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8 Stunning Installations You Can’t Miss During Salone del Mobile 2016

by Rick Anderson

In Italy, more is always more—higher heels, longer dinners, wilder colors and patterns. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that during the Salone del Mobile furniture fair, presentations that might have otherwise been small showroom displays are made truly grand. Of course, with Milan’s abundance of palazzos and glamorously decaying warehouses, it certainly has suitable location options. This year, from a delivery truck reenvisioned as a palazzo to a deconsecrated church turned fully functioning restaurant, the exhibitions are as over the top as ever. Here, we collect our favorites. Cue the Instagrammers vying for the best angle.

British designer Tom Dixon has transformed the 18th-century Rotonda della Besana—a deconsecrated church in a cloistered garden—into a 21st-century eatery serving up a menu inspired by the four elements, devised by Italian food design studio Arabeschi di Latte. Dixon designed four contemporary kitchens with quartz manufacturer Caesarstone and lit the space with his signature gleaming lighting in glass and metal. Look up—you won't find architecture this stunning just anywhere.

London-based fashion brand COS tapped Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto to design a magical installation at Milan’s Cinema Arti, a theater built in the 1930s by Mario Cereghini. With stalactites of misty light projected from the ceiling, mirrored walls, and a bit of fog, the magical environment mimics the forest at twilight. Take a seat on one of Fujimoto’s curving steel stools or benches and disappear in the shadows.

British designer Lee Broom is taking his new collection of lighting to the streets, creating an Italian palazzo (complete with Ionic columns and elaborate moldings) in the back of a van you’ll spot zipping around the city for most of the week.

Massimiliano Locatelli of Milan-based CLS Architetti filled his old townhouse with his dazzling new product designs. Wind up the spiral staircase and you’ll see Murano glass bowls in the dining room, 3-D–printed concrete tables in the library, and on the top floor a luxurious velvet chair that folds down into a bench.

Known for its elegant presentation style, Hermès did not disappoint. To debut the first collection of furniture with new artistic directors Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry, the historic French brand tapped Mexican architect Mauricio Rocha to devise a structure from tufo—or bricks of earth—which created a cool, shadowy, almost primal atmosphere in the Piazza Vetra.

Nike transformed a derelict warehouse just down the street from Fondazione Prada into a dramatic showspace, employing thousands of shoeboxes to create a futuristic chalky white maze. Winding through the exhibition you’ll discover the athleticwear brand’s collaborations with ten contemporary designers—from a shuddering light fixture by Lindsey Adelman to a levitating hunk of marble by Max Lamb.

To showcase its new collaborations with lighting brand Wrong.London, buzzy Danish brand Hay turned the showspace at La Pelota into a dollhouse of sorts that viewers can walk into or view from above.

Japanese designer Akira Minagawa’s latest fabrics for Kvadrat are displayed in a delightful installation in the textile brand’s Corso Monforte showroom.

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