Under The Surface

The immersive installation for Salone del Mobile 2024


Salone del Mobile, the most important design event in the world, tasked our Space Design team, the renowned artist and illustrator Emiliano Ponzi, the data visualization studio Accurat, with imagining and bringing to life a special installation as part of the Salone del Mobile 2024 cultural program.

The collaboration began at Salotto NY, a creative hub where Emiliano Ponzi and Accurat are co-founders along with our US team.

Located in Pavilion 10 of the International Bathroom Exhibition, the project aimed to highlight the vital importance of global water resources and their conservation.
The installation should invite visitors to investigate and reflect on the water footprint of the bathroom furniture supply chain, encouraging strategies for the responsible and efficient use of this planet’s most precious resource.


“I believe any exhibition or art installation needs  two main features: a meaningful storytelling and a strong aesthetics. It has to be felt before being rationally understood.”
Emiliano Ponzi
Artist – Art Director of Under The Surface
‘Under the Surface’ took the form of a submerged island, symbolizing water as a source of life and the challenges inherent in the relationship between this element and us, as part of the planet, consumers, and producers.

Starting from the idea of Atlantis and the suggestion of a landscape with peaks and valleys, the installation appeared as an imposing and multifaceted relief that we crafted to guide the exhibition path and convey the messages that Salone del Mobile aimed to deliver through its 2024 cultural program.

To populate the installation with data-driven stories, the team worked with multiple interconnected sources.


Upon first glance, water consumption data provided by the World Bank was projected onto the installation’s relief.

Data regarding per capita availability of freshwater from renewable sources took the form of imaginary schools of fish grouped by country and region, spanning the time frame from 1961 to 2019.

Data on freshwater withdrawal in the domestic and industrial sectors gathered and organized into the form of suggestive geysers—uncontrollable phenomena meant to stimulate reflection on the idea that, while nature is uncontrollable, the relationship between humans and nature can and must be managed.

Data on global precipitation in cubic millimeters became intangible droplets destined to fall on a plane, representing the geographical areas affected by the examined rainfall.



After further exploration, visitors encountered three caves carved into the same reliefs.

Here additional datasets described the state of the art, technological innovations, and manufacturing advancements in the bathroom furnishings sector through the use of dynamic visualization, abstract marine landscapes printed in 3D, and holographic projections.

The three caves offered visual narratives about water-related challenges:

  1. first and foremost, cutting water consumption;
  2. the second challenge concerned the reduction of energy consumption;
  3. the third challenge focused on the reuse and recycling of materials.



From concept to reality, we analyzed the context of the space and how it should relate to the furniture fair and its visitors.

It quickly became evident that the key was to create an experience that would momentarily transport visitors out of the fair’s context and crowd, into a different world, providing the right mental space to reflect on the importance of water as a resource in a poetic yet fact-checked manner.

Therefore, the most significant challenge was to create a world that was internally coherent, integrating the design of the structure, lighting effects, and data projections seamlessly.

The physical and digital installation became an authentic and believable metaphor for the importance of water as a vital resource.

The immersive 370 m2 “Under the Surface” was a true highlight of the 2024 Salone del Mobile, offering visitors a captivating destination and gaining huge media attention.

The experience was complemented by a sound atmosphere based on World Bank data. In line with the growing importance of sustainability in the design field, particularly for ephemeral events like Salone del Mobile, materials suppliers and installation builders were selected based on their geographical proximity to reduce transportation and emissions. The underwater landscapes were crafted from EPS, a lightweight, recyclable polymer suitable to be reused to produce building insulation panels.

“For a renowned client like Salone del Mobile, we needed to deliver an impeccable and meaningful project. Under The Surface successfully achieved this goal, presenting an engaging and approachable reflection on a crucial theme to over 360,000 visitors. We are proud to have collaborated with brilliant creatives like Emiliano Ponzi and Accurat, and to have executed the entire project—from concept development to sustainable construction and dismantling guidelines—to the highest standards possible.”
Gabriel Zangari
Design and Managing Director NY


“We chose to address the themes of sustainability and water saving, which are central to the evolution of bathrooms. By poetically visualising data relating to the sector, and describing the problems, we are showing that knowing how to connect knowledge, skills and technologies is vital for generating projects and products that improve lives because they are respectful of the environment. Today, more than ever, we must be conscious of the influence of our daily choices on the future.”
Maria Porro
President of the Salone del Mobile.Milano


About the project


Federlegno Arredo Eventi SpA



Photo credit

Photos of the installation by Emanuele Zamboni

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