Unveiled for Milan Design Week, Lee Broom’s delivery van transformation was outfitted with wooden columns and molding, ceiling details and a light-up floor that gave the vehicle the effect of an Italian palazzo. The project was playfully dubbed the Salone del Automobile after the name of Milan’s famous furniture fair, the Salone del Mobile. The van was driven all the way from Broom’s studio in East London to Milan. Every day, the van was parked in different locations and various design districts around the city.
The pop-up palazzo debuted Broom’s latest lighting collection, Optical, which featured handblown glass globes with graphic black lines applied to create an optical illusory effect, depending on your angle of vision. To go the extra mile, Broom had the staff wear a uniform comprising auto mechanic coveralls with official Salone del Automobile badges on the sleeves.
By forgoing a shop or showroom space, Broom was able to take his show to the streets and share his works with everyday Milan citizens. The unexpected sight of a beautiful palazzo in the back of a van drew a broad audience, from design aficionados to families. In some locations, the crowds that formed were reminiscent of the swarms that surrounded Banksy’s Mobile Waterfall truck in NYC in 2013.
Lee Broom is known for his theatrical flair and eye for detail. At last year’s Milan Design Week, he took over a row of disused shops to create his ambitious Design Department Store. In previous years, he’s transformed his showroom into a general store using upcycled materials for London Design Festival.
Pop-up shops and food trucks are all the rage, but a roving showroom in the back of a truck at arguably the world’s most important design fair is audacious. Lee Broom has taken the pop-up game to a higher level. Roll on!
Photos by Charlene Lam for Inhabitat