By Kenza van Lerberghe for IROCO Design.
If you haven’t heard about them before, remember the names Neri & Hu, both Chinese architects based in Shanghai. For over a decade have they caught the attention and have they established collaborations on numerous product design and interior design projects around the globe with reknown brands such DeLaEspada, Moooi and the Starwood Hotel Group amongst many others. Their interior design endeavors vary from restaurants and retail spaces to private homes while the product design encompasses table-ware, furniture and décor objects.
They both count on an impressive track record prior to starting their company in 2004: Lyndon Neri has a Master of Architecture from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. He was the Director for Projects in Asia and an Associate for Michael Graves & Associates in Princeton for over 10 years and also worked in New York for various architectural firms.
Rossana Hu has a Master of Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Music from the University of California at Berkeley. Hu worked for Michael Graves & Associates, Ralph Lerner Architect in Princeton, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in New York, and The Architects Collaborative (TAC) in San Francisco.
No wonder they have been nominated the designers of the year… here are a few of their creations:
They also seek to work on projects that involve a deeper meaning, understanding and view on our current society and its values. One of them is called ‘Feeling Good in Architecture’ which took off during the Inside Festival in Singapore last year. The aim of the project is to question whether it’s viable or relevant to feel good – it’s not about coming to a pretty space and feeling great; for a change it can be about coming to a space where the passage of discovery may lead you to feeling bad, whose impact could be greater than feeling good – says Hu.
The redevelopment of a former Japanese army barracks in Shanghai is a good example of this, the hotel features much of the original building's exposed concrete and brickwork.
When you walk into the lobby most people are surprised by the roughness and the rawness of that space. So that does not necessarily make people feel good, but it makes people question "Where am I? What am I looking at? What is the history of this building?"
It brings another layer to the value of design.
In the same line, they showcased another installation in collaboration with Das Haus at IMM Cologne 2015. It showcased their vision for the home of the future, overfilled with furniture – questioning the way people populate their homes with furniture and objects. Instead of just looking forward, Lyndon Neri and Rosanna Hu wanted to draw a comparison between past and prospective living environments – using their home city of Shanghai as an example.
The idea was to challenge visitors so that they don't just see a trade fair with the most beautiful furniture and the best materials, but really begin to question where we stand today – especially with regards to China, raising questions such as “Are we using furniture in the right way? How much do we need? And what is it really, the home?”
You can find out more by visiting their website http://en.neriandhu.com/