Celebrating American diner culture
David Rockwell with Surface magazine
RENOWNED NEW YORK architect David Rockwell is collaborating with the US design magazine Surface on an installation celebrating the iconic American diner. Located in a huge redundant vault below Milano Centrale railway station, it is both a design showcase and a functioning diner, offering visitors a place to snack and relax.
Rockwell, whose background includes theatrical set design, has championed aspects of American design through graphics, furniture, food and live performance, while exploring the perennial appeal of diners: their ability to bridge eras and cultures, and embrace strangers within communities.
‘Diners are uniquely American and enduring in our cultural iconography,’ he says. ‘What’s great about them is their amazing design ideas, such as open counters – the precursor of the open kitchen in today’s restaurants – and their innovative use of materials. Our goal is to capture the restaurants’ inherently optimistic and democratic spirit that draws people of all backgrounds to create a welcoming, lively and fun environment.’
His own creation includes custom fonts, neon signage and mirrored infinity walls, with four distinct areas. The Airstream-inspired entrance ushers visitors into a roadside coffee-and-pie shop, which leads through to a monochrome New York luncheonette serving milkshakes, cheesecake and other classic diner fare, and on to a kitsch Midwest diner with candy-coloured booths and grilled-cheese sandwiches. The final touch is a West Coast lounge, where desert oasis meets old-hollywood glamour amid lush plants.
The Diner is at Via Ferrante Aporti 9, 20125 Milan. rockwellgroup.com
Right David Rockwell’s diner installation reinterprets an American institution. Far right Rockwell. Below The Elan Armoire by Pinch