Auto highlights from the 2015 Salone del Mobile

View of futuristic style transportation models on display in a space with grey floors and white walls with a splash of blue on the back wall

(Image credit: TBC)

'Spheres' by Alfredo Häberli for BMW: 'Spheres' is a study into the values of future mobility on a conceptual level. Alfredo Häberli (opens in new tab) works on the belief that 'silence, space and time' are what constitutes luxury in the future - that it is beyond the material dimension. We are taken on a journey that begins with childhood memories, sketches and studies. It ends with a large-scale model, a giant ten-meter teak sculpture that resembles the skeleton of an old ship discovered at the bottom of the ocean. It leads to a spatial installation that allows personal thoughts on future mobility to be experienced in the present

View of a colourful illustration

(Image credit: TBC)

'Spheres' by Alfredo Häberli for BMW: Häberli refrains from dictating a single solution. Instead the designer examines the vessel, architecture and urban planning. Here roads expand into the skies, they spiral around one another with no clear direction so that the journey itself becomes the focus

View of a simple design in white of a futuristic style vessel with a colourful background

(Image credit: TBC)

'Spheres' by Alfredo Häberli for BMW: Vessels aren't about dynamic driving alone, but offer enjoyment in the experience of travel - enjoyment in the now. Cities are built on sea, in the skies - it is a cinematic world evoking films like 'Gattaca' and 'The Fifth Element'

View of a simple model of a yellow futuristic style vessel pictured against a black background

(Image credit: TBC)

'Spheres' by Alfredo Häberli for BMW: Karim Habib, Head of BMW design, explains the project. 'For Alfredo mobility in the future is beyond cars, beyond aeroplanes. It is more about flying, coasting, gliding. He has visions of how cities can be,' he considers, pointing at an abstract vessel that is at once a boat, a glider, a spaceship. 

For Habib and his team, such projects impact on BMW (opens in new tab) design on an abstract level. 'It feeds into the act of automated driving. For a brand that has been associated with driving, what are the challenges and equally opportunities,' he offers. 'Our job as designers is to create an environment for when you're not driving,' says Habib, 'and I'm super happy to be working in a time when we can do all this

View of a green, white and bronze coloured electric scooter in a clear display box. The scooter sits in a space with patterned flooring, sphere lighting that resembles a traffic light and a patterned structure with an elevated path that resembles a road

(Image credit: TBC)

'Urban Perspectives' by Jaime Hayon for Mini: Jaime Hayon (opens in new tab) takes on the Citysurfer for 'Urban Perspectives'. He adds colour and texture - and a great dose of fun - to Mini (opens in new tab)'s small, foldable electric kick scooter concept. Here they are displayed in an imaginary landscape of bold colours and shapes, of streets made of thick slabs of white marble, dots to direct the flow of traffic, giant copper street lamps along the route, oversized clothing and curious helmets

View of a colourful illustration

(Image credit: TBC)

'Urban Perspectives' by Jaime Hayon for Mini: This is what the artist calls his 'urban jungle'. He says he wants to create a scenario for the future that isn't cloaked in dark colours, one that is joyful

View of a green, white and bronze coloured electric scooter in a clear display box. The scooter sits in a space with patterned flooring, sphere lighting that resembles a traffic light, a patterned structure and an elevated path that resembles a road. A blue and white scooter can be seen in the background

(Image credit: TBC)

'Urban Perspectives' by Jaime Hayon for Mini: 'I come from the world of art and design and the idea was to explore mobility in my accent,' he explains as we wander around this playhouse. 'I wanted to create something more inspirational in terms of graphics and colour. I wanted to give the object a more fantastical look,' he adds - and the result is certainly so

View of a light grey helmet next to a smaller red version pictured on a wooden surface

(Image credit: TBC)

'Urban Perspectives' by Jaime Hayon for Mini: For Hayon, materials had to be 'noble', so we have roads of marble, with furniture and ceramic objects. 'The idea they gave me was to work on the object, but I also wanted to work on the context in which it is displayed,' he says. 'My work is about creating fascinating spaces'

View of wooden structures in a darkly lit space

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'A Journey of the Senses' by Philippe Nigro and Hajime Yoneda for Lexus: Lexus (opens in new tab) invites us on a sensory experience with 'A Journey of the Senses'. We taste elements of the 'cycle of life' - raindrops, nature, earth - through design and food. Here the journey is directed by designer Philippe Nigro (opens in new tab)'s installation and enhanced through chef Hajime Yoneda (opens in new tab)'s experimental tasters.

'It is playground for adults,' muses Nigro with a smile as he leads us through his modular wooden structure that subtly plays with contrasting material and textures - metallic mesh, soft transparent fabrics, blonde untreated wood - fused together to, he notes, 'surprise the visitor'

View of a wooden path surrounded by high wood slat walls under a clear blue sky. A woman dressed in white can also be seen

(Image credit: TBC)

'A Journey of the Senses' by Philippe Nigro and Hajime Yoneda for Lexus: We move through a series of cocoons, each one of which is designed to heighten the senses and evoke the Inside-Out Lexus design philosophy encouraging our enjoyment of driving through design.

We are challenged to see the beauty of bad weather in a dark room where close-set ball chains illuminate to produce an illusion of falling rain. We consume 'raindrops' made out of sparkling candy that dissolves and sets off a sweet crackling sound somewhere in our mouth.

Nigro's structure directs us to a space created to resemble the inside of a giant tree trunk. Here we pop a ball wrapped in cacao butter into our mouths and the aroma of fresh, verdant greenery washes over our senses as we absorb the quiet sounds of the forest. This is the beauty of nature, as seen from the inside

View of a woman holding a small bowl of soup in front of an illuminated model of the earth in a darkly lit space. There are also lights that resemble stars

(Image credit: TBC)

'A Journey of the Senses' by Philippe Nigro and Hajime Yoneda for Lexus: Our journey concludes in the beginning of life where we enjoy a bowl of warm 'earth soup' composed of the essence of vegetables, meat and fish whilst taking in the universe with its twinkling stars in pure darkness. Yoneda says the idea is to calm the nerves through sight, sound, feel and taste. This, he believes, is the role of the car in the future to create such an environment when driving. 'Joy has to be in everything we design and experience'

View of the copper 'Kodoki' vase pictured against a black background

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'Car as Art' for Mazda: Mazda used the occasion of Milan to explore Kodo, its design philosophy rooted in old Japan, through a range of objects made by skilled Japanese artisans and internally by the Mazda design team. Kodoki is a vase created by the Gyokusendo (opens in new tab) studio using the ancient tsuiki method whereby the artisans beat the ingot into a thick sheet by hand, adding colour through a reaction between tin plated on the piece's surface and a unique mix of compounds taken from nature

View of the teal, oval-shaped 'Shiraito' lacquered box pictured against a black background

(Image credit: TBC)

'Car as Art' for Mazda: Similarly the Shiraito lacquered box by Hiroshima artisan Kinjo-Ikkokusai uses the cho-shitsu technique. Inspired by waterfalls, here the streams of water are painstakingly built up by individually applying tiny flakes of eggshell to the lacquer base. Mazda director of design Ikuo Maeda believes 'there is something very spiritual in the way they work.' The process is slow, watching the objects come to life over months and months of painstaking labour  - and it is the passion that sees life injected into these static objects that makes them so special

View of a black sofa pictured against a black background

(Image credit: TBC)

'Car as Art' for Mazda: The sofa and racing bike on display are one-off pieces that convey creative engineering, a more European approach to problem solving. The foam within the long, elegant sofa designed in collaboration with Milan's Setsu and Shinobu Ito (opens in new tab), for instance, needed to be milled in a way that even the Italian producer responsible found challenging. Underneath, the structure is made of red wood and the natural untreated red from the material reveals itself on occasion, subtly without show

View of a black and red bicycle pictured against a black background

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'Car as Art' for Mazda: The bike frame is beaten from a steel panel, the hand-sewn leather saddle features the same stitching as the upcoming MX-5's upholstery, and the red in the colour scheme is symbolic of Kodo. European design director Kevin Rice says it is really refreshing to see how other people see Kodo. 'It is our DNA and we have been pushing it to its limit. We have intellectualised it here, transferring the spiritual flow from us to the objects'

View of a black futuristic style boat pictured against a grey background

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'Objects' by Ford: For Milan, the Ford (opens in new tab) global team designed a range of non-car objects inspired by the interior of the new GT supercar including a boat, guitar, foosball table, floating lamp, wifi speaker and two interpretations of lounge areas.

Design chief Moray Callum explains, 'We're taking the concepts and philosophy behind the Ford GT's interior design and applying it to other products.' He says its sweeping organic shape and aerodynamic, lightweight carbon material will influence the marque's future interior language

View of Ford's 'Favilla: To Every Light a Voice' installation - a large blue box with an object inside that is covered with red fabric. There is a building behind the box and silhouettes of people in front

(Image credit: TBC)

'Objects' by Ford: Ford also displayed 'Favilla: To Every Light a Voice', created in collaboration with architect Attilio Stocchi (opens in new tab). The immersive installation unfolds inside two large boxes. The first examines the science of light amid a dazzling, reflective show; the second, by Ford's in-house animation studio, offers an engaging product experience revealing the marque's design process

Front and side view of a blue guitar pictured against a black background

(Image credit: TBC)

'Objects' by Ford: Callum wants to expose the public to some of the thinking that goes on in his studios. 'This is the perfect opportunity to share some of the creativity within our team while also offering our designers an opportunity to go beyond the everyday work and get exposure to new ideas that will inspire future designs

View of a black payment card pictured on top of multiple coins and a piece of wood

(Image credit: TBC)

'Money' by Hyundai Card: Korean marque Hyundai's unusual exhibition in Milan looked at how a financial company can connect with art and design by turning the use of money into an aesthetic experience

View of Hyundai's interactive exhibition featuring a long illuminated display table with various items on show. Multiple people can also be seen

(Image credit: TBC)

'Money' by Hyundai Card: Here the company's financial arm Hyundai Card (opens in new tab) unveiled Money designed to show how a credit card can express an individual lifestyle. This is an interactive exhibition where visitors took away printouts in the form of sales receipts using the access cards at the entrance

View of a metal printing machine and a red card pictured on a stone surface

(Image credit: TBC)

'Money' by Hyundai Card: The printouts are meant to act as snapshots of Hyundai Card's belief in the importance of design

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.