There are three things you can always count on if you are lucky enough to attend Vitrum, the Italian glass show in Milan, Italy: high style, great food and new product introductions, especially machinery.
This year's event lived up to all three. Everything from the decorative entrance displays fashioned of glass chips and plantings, to the people (business suits, please!) conveyed an elegance most trade shows don't even try to approach. Milan is, after all, a leading fashion capital of the world.
As for the food, my taste buds and their memories attest that Vitrum 2011 was the all-time best show I've ever attended in 20-plus years, thanks to the first annual Vitrum Gourmet Festival. Usually, I shed a pound or two making trade show rounds, too busy for anything but a granola bar on the run. This show was different; make that Michelin- star-chef-spectacularly-different. Four prominent Italian chefs each prepared a multi-course feast for each of the four days. A special and very elegant "restaurant" was set up in Hall 22 with white linen tables surrounding a glass art showcase and a full-wall screen projection of the chefs and their edible artworks.
Right. So now I come to the third and most crucial item you can count on: new product introductions.
Now in its 17th year, the GIMAV-sponsored Vitrum is renown for being the venue where Italian exhibitors introduce truly new products. Call it, orgoglio, the Italian word for pride. Not surprisingly, most of the other exhibitors from around the world follow suit.
New product introductions are the core of any trade show, but these lean days, it's so much more impressive when you see it first-hand. The buzz and energy when you walk into a stand and start talking to the salespeople and technicians who want to show you what they have is jet-lag dissolving. It even helps you refocus when you're waiting for the espresso shot to kick in after the three-course lunch (with wine, no less). It's a fine thing that Vitrum and GlassBuild America are marketing partners. I'm proud to note, too, that NGA's print and electronic publications are highly regarded in a worldwide marketplace crowded by so many industry magazines.
So, if you missed Vitrum this year, I strongly encourage you not to make the mistake in Fall 2013. I'll be marking my calendar as soon as the dates are set.
Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at email@example.com.