The Milan road show: auto brands drive into design territory at the 2014 Salone del Mobile

The Onyx sofa made from volcanic rock and carbon fibre
(Image credit: press)

The reputation of Milan's Salone del Mobile rests on its ability to attract designers from every sphere, all eager to experience the latest trends in product design. This is a relatively fast-moving industry, one that apes fashion to the extent that dominant themes, colours, materials and innovations tend to be imitated and disseminated, translated from high-end products to mass-market ones in short market cycles.

Lounge Chair

(Image credit: press)

See more of the car brands' offerings at the 'Auto Milano' show

Car designers look with envy at the speed of the process. With car making locked into a 10-15 year cycle, governed by the enormous complexity of manufacturing and technological development, one would imagine that the worlds of furniture design and automotive design would be content to eye each other with aloof suspicion. In fact, the past few years has seen several major manufacturers muscle in on Milan.

Last year the effect was pronounced, and the motoring sideshow persisted in 2014, with new installations, design competitions and the appearance of the odd concept car all conspiring to share the limelight with the big furniture brands. Jaguar's participation at Wallpaper* Handmade showed one approach, while other companies blew their budgets on massive interactive installations. Above, we take you on a tour of the action at the fast-growing Auto Milano show.

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.