of 250 000

• For further information, visit

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