3M design collaborates with stefano boeri on urban tree lounge for milan design week




3M design and stefano boeri architetti have collaborated on an installation that combines sustainability, materials design and architecture. presented on the occasion of milan design week, the ‘urban tree lounge’ offers visitors a place to reflect on all of the products that are revealed during the most important event year for the industry. set within the materials village, at the heart of superstudio più’s central plaza, the ‘urban tree lounge’ is an expression of what can happen when materials and architecture are combined in new and creative ways; and when there is a shared passion for sustainability and a vision to make life better.

the ‘urban tree lounge’ features 3M dichroic film ‘leaves’ suspended from a canopy of reflective 3M film
image © designboom




a ‘nest’ of kaleidoscopic wonder, the immersive work incorporates several 3M materials including films — an experience where light dances, thoughts reflect and minds (and mobile devices) recharge. at its base is a mini landscape made from 3M nomad matting, while an array of 3M dichroic film ‘leaves’, suspended from a canopy of 3M reflective film, floats above. the project has been realized as a means of showcasing just some of the many solutions that 3M creates to manage light, improve energy efficiency, and support thoughtful solutions to make a better world.


designboom spoke with eric quint, 3M’s chief design officer to discuss the company’s presence at milan design week, the experience of working with stefano boeri architetti, and the amount of scientific research and creative goes into developing 3M products.
3M design stefano boeri architetti urban tree lounge designboom
installation view of the ‘urban tree lounge’ at superstudio più during milan design week 2016




DESIGNBOOM: on an occasion like milan design week, what does 3M aim to share and showcase to the broader public?


ERIC QUINT: milan is such a vibrant city and international hub for creativity during design week, so it’s important for 3M to be here and connect with designers, thought leaders and influencers in the creative community. through our activation we aim to elevate awareness of the integral role design plays in creating thoughtful solutions in the area of sustainability for 3M partners and customers. we also demonstrate the value of creative collaborations, which is a driving theme for 3M design.



DB: can you discuss what 3M is presenting on the occasion of milan design week?


EQ: in collaboration with stefano boeri architetti, 3M design is presenting urban tree lounge, an installation that invites design week visitors to ‘reflect’ on all the design inspirations they are exploring in milan this week. here, they can experience magic moments that are made possible when materials and architecture are combined in new and creative ways. it’s an experience where light will dance, thoughts will reflect, and minds can take a moment to recharge during a very stimulating week in milan.

3M design stefano boeri architetti urban tree lounge designboom
the immersive work incorporates several 3M materials including films, non-wovens and adhesives




DB: how did the collaboration with stefano boeri begin and can you talk about the specific 3M material technologies you have used in this exhibition? why they were chosen for this installation?


EQ: as an architect who is renowned for his work on large scale projects and public space renewal driven by sustainability, stefano boeri is an ideal partner for this year’s installation. our design teams work together with shared values uniting quality with purpose to create design solutions that are beautiful, functional, and help improve people’s lives everywhere. urban tree lounge incorporates several 3M materials such as films, non-wovens and adhesives. some were chosen for the reflective qualities they lend to inspire creative experience, while others serve as a reminder that design is about finding solutions that are thoughtful…in this case, for example, 3M films to support energy efficiency.

3M urban tree lounge designboom
visitors sit down and relax at the ‘urban tree lounge’
image © designboom




DB: what are the particular innovative materials and technologies that are being highlighted on this occasion?


EQ: several 3M materials were used; one highlight would be our 3M dichroic film, which combines beauty, light, and color as a unique solution to interior glass surfaces that assists with glare reduction. in addition, 3M glass bubbles are used in solar paint, which can reflect solar rays for greater energy efficiency. we also applied our 3M sun control film, a multi-layer film based on nanotechnology that can enable uniquely high light transmission while reducing heat gain, keeping you cooler in the summer months. our high reflective film materials are used for light management to bring natural light into artificial environments.

3M urban tree lounge designboom
detail of the ‘leaves’ made from 3M dichroic film
image © designboom





DB: where does 3M find the insights that fuel the evolution and expansion of its portfolio?


EQ: our #1 source of insight, of course, is always our customers. this is a strategic focus across all disciplines at 3M…whether it’s design, science/technology, or business leadership. we’re fortunate to work within a very innovative culture at 3M, one with a strong heritage of curiosity and passion for problem-solving. so we ask a lot of questions, we observe and listen with intent. finding and transforming insights into meaningful solutions that can be innovated upon is an expectation of every 3Mer every day. in a sense, the expansion of our portfolio is based on collaboration with our customers.

3M design stefano boeri architetti urban tree lounge designboom
an array of 3M dichroic film ‘leaves’ hangs from a reflective canopy




DB: can you talk how 3M balances the amount of scientific research and creativity that goes into developing 3m products, and the importance of sustainability in this process?


EQ: the global brand platform for the company is 3M science. applied to life.™ as an innovation company, science and research are paramount to the success of today and the future of tomorrow; this is an investment our leadership continues to support and build upon. on the journey to make impact around the world, the ‘applied to’ is where design is instrumental, leveraging creativity to enhance competitive advantage and positive outcomes for our customers. sustainability, of course, is a natural part of that. it’s embedded in our brands and our design culture — we’ve been solving customer problems and improving lives for more than 100 years at 3M, whether it’s using science to purify the air you breathe, help produce and deliver cleaner energy, or keep the world’s food supply and hospitals safe. we train our designers specifically on sustainability approaches to be a strong partner in this process.

3M urban tree lounge designboom
a look at the way the ‘leaves’ reflect onto the canopy’s surface
image © designboom




DB: how do you define sustainability at 3M?


EQ: sustainability at 3M is about achieving balance across economic, environmental and social factors while addressing global challenges with one common goal: to improve every life. design plays a critical role in this effort, throughout every phase of development and commercialization. in collaboration with multiple functions across the enterprise, our goals always revolve around making smart choices for process creation, material selection, solutions development, use of resources and so on. in addition, we amplify our approach through customers to support their sustainability challenges as well.

3M design stefano boeri architetti urban tree lounge designboom
up close of the light reflections that bounce off of the canopy
image © designboom




as creative professionals explore milan to connect, learn and be inspired, we want them to know design is integral to everything we do at
3M as an innovation company – how we understand the world around us, identify needs and develop thoughtful solutions that can improve life,says eric quint, 3M chief design officer. ‘our design team thrives on collaboration, so it’s a privilege to work with a partner like stefano boeri whose architectural influence, urban sensibility and sustainable mindset bring design to life.’


eric quint, chief design officer at 3M with architect stefano boeri with the ‘urban tree lounge’



it’s been amazing to work with the 3M design team,’ says stefano boeri, CEO of stefano boeri architetti. ‘thanks to an energizing exchange of ideas, we were able to achieve the goal of creating a conceptual tree that, like an organic one, absorbs, filters and mirrors the sunlight to create a shadow to reflect and recharge. it’s my hope that this prototype can influence creative approach to design in public spaces.’


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