Lee Broom’s The Department Store

Quirky British style at Milan’s Salone del Mobile Internazionale

Trust the award-winning British designer Lee Broom to come up with a quirky way of winning over the famously style-conscious Milanese, along with international design fans at this year’s Salone del Mobile Internazionale in Milan (April 14-19). Instead of showing his latest furniture, lighting and home accessories in a conventional gallery space, Broom has transformed a street of disused shops in the city’s San Gregorio Docet district into a cinematic pastiche of a traditional store to create an immersive experience called The Department Store. Strolling through a dozen interconnected areas, including The Perfumery, Haberdashery, Ladies’ Accessories, Gentlemen’s Fitting Room and Bookstore, visitors find each store-inspired “department” has received a theatrically surreal makeover to act as a backdrop to Broom’s eye-catching new designs (furniture from £500-£20,000; lighting from £300-£5,000; glassware and tabletop accessories from £75-£400). The journey concludes in The Stock Room where some of the most popular designs from Broom’s earlier collections are displayed.

This lively scenography fosters an engaging experience as visitors move from one tableau to the next. Among the bold new designs on show is the Hanging Hoop Chair (first picture), an elegantly geometric creation in which two brass-plated, circular hoops meet in a minimal seat and backrest upholstered in Kvadrat wool. It’s an eloquent charmer that combines modernist and contemporary sensibilities.

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Just as alluring is the new Glass on Brass collection (second picture) of glassware in which the clean silhouettes of crystal vessels merge with polished, solid spun-brass bases to create highly original cocktail, wine and water glasses.

Broom is well-regarded for his innovative lighting – his Crystal Bulb (£109) was a British Design Awards winner in 2013 – and the lights in this new collection don’t disappoint. The simple yet striking Ring Light (third picture) is a polished brass sphere pierced by a dimmable, circular fluorescent tube. The dome-like Chapel Light (fourth picture) houses a colourful, hand-crafted, stained-glass panel in a geometric pattern, while the elegant Crescent Light is an illuminated sphere sliced in half to reveal a crescent-shaped, brushed-brass shade.

All the designs in this ambitious exhibition can be reserved on the spot (for subsequent international delivery) by anyone keen to snap up a slice of quirky British design in Italy’s most style-conscious city.

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Get beneath the skin of London designer Broom in our feature-length profile, or discover Rossana Orlandi’s insider tips on how to have the perfect weekend in Milan.

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