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More than a pop-up

The show that had ev­ery­one talk­ing was The Diner, a cel­e­bra­tion of the 25th birth­day of Sur­face magazine. A col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the magazine, David Rock­well and de­sign stu­dio 2x4, The Diner was a pop-up restau­rant, bar and event space in a bar­rel-vaulted aban­doned ware­house un­der Mi­lan Cen­tral Sta­tion. Billed as a ‘coast-to-coast jour­ney through the United States’, four spa­ces were in­spired by a road­side diner, an East Coast lun­cheonette, a Mid­west diner and a West Coast diner. On the menu? Burg­ers and deli clas­sics pro­vided by cult New York ar­ti­san food re­tailer, Mur­ray’s Cheese. The space fea­tured events – de­signer karaoke, any­one? – and talks dur­ing the day, and trans­formed into a cock­tail bar by night. Part­ner sup­port, nat­u­rally, was ev­i­dent with fur­ni­ture sourced from De­sign Within Reach, while the 14m cen­tral bar was pro­vided by Sile­stone; ta­ble tops came from Dek­ton. No word on how much danc­ing they en­dured.

Sound and vi­sion

While Hay showed at the main Salone, we loved its col­lab­o­ra­tion at Palazzo Clerici with Sonos and WeWork, an Amer­i­can de­sign com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in shared workspaces. The idea? To present a shared vi­sion for the fu­ture of de­sign, col­lab­o­ra­tion and liv­ing spa­ces – in essence, unit­ing de­sign with light­ing, fur­ni­ture and sound in a her­itage space. The Palazzo is a lav­ish neo­clas­si­cal res­i­dence, all gilt and ta­pes­tries, which worked sur­pris­ingly well as a back­drop for Hay’s col­lec­tion of clean-lined de­signs in its sig­na­ture flat, slightly dirty greys, reds and greens across new de­signs from Ro­nan & Er­wan

Bouroul­lec, Ste­fan Diez, GamFratesi, Shane Sch­neck and many oth­ers. A high­light was the ‘Élé­men­taire’ chair by Ro­nan & Er­wan Bouroul­lec for Hay, a “plas­tic chair that does not look like a plas­tic chair”. Those in need of a rest, mean­while, could take a break in the leafy court­yard fur­nished with the very lovely ‘Palis­sade’ out­door fur­ni­ture col­lec­tion by the Bouroul­lec broth­ers for Hay. There were also smaller ob­jects to covet, such as the new ‘Sonos One’ speak­ers by Hay for Sonos, in a range of clas­sic Hay colours.

Chairs through time

Along with its typ­i­cally im­pres­sive of­fer­ing at the fair proper, Swiss man­u­fac­turer Vi­tra also staged Typecast­ing – an ex­hi­bi­tion of ‘iconic, forgotten and new Vi­tra char­ac­ters’ at La Pelota, a for­mer sports sta­dium not far from cen­tral Mi­lan. Against the white con­crete in­sti­tu­tional back­drop, Vi­tra in­stalled a huge, el­lip­ti­cal yel­low stage, on which the Vi­tra char­ac­ters were beau­ti­fully placed: de­sign geeks will spot the ‘Wig­gle’ chair by Frank Gehry, and more than a few Eames. The ef­fect was al­most toy-like – an im­pres­sion em­pha­sised by a black steel plat­form which al­lowed view­ers to look down on the col­lec­tion. The ex­hi­bi­tion was more than just a pretty ef­fect, though. De­signer Robert Sadler, cu­ra­tor of the ex­hi­bi­tion, sought to em­pha­sise the so­cial role of fur­ni­ture – and of chairs in par­tic­u­lar – as a key theme. His rea­son­ing: that there are few things finer than a chair, and few things more per­sonal.

Above and be­low The Diner, a restau­rant and bar, was a hugely pop­u­lar pop-up in an aban­doned ware­house un­der Mi­lan Cen­tral Sta­tion.

Left ‘Dapper’ by Doshi Le­vien for Hay. Above A ‘Sonos One’ speaker by Hay for Sonos. Bot­tom left Vi­tra’s ex­hi­bi­tion of iconic fur­ni­ture ap­peared toy-like when viewed from above.

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