Project Spotlight

RIOS Brings a Futuristic Take on a Desert Super Bloom to Milan 

The installation sought to explore the joy and wonder of witnessing swaths of wildflowers appear almost instantly in unlikely places.

All photography by Matteo Cirenei for RIOS.

To stand out from the crowd of well-executed installations around Milan during Salone del Mobile is no small feat. Los Angeles–based studio RIOS brought a bit of desert magic to Milan Design Week by way of an abstracted, sensorially immersive interpretation of a desert super bloom’s lifecycle. Where “Superbloom,” the installation, truly shines is in the way it harnesses form, color, materiality, as well as smell and sound to create an enthralling experience of the natural phenomenon that sees expansive wildflower blooms sweep deserts almost instantaneously. 

After design week, the installation will live on thanks to Milanese design agency Esther Burton. The exhibition items will be donated to Ai.Bi. Associazione Amici dei Bambini, a nonprofit association fighting child neglect in Italy and worldwide as well as supporting refugee Ukrainian moms with their children in Italy. Instead of being discarded, the colors of “Superbloom” will bring joy to local playrooms.

Project Description: “Superbloom” represents the ephemeral phenomena rooted in the relationship between ecologies and our cognition and memory of them. We’ve brought to life a thought-provoking exhibition that replicates the natural yet fleeting occurrence of a Southern California super bloom to unite the Milan Design Week audience in a shared experience. Transported through a sensory and temporal lens, visitors are transplanted into a joyful and immersive journey with nature that lives beyond the bloom. 

Project Inspiration: “Superbloom” is the result of an inclusive, bottom-up, multidisciplinary approach to design: we harnessed collective participation across the entire office to find a body of ideas that represent our values and aspirations. 

The intention is to translate the unique phenomenon of naturally occurring super blooms into a layered, multisensory, and immersive experience. The end result stems from an intense collaboration between designers with very different professional backgrounds and personal experiences. The iterative process of prototyping at full-scale and refining the materiality, form, and interaction with lights and projections highlighted the pivotal role that our Fabrication Lab plays in every project.

Project Takeaways: Superbloom is an immersive, synesthetic experience whose primary goal is to showcase our studio’s ability to steer emotions, create moments of wonder, and joyfully bring people together. We hope that visiting our space will bring people a memory of a moment filled with joy, color, and the intuitive realization that our senses are alive, connecting us all and igniting exuberance and optimism for the future.

“Superbloom” is a poetic representation of the firm’s ability to craft experiences that are socially, intellectually, and culturally relevant. The installation aims at a different approach to portraying nature as the main character of a spatial experience: it’s a continued conversation about nature and how it constantly influences and shapes our thinking as designers and humans. 

Project Challenges: With “Superbloom,” we wanted to highlight how fabrication is deeply embedded in our creative process. In these times of global disruptions, it hasn’t been necessarily easy to ship all the components of the installation in a timely manner, so big kudos to our designers who traveled to Milan and made this experience happen! 

RIOS is a member of The List , the destination for all things Surface -approved. Want to join The List ? Contact our team to find out how to apply.



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