Nearly 344,000 design aficionados — both professionals and enthusiasts — swarmed northern Italy for the 56th edition of Salone del Mobile last week. But as anyone who’s ever followed or attended this annual fair knows, it’s not just about the exciting product debuts — it’s also about the special installations, exhibits and experiential programs that take over sites all around the city of Milan during what’s collectively called Milan Design Week. In the first of our multi-part series recapping Salone, we take a look at 10 stunning installations. (Stay tuned for even more installations, off-site event snapshots and best products and displays spotted at Salone, Euroluce and around the design districts.)
Spanish designer Jaime Hayon brought his whimsical touch to Milan for quartz manufacturer Caesarstone. Using the manufacturer’s products in combination with metals and stained glass, he created the exhibit “Stone Age Folk” within Palazzo Serbelloni, complete with clown faces, tribal masks, furniture, light fixtures and even a functioning playground carousel.
DuPont Corian’s “Corian Cabana Club” took over Padiglione Visconte in the Tortona district, presenting a “village” of cabanas conceived by different designers. From a Chinese meditation room to a Moroccan kitchen, the cabanas utilized the solid surfacing material in unexpected ways, including as siding or fretwork on the cabana exteriors. Even the gateway to the exhibit was constructed with trellises made of Corian.
Architect Giovanni Maria Filendeu designed the installation “Fare Luce” (Shedding Light) within the lighting brand’s showroom in the Brera district. Drawing on his own childhood memories and special moments, he devised six different settings that correspond with different forms of light, resulting in unique light and shadow play.
Like a lovechild of science fiction and surrealism, Planet Gufram at Mediateca Santa Teresa presented quirkily cool products designed for the furniture brand from past to present including Snarkitecture’s Broken Mirror (2017) and Tullio Regge’s Detecma (1967). Creative collective Italian Radical Design conceived and arranged the other-worldly exhibition.
This year’s new design district Ventura Centrale saw a number of special installations for Milan Design Week, one of which was the striking “Time Machine” by British designer Lee Broom. In celebration of his eponymous brand’s 10th anniversary, he curated his own furniture, lighting and accessories to date within the dramatic backdrop of a disused vault in Milano Centrale Stazione. He also used this installation to unveil a new limited edition Carrara marble grandfather clock.
The beloved car brand tapped New York architects SO-IL to design its MINI LIVING installation at this year’s Milan Design Week. Titled “MINI LIVING – Breathe,” it presented concepts that demonstrate how architecture can react to future challenges of tighter living spaces in urban regions. Designed for up to three dwellers within a footprint of 5 meters wide by 10 meters tall, the volume was composed of a transparent, flexible skin that brought in natural light and air, a roof garden whose plants improved air quality while also collecting rainwater for reuse and a number of recyclable materials.
Though a smaller installation, “SOS – Save Our Souls” made a big statement within the Brera district’s Moroso showroom. Young artist Achilleas Souras assembled igloo-like shelters using actual life jackets discarded by refugees on the shores of Lesbos Island.
Japanese design studio Nendo and its founder Oki Sato always manage to draw crowds to their Milan installations, which seamlessly marry minimalist sophistication with playful character, and 2017 was no different. At the Jil Sander showroom right off the piazza of Sforza Castle, "Nendo: Invisible Outlines" offered up installations ranging from the nature-evoking Jellyfish Vase to the ethereal 80 Sheets of Mountains.
A three-part experiential exhibition at the Brera Art Academy, Panasonic Electronics Meets Crafts dazzled show-goers with everything from an audio/visual presentation to a display inviting visitors to use engage other senses such as touch.
Tom Dixon’s “Multiplex: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” took over the iconic Cinema and Galleria on Via Manzoni to showcase classic as well as new designs by Dixon, fresh ideas and collaborations including with IKEA.