One of Our Milan Week Favorites? An Adult Playground Made From Industrial Flooring

We’re now deep in the age of the Instagram-friendly immersive installation, which was especially evident at this year’s Milan furniture fair, where we couldn’t help but laugh at how many brands were touting some sort of earnestly dramatic light-based experience. And yet, for materials brands, there really is no better way to inspire visitors to reconsider and connect with a new industrial surface coating, or recycled plastic, or commercial textile than to present it as an interactive landscape — and no one did that better last month than Tarkett, who with Note Design Studio installed a towering forest of playful geometric columns inside one of Milan’s most beautiful buildings, the 150-year-old Circolo Filologico Milanese.

The installation — which I took to calling an “adult playground,” and Jill compared to a scene in Jumanji — was designed to introduce a new line of speckled vinyl flooring called iQ Surface, itself a collaboration between Tarkett and Note. Each of the 24 columns, some as tall as 16 feet, were wrapped entirely in the material; in adjacent Magis-furnished “meeting rooms” it was used to line shelves, standing screens, and a custom-made bar. In the airy library room of the building, which is now used as a language school, Note made dozens of small tabletop sculptures shaped like little aqueducts or staircases so that visitors could touch and inspect the material more closely. They also created a series of photographs, shown in the second half of this post, to spotlight iQ’s aesthetic properties.

Not as immediately visible, however, are its ecological ones: The company was quick to note, when we toured the show, that not only is iQ made from 25% recycled materials — many of them sourced from reclaimed Tarkett flooring — it can also be recycled itself, promising us that the exhibition we were looking at would either be reused in its current form or run back through the brand’s nascent closed-loop system. Which was comforting, especially after our panic attack at last year’s Milan fair over what would happen to the 150,000 zellige tiles used in Hermès’s exhibit.

Click here to see the full iQ Surface line and consider it for, you know, actual flooring.

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