May 14, 2024 By Vasia Rigou
Perspective Next Wave: NEXT
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Mind-bending, eye-catching, unforgettable highlights from the 2024 Milan Design Week
By Vasia Rigou May 14, 2024
Published in Perspective

(Above Image: Faye Toogood’s collaboration with Poltrona Frau. Image courtesy of Faye Toogood and Poltrona Frau)

From conceptual installations and breathtaking forms to material innovations and functional solutions, the 2024 Milan Design Week, including Salone del Mobile and satellite events across the city, had something for everyone. Each year at the furniture and design fair, design, architecture, art, and technology intersect to dazzling effect—and this Salone saw record-breaking attendance, with more than 370,000 visitors, a 20 percent increase from 2023. Join us as we explore this year’s highlights; from immersive cinematic environments (Hello, David Lynch!) to striking materials that prioritize sustainability to surprising collaborations, these standouts all embody unique facets of the future of design.

“Interiors by David Lynch. A Thinking Room”

Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet fans, unite! When David Lynch takes on Salone del Mobile, you know you’re in for a treat. Encapsulating the essence of the American filmmaker known for his surreal, dreamlike work, A Thinking Room offered visitors an immersive experience that merged the worlds of cinema, theater, and interior design. Imagine heavy, dramatically illuminated red-velvet drapes framing the entrance to the installation, transitioning to dimly-lit, meditative inner chambers. Curated by Antonia Monda and built by scenographers from the Piccolo Teatro di Milano and architecture firm Lombardini22, the installation aims to invite deep reflection and introspection.

“A Thinking Room” was made up of two identical rooms with ocean-like patterned floors, atop which sat a large wooden chair with seven metal rods extending to the ceiling. What do the chair and rods signify? We can’t say—Lynch fully sketched and designed the installation himself, and unsurprisingly left a few things to viewers’ imagination. But this isn’t his first design rodeo. “I remembered when I was in Rome as artistic director for the Rome Film Festival, I visited David Lynch because I presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award,” Monda told Dezeen. “When I went to visit him he was polishing a desk and I said what are you doing? And he said, ‘I do furniture. I build furniture.’” In fact, Lynch isn’t a newbie to the interior design world—he debuted a furniture collection at Salone del Mobile in 1997. Which means “A Thinking Room” is a homecoming of sorts. Evoking a sense of wonder, the space served as a portal into the inner psyche.

Formafantasma and Cosentino’s Earthic Lab

Within the historic Teatro Gerolamo, design studio Formafantasma unveiled their Earthic Lab installation in collaboration with sustainable surface manufacturer Cosentino. Challenging traditional notions of luxury, the project encouraged deeper reflection on ethical and ecological production processes. Earthic Lab transformed industrial waste into stunning surfaces, using unexpected materials like Cosentino’s manufacturing debris and used cooking oil from the company’s kitchen. The installation also included recycled glass and plastics and marked the launch of a new, research-oriented sub-brand by Cosentino, aimed at investigating how the manufacturer could make its practices more sustainable.

Projects like Earthic Lab push the boundaries of design and spur the next wave of sustainable materials—all while achieving an otherworldly, unforgettable look.

Sabine Marcelis and Paul Cournet: Design Space AlUla

Masterfully curated to provide a taste of al-Ula, the ancient Arabic city, an exhibition from Saudi Arabia’s Design Space AlUla, designer Sabine Marcelis and Dutch architecture studio Cloud turned a Milan library into a massive sandy-hued lounge. At the heart of the space sat a modular sofa by French design studio Hall Haus; ambient sounds played from fabric-covered speakers to enhance the earthy setting. Overhead, a vast cylindrical light fixture emitted soft light that subtly changed colors—its shape was inspired by fixtures in the AlUla space, which were designed to reduce light pollution. The lounge also included sculptural chairs by French designer Leo Orta and lamps by India’s Studio Raw Material, both of which were created during a design residency at AlUla.

Additional elements brought even more visual interest and texture, such as a flexible steel screen by Bahraini Danish, a Bahraini design studio, and a collectible section curated by Samer Yamani showcasing design pieces crafted from AlUla materials, including a couch colored with local dyes. The enveloping installation, which was located in Milan’s historia Brera neighborhood, shone a spotlight on the ongoing creative and architectural developments in AlUla and Saudi Arabia at large.

(Below image: The Installation evokes the desert valley of AlUla in north-western Saudi Arabia is known for its sandstone mountains, fertile oases and ancient cultural heritage. Hall Haus for Design Space AlUla.
Photo courtesy of Design Space AlUla)


Faye Toogood and Poltrona Frau’s ‘Squash’ Collection

Named "Squash" in part for its plush, inviting feel, this armchair is born of a collaboration between British designer Faye Toogood and Italian furniture maker Poltrona Frau. Bold, playful, voluminous, and importantly, extremely cozy, it is crafted from a rigid trestle frame and sculptural, ballooning upholstery. When working on the “Squash” collection—which includes the chair, an ottoman, small table, mirrors, and a rug—Toogood set out to echo the spirit of Poltrona Frau's designs from the early 1970s. This marks the first foray into leather and upholstery for the British artist, whose work spans a range of disciplines, including sculpture, fashion, and furniture. Perhaps the best part: The collection features a fiery red hue, alongside more muted browns and blues. It’s worth mentioning that Toogood also presented her pillowy forms at Rude Arts Club, an intimate exhibition featuring daybeds resembling a cross between mattress stacks and inflatable pool floats and plush rugs featuring abstract depictions of private parts. Rugs were created by CC-Tapis and furniture by Tacchini, based on Toogood’s female-centric designs. “Celebrating female energy and womanhood in design—and acknowledging it—is not something that personally I have done," Toogood told Dezeen. “And I feel it's not something that the design industry has done either.”

LSM and UniFor’s Andromeda Collection

Channeling modern sophistication and functional elegance, the UniFor Andromeda collection, designed in collaboration with LSM Studio, is a sleek vision of timeless, elemental style. Utilizing polished aluminum as its cornerstone, the collection includes dining and coffee tables, a curved leather sofa and a credenza and incorporates glass, travertine, and leather, creating a versatile aesthetic that could complement any setting, from corporate spaces to residential environments. “There was a void for credenzas, pieces that were transparent and floated, and that really complemented the light within the space” Debra Lehman Smith (one part of LSM Studio alongside James McLeish) told Wallpaper.

“It becomes a reflection point, one and the same with its surroundings,” she adds. “Even if the material palette is quite limited, the perception is that you can put them together to create a different form. To me that is the beauty of Andromeda.” Ingeniously photographed at the Teatro Andromeda—an open-air hilltop theater in Sicily offering lush views of the Italian mountainside—ahead of its Milan Design Week debut, the collection achieves a near-perfect harmony between the natural and the man-made.

(Below image: Ingeniously photographed at the Teatro Andromeda, an open-air theater in Sicily, Andromeda stands reminiscent of an ancient theater of sorts achieving harmony between the natural and the man-made. Photo credit: Alberto Strada for UniFor)


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