The Food Design Arena designed by Lombardini22.
Photo: salone del mobile

Salone del Mobile Unveils Dazzling Installations for 2024 Edition

Organizers for the sprawling fair tapped creative powerhouses including filmmaker David Lynch and design studio Formafantasma for special projects

Once again, the design world turns its gaze to Milan as the 62nd edition of Salone del Mobile unfolds at Rho Fiera Milano. Of course, this isn’t a run-of-the-mill trade show. The leading furniture fair, in all of its frenzy, is a microcosm of innovation and a platform where trends are not just spotted—they’re born. Through April 21, the cavernous convention halls play host to some 1,950 exhibitors from 35 countries and 185 brands, all showcasing their latest wares and collaborations, many with a special focus on sustainability and state-of-the-art technology.

This year, organizers of the fair tapped into the cultural zeitgeist by commissioning a slate of installations dealing with themes from the global climate crisis to personal introspection, the latter courtesy of famed director David Lynch. It’s also the 25th anniversary of SaloneSatellite, which spotlights emerging designers making their mark.

See below to see what’s new this year. 

Interiors by David Lynch, The Thinking Room. Photo: salone del mobile

1. Interiors by David Lynch, The Thinking Room

David Lynch is one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic directors, creating fever-dream films and television shows that often leave viewers with more questions than answers. Here, working with fair curator Antonio Monda, he has conjured a pair of circular spaces enclosed by red curtains that act as gates to one of the convention halls. Built in collaboration with Piccolo Teatro di Milano, the two identical interiors can only be accessed through a dark corridor that leads to a temple-like area organized around a wooden throne, where visitors are invited to sit and contemplate, supplied with pens and sketch paper, in an act of performance art. Curving walls are studded with various niches that display contemplative images including decaying meat, while a gilded ceiling is affixed with undulating tubes. The immersive space is designed to be experienced in silence. “Even thinking about A Thinking Room is nice to think about. A room conducive to thinking,” said Lynch.

Under the Surface. Photo: Salone del Mobile Milano

2. Under the Surface

Roughly three-quarters of the planet’s freshwater is stored in glaciers. This immersive project, located within the fair’s International Bathroom Exhibition section, evokes such icy polar environments as a way to shine a spotlight on the critical need to conserve those resources, which are increasingly at risk due to climate change. Massive, looming clusters of faux icebergs are illuminated in blue light and carved out with various cubbies that hold screens that flash facts about water provided by the World Bank and serve as urgent warnings for action. The potent design is a collaboration between research and design studio Accurat; Design Group Italia; and Emiliano Ponzi, founder of Brooklyn research hub Salotto.

Deformation Under Pressure by Studio Ololoo won first place at the SaloneSatellite Award 2024. Photo: Studio Ololoo

Egoundesign, a Bologna studio, won third prize in the SaloneSatellite Award 2024 with its Voronoi series. Photo: EGOUNDESIGN

3. SaloneSatellite

The fair’s signature event spotlighting emerging talents, SaloneSatellite, is marking its 25th anniversary this year. Featuring more than a hundred designers from around the world—all under 35 years old—the section also handed out a juried award honoring innovation, tradition, and sustainability. The winner was Chinese practice Studio Ololoo, founded by Zhen Bian and Jaco Qian, who presented elongated lamps that look like delicate glass but are actually created using inflated PVC with aluminum bands. (They also bend.) The third-place award, meanwhile, went to Bologna-based studio Egoundesign, which showcased its Voronoi project of stackable cups made using 3D-printed pure brass. Also of note, SaloneSatellite is also celebrating the milestone anniversary with a must-see exhibition at the Triennale di Milano in the city proper that features archival designs as well as current ones made by past program participants.

John Pawson in conversation with Deyan Sudjic. Photo: Salone del Mobile Milano

4. Drafting Futures, Conversations About Next Perspectives

Leading architects including Francis Kéré to John Pawson drew big crowds for conversations taking place as part of Drafting Futures. Conversations About Next Perspectives. The open pavilion, designed by Milan and Rotterdam–based studio Formafantasma, repurposes the seating from last year’s edition with playful green upholstery and includes a ring of wooden bookshelves stocked with titled curated by the roster of speakers as part of a new program called the Salone del Mobile Library project. Among the other luminaries featured in the schedule—which includes conversations and panels—are Jeanne Gang, Maria Porro, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Adam D. Tihany, and Maria Cristina Didero.

The Food Design Arena designed by Lombardini22. Photo: Salone del Mobile

5. All You Have Ever Wanted to Know About Food Design in Six Performances

For Salone’s biannual EuroCucina exhibition, six food-focused publications were invited to stage a new series of performances that bring together culinary creatives from around the globe in a flowing, curtained space created by Lombardini22 studio designed for maximum flexibility. The outlets—Family Style, Linseed Journal, The Preserve Journal, Magazine F, Farta, and L’Integrale—are hosting a series of tastings and other experiences that relate to food’s impact on design. One example is Family Style magazine’s event with James Beard Award–winning chef Sophia Roe and Dutch design firm Studio DRIFT that will probe the way foodstuffs can be “objects of affection.”

Cover: The Food Design Arena designed by Lombardini22.
Photo: salone del mobile


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