Chairs, chairs, and more chairs. Browse any design fair, and sooner or later you’re asking yourself whether we really need all this stuff. At IMM Cologne, Neri&Hu’s Das Haus – the fourth in a fascinating series, each by a different designer or studio – set us to wondering whether an inundation of new products actually makes the world a better place. At first glance, the Shanghai-based design firm’s home-like installation resembled a showcase of new and old designs, but those willing to look twice perceived an 'unsettling, and hopefully subversive commentary on excessive and obsessive consumerism'.
Salient detail: Das Haus was furnished in part by prototypes that Neri&Hu would be happy to see manufactured and marketed. 'Our goal was to communicate on different levels,' says Rossana Hu. 'As we are part of the industry, we question our own value, too. New things need to be meaningful; otherwise everything will be very short-lived.' Neri&Hu frequently includes aspects of Shanghai in its work, and the project for IMM Cologne was no exception. Enlarged street scenes printed on canvas appeared as wallpaper in various rooms. A raised walkway and openings, like peepholes, referenced the urban fabric of Shanghai, with its characteristic alleys and building typologies.
Das Haus did not offer a quick and easy recipe for dealing with the flood of products and information that is overwhelming modern society. But any cook worth her salt can combine old and new, add a pinch of what she sees happening around her, and come up with a surprisingly scrumptious – and meaningful – meal.