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The Diner

Milan, Italy

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Surface magazine, we united visitors to the 2018 Salone del Mobile around a quintessentially American concept: The Diner. During the furniture fair, the public was invited to relax and connect in an intimate, contemporary interpretation of the classic American eatery, designed by David Rockwell and the LAB at Rockwell Group. Renowned design studio 2x4 created the project’s graphic identity.

Creating a distinct, colorful visual style, Rockwell Group was able to explore the enduring attraction of diners: their ability to make strangers into a community, elbow-to-elbow; their call to locals and nomads alike; their celebration of casual yet intimate encounters; and their existence at the crossroads of different cultures and eras.

Located in an historic vault under the famous Milano Centrale train station, The Diner offered a number of opportunities for partnerships, from food and drink to furnishings by designers and brands that represented a global perspective.

Guests were welcomed by punctuated neon signage, along with projection mapping in the evenings that played with The Diner’s branding and its custom typography.

Visitors entered The Diner through an unusual speakeasy: a roadside take-out coffee and pie shop, but with an eccentric twist.

An iconic New York luncheonette—an immersive monochromatic space—seamlessly connected to a Midwest diner featuring cotton candy-colored booths and bright accents.

Three distinct bar areas were partitioned with reflective prosceniums.

New York City culinary institution Murray's Cheese curated The Diner's menu.

A celebration of casual yet intimate encounters

The Diner was conceived as the ultimate gathering place, taking guests on an experiential road trip through iconic elements of American diner culture (“counter” culture!) and different vignettes that drew on Rockwell Group's expertise in set design and hospitality.

A stage hosted Design Dialogues and Surface programming during the day and special performances at night.

A sense of community

In the West Coast diner, guests were greeted by a mash-up of Joshua Tree’s bohemian roots and eclectic Venice Beach. Lush plants, found objects, and indoor-outdoor lounge furniture were complemented by continuously transitioning projected images of sunsets on the open road.

Salone guests could recharge during the day and party at night.
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