What our design editor loved most at Milan Design Week 2024


installations at Milan Design Week

The droves were out in full force at the Super Bowl event of design: Milan Design Week. Showrooms and installations around the city for Fuorisalone and the 62nd edition of Salone del Mobile drew over 300,000 worldwide visitors this year. The fair alone saw more than 360,000 people in attendance—a 17 percent increase from the previous year.

Amidst the extravaganza of things to see—from David Lynch’s highly anticipated Salone debut to a number of lectures held at the perpetually in-progress center for architecture and design, Dropcity—a circular economy and material research was an inescapable theme. It felt particularly apt as the week kicked off with abnormally high temperatures for April in Milan at 80 degrees Fahrenheit and poor air quality due to pollution. Some of the highlights from the city proved to be not just visually striking but urgent ways to redesign waste at-scale.

mushroom-shaped furniture
The Alder Collection includes mushroom-shaped stools, side tables, and lounge tables (Nicklas Hemming)

Alder Collection by Patricia Urquiola for Mater

Danish design brand Mater has patented a biodegradable material and technology, Matek, that turns waste into moldable raw material. Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola has used this material to create the Alder Collection: tree-like lounge tables, side tables, and stools. Some are made with a blend of coffee waste and biodegradable plastic, while others are made from wood fibers and biodegradable plastic. Their organic shape and form help visually tie the design back to nature and material technology.

wood staircase
Flaxwood is a natural architectural tile derived from linseed oil (Federico Ciamei)

Flaxwood by Dzek and Christien Meindertsma

Frederick Walton pioneered linoleum in 1860, where it has gone on to be mass produced through a composition of 97 percent natural raw materials. London-based Dzek, a studio producing slow architectural materials, and designer Christien Meindertsma, who has for the past 16 years studied flax, saw an opportunity to intervene in this process by creating Flaxwood, a natural architectural tile derived from linseed oil. The duo presented the beauty and performance of the new material through an exhibition designed by Arquitectura-G.

red couch and green table for Milan Design Week
Roche Bobois partnered with designer Jiang Qiong Er on a bamboo-inspired collection (Stevens Fremont)

Bamboo Mood Collection by Jiang Qiong Er and Roche Bobois

Chinese designer Jiang Qiong Er’s bamboo-inspired furniture collection offered a calm respite from the hustle and bustle of Fuorisalone. Installed in Roche Bobois’s showroom, the work created a meditation den that takes on both the sculptural and cultural significance of the source material. Coral and green hues complement Bamboo Mood’s seating, console tables, side and coffee tables, rugs, and screens.

vases on display on concrete plinth at Milan Design Week
Vases and lamps made from post-consumer scrap were designed by Vases by Inga Sempé, Shane Schneck, and Max Lamb (Einar Aslaksen)

100R by Hydro

Leading Norwegian aluminum and renewable energy company Hydro presented the installation 100R, under the direction of Lars Beller Fjetland. The showing revolves around Hydro CIRCAL 100, the first recycled aluminum made entirely from post-consumer scrap on an industrial scale. Vases and table lamps by Inga Sempé, Shane Schneck, and Max Lamb were particularly compelling, as the curvy forms showed the material’s extrusions both inside and out.

rock-like seating
A rock-like seating collection, dubbed Tofu, belies the soft, squishy nature of the material (Courtesy IAMMI)

Tofu Collection by IAMMI

Off the beaten path, the Isola neighborhood is quickly becoming the place for emerging designers. In the industrial neighborhood, an installation by IAMMI, presented by Isola Design Gallery, plays with duality. Tofu is a collection of seats, benches, and tables that look hard and geologic, but are actually soft to the touch—courtesy of their materiality: upcycled foam rubber.

new lighting from FLOS in an office setting
New workplace lighting, Workmates, boasts a subtle and minimal profile (Nicolò Panzeri)

Workmates by Flos

In Flos’s showroom, installation Out of Office, designed by Arquitectura-G, presented the lighting brand’s new workplace luminaires, Workmates. The collection, designed by Flos Architectural, consists of suspension, ceiling, track, and floor solutions, all defined by a flattened aluminum extrusion with clusters of light on either end. The lighting variants can be synced to the circadian rhythm for optimized comfort and energy efficiency.

steel bathroom products and appliances
Salvatori’s new collection with Patricia Urquiola uses steel for the first time (Courtesy Salvatori)

steel bathroom products and appliances
A circular niche installed in the Salvatori Milan showroom exhibited the new collection (Courtesy Salvatori)

The Small Hours by Patricia Urquiola for Salvatori

This bathroom collection presents the first time Salvatori has integrated stainless steel into their design. Patricia Urquiola employs steel as a form of glue that conjoins natural stone or wooden materials for a striking yet cohesive collection. It features both countertops, sink vanities, vanity chair, bathtub, taps and faucets, and more—all of which continue the round motif of the design.

biomaterials as office furniture, stools and shelves
Vank uses biomaterials to create acoustic furniture and office solutions (Courtesy Vank)

Acoustic Furniture by Vank

Vank is a Polish-based manufacturer that uses recycled materials to design modular office furniture and acoustic solutions. As a part of Isola Design Gallery’s exhibit Is One Life Enough?, Vank presented CUBE Cabinet and Shelves, a storage system made from biomaterial, namely flax and hemp. Vank also presented acoustic panels, another creative design borne out of biomaterials.

installation by ecoLogicStudio at Milan Design Week
The installation by ecoLogicStudio showcases circular and sustainable design (Courtesy ecoLogicStudio)

PhotoSynthetica Collection by ecoLogicStudio

ecoLogicStudio’s debut at Milan Design Week included PhotoSynthetica, a desktop biotechnological air purifier, titled AIReactor, a compostable stool, and a Bio-digital Ring. Biomass grown from the air purification process becomes raw material for 3D-printing the compostable stool and the jewelry, creating a circular design process.