Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
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The Chinese design duo creates a cozy and whimsical 'house' for this year's trade show

As tradition stands, IMM Cologne annually nominates a new designer to create a “house in a house” in the Pure Village hall. A grandiose space of 240 m² welcomes furniture, colors, materials, lighting and accessories by the chosen Guest of Honor. This year they welcomed architects Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu from Neri&Hu Design and Research Office based in Shanghai. The decision was supported by the couples’ award winning work, having been nominated by UK Wallpaper as Designer of the Year for 2014. They were also inducted into the U.S. Interior Design Hall of Fame in 2013 and have been recognized by a number of prestigious international design awards like INSIDE Festival, AR House Awards, AR Awards for Emerging Architecture, World Architecture Festival, Design Vanguard, I.D. Magazine Annual Design Review, Red Dot Awards, The Great Indoors Awards, etc.

The ‘Das Haus—Interiors on Stage” at IMM Cologne is designed to demonstrate a reflection on the future, architecturally speaking. Neri&Hu believe one must first look into the past before understanding the future, thus their concept of the ‘Memory Lane’. “The building blocks of our psychological and emotional lives are the layers of memory that make us who we are. Inevitably and eventually, our spatial existence is defined by the intersection of our physical encounters and those which remain in our memory as shadows that follow our bodies.” Their work portrays the beautiful creation of a world where one’s own personality is expressed, while offering viewers the opportunity to think.

Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec’s L’Oiseau for Vitra was placed around the house in different rooms. This bird holds the key to the architects mindful planning of the Das Haus. They began their outline by questioning the notion of what product is today. Are the seats we sit on really serving us or are we serving them? Some people purchase products, like a chair, for the sense of object, where the chair is not actually to sit on but sits unused. The chair is there to be admired and so it remains for ten years, collecting dust and being idolized, and becomes a sort of classic, a beautiful piece. Neri and Hu ask us if the bird inside is free or if the bird inside that we’re constantly feeding makes us a slave to the bird.

The amazing results of their partnership make them a power couple to say the least; the Das Haus alone proves this. It’s always interesting to find out more about how a ‘couple’ functions while working together. As they spoke of how they conceived the Das Haus during the press interview, they were asked about their design process in general. Do they always begin with words, with thought, before going into the drawing phase? “She starts with words. I cannot stand words, so I draw.” Hu takes a word, Neri takes a drawing and they meld them together. “We’re very different,” Hu stated. “He’s more of an emotional person and I’m more of a logical person. So when it comes to approaching design at work, he’s all about the emotion and I’m all about the precision.”

If designer couples peak your interest, you’ll want to take a look at the latest edition of our e-magazine where we go behind the scenes of four designer couple studios.