Dezeen Magazine

The Diner by David Rockwell

The Diner pop-up restaurant serves a slice of Americana in Milan

Milan design week visitors can grab refreshments at an American-style diner by Rockwell Group installed inside a railway arch.

Rockwell Group teamed up with Surface magazine and design consultancy 2x4 to create The Diner, which is located under the tracks that run into Milan's Centrale railway station.

The installation is operating as a restaurant and bar for the duration of the week, serving typical American cuisine in a setting inspired by traditional diners found across the United States.

The Diner by David Rockwell

Rockwell Group founder David Rockwell, who's work ranges from cultural venues to theatre sets, designed the space to merge four different types of Stateside eateries: the roadside diner, East Coast luncheonette, Midwest diner, and West Coast diner.

"Diners are uniquely American and enduring in our cultural iconography," said Rockwell. "Our goal is to capture the restaurant's inherently optimistic and democratic spirit that draws people of all backgrounds to create a welcoming, lively, engaging, and fun environment."

The centre of the space is occupied by a 14-metre-long bar, from which drinks are served and where diners can sit. Above, neon lighting spells out some of the cuisine on offer, including burgers, shakes and fries.

Seating around the high counter is provided by Emeco's 1006 Navy Counter Stool, which has been in production since 1944 and is considered an American design classic, while booths line the long sides of the arched room.

"There's an inherent democracy in [the design of a] diner that has to do with the counter – something we're making very prominent," Rockwell said.

The Diner by David Rockwell

The restaurant is divided up, so the front portion is coloured in shades of grey and decorated with metallic accents.

A fringe of curtain separates the monochromatic zone with a bright pink area in the middle, which then gives way to a tropical aesthetic towards the rear.

At the back, a stage is set up to host talks and other programmed events during the week, flanked by plants and lounge seating. Furniture from American brand Design Within Reach is used throughout the space.

To accompany the installation, 2x4 created branding and a bespoke typeface, which is used for the neon lighting.

"I would say that American identity is currently challenged," said Susan Sellers 2x4 creative director and partner. "We wanted to capture that paradox in The Diner's identity."

The Diner by David Rockwell

The Diner is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails all week, from 17 to 22 April 2018, as part of the Ventura Centrale exhibition at Via Ferrante Aporti 15.

Check out our other exhibitions and installations not to miss in our guide to American designers and brands showcasing in Milan this year.