Michele de Lucchi transforms Poltrona Frau showroom into Earth Station

Design

Architect and artist Michele de Lucchi explains how his takeover of Poltrona Frau’s flagship store during Milan design week explores new ways of working and learning, in this movie Dezeen produced for the Italian brand.

Named Connecting Experiences, the showroom installation comprises a series of spaces that encourage visitors to engage with a selection of Poltrona Frau products by working, relaxing and learning together.

Michele De Lucchi takes over Poltrona Frau showroom for Milan Design Week
Michele De Lucchi designed the showroom of Italian furniture brand Poltrona Frau for Milan design week

These zones are delineated by wooden screens, which are intended to add depth to the rooms whilst also creating privacy.

De Lucchi, whose architecture studio AMDL is based in Milan, was commissioned by Poltrona Frau following a research project called Earth Stations, which he conducted over a period of two years.

Michele De Lucchi takes over Poltrona Frau showroom for Milan Design Week
The showroom is divided into different zones by wooden screens

The showroom is intended to be a prototype realisation of this conceptual research project.

“I try to interpret the world in which we are living, and especially try to understand what will happen in the future,” the architect told Dezeen.

Michele De Lucchi takes over Poltrona Frau showroom for Milan Design Week
Called Connecting Experiences, the takeover is an attempt to bring people together through work, relaxation and learning

Central to De Lucchi’s research was the premise that advancements in technology would eventually liberate the human race from laborious, menial tasks.

According to the architect, this freedom could give rise to new kinds of spaces, where work and education could be engaged with in a more informal and collective manner.

Michele De Lucchi takes over Poltrona Frau showroom for Milan Design Week
De Lucchi’s two-year research project, entitled Earth Stations, inspired the showroom

The project culminated in the design of several conceptual buildings, which De Lucchi calls Earth Stations, that give the research project its name.

3D-printed models of these buildings are displayed alongside renderings in a dedicated gallery within the Poltrona Frau showroom.

In addition to a gallery, the showroom also features a co-working space and coffee bar – both of which feature a soundtrack curated by Rolling Stone magazine. Further spaces include a reading room and a conference room.

Michele De Lucchi takes over Poltrona Frau showroom for Milan Design Week
The cinema is enclosed by a screen made of timber and doubles as a lecture theatre

A small cinema that doubles as a lecture theatre is screening a programme of design-related films, as well as a series of workshops and lectures given by Foster + Partners’ Pietro Gottardi and Alberto Lievore of Barcelona-based design studio Lievore + Alterr Desilé Park.

De Lucchi also added a blue three-tiered stage to the courtyard within the historic Milanese building that houses the showroom.

It is intended to act as a place where members of the public can congregate and learn in an informal way, according to the architect.

Michele De Lucchi takes over Poltrona Frau showroom for Milan design week
Installed in the courtyard is an amphitheatre which members of the public can access from Via Alessandro Manzoni

“The relationship with Earth Stations is that everything becomes an independent object” he said.

“The space is no longer a co-ordinated space, but is like a museum with an exposition of different sculptures and different artworks,” he added. “Here, even an amphitheatre becomes a piece of art.”

Pieces of Poltrana Frau furniture are exhibited throughout the installation including the Chester One armchair, which was designed by the brand’s founder Renzo Frau in 1912, Foster + Partners’ Cove chair and the Let It Be sofa designed by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba.

Michele De Lucchi takes over Poltrona Frau showroom for Milan Design Week
Poltrona Frau’s flagship store is housed within an old Milanese building

Designers need to innovate and defy convention in order to respond to the rapid pace of change in today’s society, according to De Lucchi.

“It’s very difficult to predict how fast the world will develop but we need visions for the future,” he said. “The traditional and conventional way to design today is no longer appropriate to fulfil the imagination and the needs of the people of the future.”

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