Design With Nature by Accurat

For the 2022 Salone del Mobile, Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA) were commissioned to design a 1400 sq. m. centerpiece exhibition focused on the year’s theme of sustainability. We worked with the firm to conceptualize and construct “Design With Nature:” a piazza–like space for congregation and education.

Our primary task was to design the installation’s mode of communication: two and three–dimensional displays that provided context for a vast variety of models that demonstrated the potential of refuse found in cities to be repurposed into sustainable materials. To capture attention amid the bustle of the fair, we relied on visualization. With an original set of hand–drawn symbols, we conveyed to passersby essential info about materials in support of MCA's argument for rethinking cities as mines for eco–friendly production.

Design With Nature's labyrinthine layout encouraged visitors to take a self–guided tour through its ecosystem, home to models made from items like single–use plastic bottles and polyurethene salvaged from footwear and furniture production. Each material display was accompanied by signage illustrating key facts, such as place of origin, relevant industries, makeup of recycled materials, and—conversely—recyclability. Information was synthesized into unique data portraits, meant for perusers to grasp at a glance. Our original, hand–drawn symbology was ubiquitous throughout the exhibition—organizers even incorporated it into official branding.

In addition to these panels, we lead design and execution efforts on several three–dimensional installations.

A large–scale, circular timeline showed the evolution of sustainable thinking from 10,000 BCE to present day. Milestones in the history of design ranging from the building of Stonehenge to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater to the publication of The Architecture of Trees appear alongside—and often in contrast with—concurrent world events including major political conflicts and nuclear disasters. Constructed as a winding loop, the timeline is meant to be traversed, giving the effect of a journey through time.

Separately, we produced a data–driven "totem" stationed near the exhibition's entrance. Taking the form of a skyscraper, the installation illustrates the "anthropogenic mass," or weight of all human–made materials since 1900. A breakdown of these materials can be seen by horizontal delineations and differences in texture. Next to it, a shorter structure covered in greenery represents the weight of all dry life on earth. The difference in height clearly signals that human refuse has surpassed that of all life on dry land, establishing the scale of the environmental crises from the outset.

The 2022 Salone del Mobile attracted 262,000 visitors, and Design With Nature received positive press in ArchDaily, Wallpaper, and Architectural Digest.