Baux launch biodegradable acoustical panels made from a new plant-based material

Architectural products brand Baux has worked with a team of scientists specialising in biomimicry to create a line of biodegradable acoustic panels.

Made from a new paper-like, plant-based material, the series of nine panels was developed with Swedish industrial design studio Form Us With Love, in collaboration with scientists from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

Baux biodegradable wall panels

The new chemical-free pulp material is based on over 25 years of research and formed of organically modified cellulosic fibres taken from recycled streams of Swedish pine and spruce trees.

The wood is first broken down into a liquid cellulose form before this pulp is dried out, in a process similar to making paper.

Baux biodegradable wall panels

The wood fibres are then modified to mimic the natural protective properties of various plants such as the fire-retardancy properties of grass roots, the water-repellency of lotus flowers, or the strength of the catalytic combination of potatoes, plant wax and citrus fruits.

Working with the manufacturer, the team initially experimented with mixing in shrimp shells, but these didn’t prove strong enough and they were unable to locate a sustainable supply chain for this ingredient.

Baux biodegradable wall panels

Launched during this week’s Stockholm Design Week, which runs until 10 February, the panels feature one of three patterns that are cut using advanced laser-cutting technology.

The panel with straight indented lines is called Sense, whilst Pulse and Energy both have zig-zagged surfaces.

The laser-cut patterns form nano-perforated surfaces inspired by origami paper-folding techniques that allow sound waves to enter the panels and get trapped in the honeycomb chambers on the back.

Baux biodegradable wall panels

The technology, which was once reserved for aircraft and spaceships, keeps material usage to a minimum and means that no waste or pollution is created during the production process.

Instead of paint, the acoustic pulp is coloured with non-genetically modified wheat bran resulting in a palette of restful neutral colours.

The panels are available in three slightly varying colours that are created by incorporating 30 per cent or five per cent wheat bran, or no bran at all into the pulp.

Next the brand will look into using natural dyes from lingonberries, blueberries and beetroot, or mineral to colour the product.

The team imagines that they will be used for sound-proofing and decoration in communal environments like offices, restaurants, schools and boardrooms.

Baux biodegradable wall panels

“In the face of climate change, environmental pollution, and excessive consumerism, we as an industry can no longer afford to ignore the part we play,” commented Baux CEO Fredrik Franzon.

“Designing and prototyping for the future is not enough. We need to create a sustainable future today. The Acoustic Pulp sound absorbing panel is the result of our deep commitment to this vision.”

Baux biodegradable wall panels

Founded in 2014, Baux is a joint venture by entrepreneurs Johan Ronnestam, Fredrik Franzon, and the founding members of the design studio Form Us With Love, Jonas Pettersson, John Löfgren, and Petrus Palmér.

The founding concept was to take conventional architectural products and make them more visually appealing. Its inaugural product was a type of acoustic panel called wood wool made from spruce wood, cement and water.

Since then, the brand has gone on to produce the wood wool tiles in various different colours, shapes and finishes. In 2017 it released a pattern library of 500 downloadable panel and tile designs for architects and designers.

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Three-pronged Orum Residence by SPF Architects offers sweeping views of Bel Air

California studio SPF Architects has wrapped the top level of this three-winged residence in Bel Air with glazing to provide ample sunlight and views of its hilly surrounds in Los Angeles.

Orum Residence by SPFa

Local firm SPF Architects designed Orum Residence for a hilltop in Bel Air – a neighbourhood located on the west side of the city.

Measuring 18,800 square feet (1,746 square metres), the house comprises three rectangular wings that protrude out in different directions from a central point. The upper level of each is wrapped fully in windows to offer sweeping views of the Los Angeles Basin.

Orum Residence by SPFa

The glass curtain wall was developed by Swiss company Sky-Frame to include five different window widths and four different glass opacities – reflective, opaque, translucent  and clear. This creates a shifting and shimmering exterior.

Orum Residence by SPFa

As well as making the most of vistas, the three-pronged layout also informed the arrangement of the interiors inside the residence, which has two levels above ground and one subterranean and a flat roof.

An entry and living room in one wing, while another wing accommodates a dining table for 10 people, a pantry and a spacious kitchen for the client to entertain guests.

Orum Residence by SPFa

“The client wanted a luxurious house where she could throw large events and host her extended family, but she also wanted it to feel welcoming,” said SPF Architects founder Zoltan E Pali in a project statement. “Our answer was to distribute the programme across three ‘blades’ that radiate from a central node.”

Orum Residence by SPFa

Also on the main level is an outdoor swimming pool and patio designed in a bent shape, flanked by two outdoor lounges.

The third, northern wing houses a five-car garage. A glass-and-steel staircase runs up at the centre of the home, which leads to four bedrooms and bathrooms. Positioning the staircase here is intended to create a central point to solve the vast home’s circulation, and join disparate areas.

Orum Residence by SPFa

Bedrooms, with en-suite bathrooms and walk-in wardrobes, occupy the upper south-west and south-east wings offer 270-degree views of LA and the ocean. There is also a covered terrace that mimics the shape of the angled patio below.

Two smaller bedrooms are housed in the third, northern wing, and nestled into the site’s hillside and garden for a more intimate feel. This portion also houses a five-car garage.

Orum Residence by SPFa

The basement level contains a home theatre, gym, spa, sauna, service kitchen, and a wine room that fits 1000 bottles. A guesthouse with four bedrooms, four baths, a kitchenette and a garage completes the residence.

Bel Air is a residential area in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. It is filled with many luxurious homes including a contemporary villa by SAOTA, a midcentury home with an angular extension by Andrea Lenardin Madden, and one of the most expensive houses in America.

Photography is by Matthew Momberger.

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R&A combines two iconic buildings to create Portland’s Woodlark Hotel

West Coast-based R&A Architecture + Design has fused two buildings on the national historic register in downtown Portland, Oregon, to create a new “house of welcome” for the city.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

Built in 1912, the Woodlark Building was Portland’s first official high-rise and its earliest example of reinforced concrete construction. Its neighbour, the Cornelius Hotel, was built of wood and steel four years prior, and became known as the city’s “house of welcome”. Their recent synthesis has created the 150-room Woodlark Hotel.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

For R&A, adapting the “house of welcome” motto was a natural step, but engineering the two buildings’ physical union proved to be less intuitive.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

“The biggest structural challenge was seismically retrofitting two adjacent 100-plus-year-old buildings with different construction types and non-aligning floor levels,” R&A co-founder and principal Christian Robert told Dezeen. Today, new sets of stairs on each floor internally bridge the two.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

“We followed strict federal, state and local historical guidelines in restoring the structures, including reconstructing the rusted metal detailing on the lower portion of the Cornelius,” Robert continued.

The original wood frame windows were also restored, along with extensive cleaning and repointing of the exterior brick facade.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

The Woodlark Hotel’s design composition points in two directions: one towards Portland’s eclectic spirit – with blue leather, brass accenting, and black lacquer – and the other to the Pacific Northwest wilderness, with raw wood and plant materials. The custom wallpaper by OMFG Co is printed with indigenous flora of the region.

R&A design director Brook Atwood told Dezeen that the goal was to create a unique, mixed material palette that feels “fresh and vintage simultaneously” to spawn a “New Northwest” aesthetic. “Blue tones create a soft backdrop that allows the lush greens, marble surfaces, and aged brass to set the mood,” she said.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

The guest rooms embody “comfortable luxury with a feminine mystique” through custom furnishings, including a marble-topped amenity table, two-toned blue velvet chairs, and handmade Christiane Millinger wool rugs.

Exclusively on the third floor, 20-foot-high (six-metre) ceilings allowed for the inclusion of two-storey loft suites.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

“When combining the two historic buildings, we realised there was the ability to create unique lofts, placing spiral staircases made of black steel and wood, and custom chandeliers within,” said Robert. “Views looking from the mezzanine levels down at the city below offer a special guest experience.”

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

R&A collaborated with Atlanta-based Smith Hanes Studio on the hotel’s ground floor, including its in-house eateries. In the lobby, natural light floods through the wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights in the elevator landing, grounded by black and white penny tiles that transition into grey wood.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

The marble check-in desk winds from the reception area into the hotel’s coffee bar, serving as a countertop for customers. With a grand communal table, hand-curated chairs, and 10-foot indigo leather sofas, the lobby is intended as a felicitous “salon” within Portland’s new “house of welcome”.

The Woodlark Hotel by R&A

The city’s downtown area offers several boutique accommodation options in historic buildings, including a branch of the Ace chain, and The Society Hotel – located in a cast-iron front building, built in 1881.

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Breathing House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is covered with a plant curtain

Vo Trong Nghia Architects has covered the roof and facade of Breathing House in Ho Chi Minh City with a canopy of climbing plants to create private outdoor spaces.

Breathing House occupies a narrow and deep lot within a densely populated neighbourhood that is accessible only via a narrow alleyway.

Breathing House by VTN Architects in Vietnam

Due to the restricted site, the only surfaces that could be opened up were the front, back and top of the building. Each of these surfaces then required what Vo Trong Nghia Architects described as “a green veil” consisting of creeper plants growing on a steel mesh to protect the interior.

The plant curtain ensures the external space and openings to the outdoors are private areas for the occupants to enjoy.

Breathing House by VTN Architects in Vietnam

“This soft layer, as an environmental diffuser, filters direct sunlight and prevents the interior space from overexposure to the outside, without the feeling of isolation,” Vo Trong Nghia Architects explained.

In addition to preventing overlooking, the curtain of plants provides a view of greenery that is visible from every part of the house.

Breathing House by VTN Architects in Vietnam

Planters at the edge of each floor slab combine with galvanised-steel modules to create an outer facade beyond the sliding doors or windows lining the living spaces.

The house has a staggered plan that creates small external spaces described by the architects as “micro voids”. These openings allow natural light and ventilation to reach the open spaces on each level.

Breathing House by VTN Architects in Vietnam

“In the narrow and deep plot shuttered by neighbours on both sides, it is more environmentally effective to promote ventilation for each corner of the house through multiple ‘micro voids’ rather than a singular large courtyard,” the studio said.

These carefully positioned openings create views through the various internal spaces towards the outdoor areas. The staircase also functions as one of the voids, with a roof light and openings onto the living areas allowing daylight to filter through.

Breathing House by VTN Architects in Vietnam

The building is entered through a garage and hall on the ground floor, which also accommodates a guest bedroom with a small courtyard to the rear.

Stairs ascend to a kitchen and dining area on the first floor, which flows seamlessly into the main lounge. The master bedroom is situated on the second floor, with the children’s bedroom on the level above.

Breathing House by VTN Architects in Vietnam

The fourth floor contains a hallways and altar, with access to a rounded terrace. This exterior space is overlooked by a larger roof terrace slotted in beneath the sloping canopy of greenery.

The Breathing House is the latest residential project designed by Nghia’s studio to demonstrate how planting can be integrated into architecture to help mitigate the negative effects of urbanisation.

Previous examples have included a property featuring stacked concrete slabs punctured by voids with trees growing through them, and a home with bamboo-filled concrete planters covering its facade.

Photography is by Hiroyuki Oki.

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This week, David Adjaye spoke to Dezeen at the launch his exhibition

This week, Dezeen interviewed architect David Adjaye at the opening of his Making Memory exhibition, where he said that architects need to work to counter false narratives.

Adjaye, a British-Ghanian architect who was knighted for his work in 2017, was talking about an exhibition of his monuments and memorials at the Design Museum in London, which launched on 1 February.

“I think it’s important for architecture to be one of the devices that’s not about propagating fictions about history,” he said. “When your monuments contradict the narratives that have been projected, it breaks the illusion.”

Gondola by BIG
BIG proposes gondola for its Oakland A’s ballpark redesign

Leading architects to hit the headlines this week included Danish firm BIG, which released visuals of an expansive cable-car system to be built as part of the new baseball stadium in Oakland.

Henning Larsen announced its plans to extend Paris’ largest opera house, the Opéra Bastille, with a new foyer, performance space and workshop.

Snowtopped by Note Design Studio and Tarkett at Stockholm Design Week
Note Design Studio creates artificial snow dunes on rooftop in Stockholm

In Sweden, the annual Stockholm Design Week festival took place. Highlights included Note Design Studio’s snowy rooftop installation and an exhibition of furniture made from recycled materials.

However, behind the scenes it was reported that Chinese designer Neri&Hu considered withdrawing as guest of honour over the “abysmal” build quality of its installation.

Dezeen Awards 2019 launch party in Stockholm
Dezeen Awards 2019 launches with party in Stockholm

Also at Stockholm Design Week Dezeen Awards 2019 launched at a party attended by leading designers including Michael Young, Richard Hutten, Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren.

The party marked Dezeen Awards 2019 opening for entries. Patricia Urquiola, Yves Behar, Frida Escobedo and Kunlé Adeyemi will all be on the awards’ judging panel.

Black 3 by Stuart Semple
Black 3.0 is a “black hole in a bottle” that challenges Anish Kapoor’s Vantablack pigment

Elsewhere, the ongoing feud between the two British artists Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor resurfaced, as Semple released Black 3.0 and banned Kapoor from using it.

Hanson Robotics unveiled AI robot Sophia’s “little sister”. Named Little Sophia, she is intended to help young girls learn to code and gain an understanding of STEM subjects.

Tom Lee Park by Studio Gang
Studio Gang unveils redesign of Memphis waterfront Tom Lee Park

Urbanism also came into the spotlight, as Studio Gang announced its plans to redevelop a 30-acre park as part of its wider masterplan for the Memphis riverfront.

SOM revealed that construction had began on Alárò City, its 2,000 hectare masterplan for southwest Nigeria that will combine a mix of industrial and commercial facilities.

Tiny apartment by A Little Design
A Little Design creates 17.6-square-metre micro flat in Taiwan

Projects that were popular this week included a 17.6-square-metre micro flat in Taiwan, Shigeru Ban’s boutique hotel in Japan, and a renovation of Jørn Utzon’s modernist Ahm House in Hertfordshire.

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Five concrete house in Argentina by Luciano Kruk Arquitectos

Argentinian architect Luciano Kruk is unfaltering in his commitment to rugged and textured concrete. Here are five residences, built among Argentina’s woodlands and sandy dunes, in which the concrete connoisseur champions the material.

Casa H3 concrete house by Luciano Kruk

Casa H3

Board-marked concrete walls wrap around large expanses of glazing to form this two-storey summer house, which Kruk and his studio Luciano Kruk Arquitectos completed in the seaside resort of Mar Azul near Buenos Aires for three sisters.

Pine planks were used to imprint the exterior as a reference to the building’s wooden surroundings, while the concrete is left untreated so it will continue to weather and blend in with the surroundings over the years.

“In its minimum scale the house rises by its own will, but also integrates itself respectfully with its surroundings, both natural and human-built,” said Mariana Piqué from Luciano Kruk Arquitectos.

Casa MR concrete house by Luciano Kruk

Casa MR

Timber slats add warmth to the cast concrete volumes of Casa MR, which is nestled into a vegetated and sandy plot on the Costa Esmeralda.

Kruk split the property into two halves to navigate the slope, using the peak of the sand dune to support one end of the upper storey.

“Seeking to not change in the least the original topography, we decided to split the program into two simple volumes,” he said. “The proposal seeks to preserve the most of the wonderful qualities of the place.”

Casa L4 concrete house by Luciano Kruk
Photograph is by Diego Medina

Casa L4

Designed by Kruk for himself and his girlfriend Ekaterina Künzel, this house features concrete walls, which act as blinkers to large windows that frame views of the trees and dune landscape.

“We agreed that the trees and the terrain’s particular topography were jewels the architectural project should respect,” said Kruk. “We wanted the house to lie amid the woods, surrounded by the place’s immanent atmosphere.”

Another standout feature of the architect’s holiday home is the swimming pool on the roof, marked by a glass volume that protrudes from the top.

Casa SV concrete house by Luciano Kruk

Casa SV

The concrete exterior of Casa SV residence, set among woodland in the coastal town of Pinamar, has begun to weather and stain green in places, matching the hues of the wooden surroundings.

“The aesthetic expression tries to build a relationship with the surrounding landscape, meaning the new construction does not cause a negative visual impact,” said Kruk’s firm.

Also enhancing this connection, two glass walls that flanked either side of the living area to offer tree vistas from the dining and sitting area.

Casa Golf concrete house by Luciano Kruk

Casa Golf

Three volumes are stacked on top of each other to elevate this home above the dunes of a golf course on the country’s coastline, with the grey tones of the board-marked concrete complementing the sandy hues.

“We proposed a house entirely materialised in exposed concrete, whose noble aesthetic expression allows a respectful dialogue with its surroundings,” said Kruk.

The arrangement also informed the layout of the interiors – the main living area is located in the large middle volume, the master bedroom is in the top block, and guest suites are in the bottom.

Photography is by Daniela Mac Adden, unless stated otherwise.

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Synonym cafe features “cosy corners” by Atelier Barda

A counter covered in Max Lamb’s colourful man-made marble provides the focal point of this cafe and bookshop in Hamilton, Canada.

Synonym is a vegetarian and vegan eatery, a coffee shop, a bar and a bookshop located in Hamilton – a small city one hour southwest of Toronto.

Synonym by Atelier Barda

Owners Sid Singh and Ayisha Izmeth worked with Montreal-based architecture studio Atelier Barda to design the 73-square-metre space, which dates back to 1895 and was formerly an art gallery.

“The project’s objective was to create a space that was inherently social to emphasise the utility of a neighbourhood cafe,”  said Atelier Barda and Synonym in a project description. “Soft lines, cosy corners and a focus on lighting have helped create an inviting space that encourages conversation and community.”

Synonym by Atelier Barda

The overhaul involved stripping back black plaster covering the walls to expose existing brickwork underneath. This was then painted white to brighten the interiors, along with wooden floors and ample natural light that enters from two large storefront windows.

“The focus around the project was uncovering the bones of the space and exposing the scars it developed over the 130 years of standing on James Street North,” said the team.

Synonym by Atelier Barda

Complementing these muted tones is the exterior trim, which is coated in an ash-coloured Belgian paint that cafe owner Singh chose from Mjölk store. Located in Toronto, the shop represents work by designers and artisans from Scandinavia and Japan.

Singh also worked with the shop to source all of Synonym’s lighting, accessories and furnishings.

Synonym by Atelier Barda

“White-washed brick walls, muted palette, natural materials like mineral paint, plaster, wood and stone make up the space to draw attention and pay homage to the building’s history, while creating a refreshing respite from the more industrial design of the city,” the team added.

The cafe includes a host of custom furniture, including a bar formed by two rounded, L-shaped volumes. “Atelier Barda helped with the layout and the idea of infusing curves into the space,” Synonym owner Singh told Dezeen.

The bar is topped with a colourful terrazzo-like material by British designer Max Lamb. Called Marmoreal 157 and launched in 2014, the material comprises engineered marble with three different chunks of Italian marble in red, ochre-yellow and intense green hues.

There are also a variety of seating nooks in the cafe, including built-in benches at the front windows and a wood banquette to make the most of the narrow space. All of the built-in seating and tables were made by local woodworker Craig Lee.

Synonym by Atelier Barda

“Each part of the space subtly transitions from one to the other, and draws in soft natural light,” said the description.

Among the decor is a set of black lamps custom-made by Toronto shop Eclectic Revival and a series of chunky, wood T-chairs by Finnish designer Olavi Hänninen.

Synonym by Atelier Barda

Further within the cafe is a communal dining area with a Trestle table by Danish firm Frama and birchwood chair by Finnish modernist Alvar Alto, titled 66 and 69. At the rear is another nook with drawings and photographs almost completely covering the walls, to help make the room more intimate and colourful.

A variety of lights also feature at Synonym. A tubular Eiffel lamp by Frama hangs above the middle dining table. At the bar is a Cestita table lamp by Spanish designer Miguel Milá, made in 1962, and four bulbous Fluid pendant lamps by Swedish studio Claesson Koivisto Rune.

Synonym by Atelier Barda

A collection of homey finishes complete the project, such as a built-in magazine rack with wood shelves, potted plants and vases, framed art on the walls. Shelves for storing wine bottles were built by Toronto woodworker Jeremy Joo.

Atelier Barda was founded by Cécile Combelle and Antonio Di Bacco. It has completed a host of interiors in Montreal, including an office for a fashion company with steely interiors and foliage and a renovated house with soft pink and cream interiors.

Photography is by Brandon Titaro.

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Bandido Studio’s Buna lamp is shaped like a mushroom

The mushroom-like shape of this lamp was chosen by Mexican design studio Bandido after experimenting with a variety of fungi forms.

Puebla City-based Bandido Studio played with different designs that would create the desired diffused lighting effect for the Buna lamp. The team ended up choosing the edible buna-shimeji mushroom as its point of reference.

“Mushrooms were a constant thought to the studio since they are present in diverse ecosystems around Mexico,” said Bandido Studio in a project description.

Buna Lamp by Bandido Studio

“The different forms we can find in the fungi world don’t differ that much from each other since its primary function is to spread the fungi spores.”

Bandido Studio, which was founded by Alejandro Campos and Joel Rojas, tested the effects of various stem and cap shapes on the light source before settling on the design.

The final product comprises a tubular stem that holds a bulb, and an overhanging, curved top that bounces the light down.

“The light it produces is constrained to the mushroom-shaped head,” said the studio. “Nonetheless, it disperses and fills spaces with a discrete and delicate brightness as the main function of mushrooms on their ecosystem.”

In order to create the “soft and rounded shape” like the fungi, the studio chose to make the lamp from metal.

The Buna lamp comes in two colours, including a soft brown that resembles the hues of mushrooms, and “indigo blue”. The cap and stem come in matching tones, but the bottom tip is coloured slightly darker.

Buna Lamp by Bandido Studio

Founded in 2016, Bandido Studio has previously created a folded table lamp and a black table with a droplet-shaped marble base.

The latter was launched during last year’s Design Week Mexico, and formed part of a trend for dark furniture and homeware, along with Davidpompa’s black porous light and Esrawe’s stained black wooden furniture.

Bandido Studio is also among a host of young practices that are emerging and flourishing in Mexico, many of which present work at the annual Inédito exhibition.

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Gucci apologises and discontinues blackface jumper

Fashion house Gucci has discontinued a jumper accused of resembling blackface and apologised for any offence caused.

The balaclava jumper, which is part of the Italian brand’s Autumn Winter 2018 collection, features a black polo neck with a cutout mouth and exaggerated red lips.

Gucci withdrew the jumper from its online and physical stores after social-media users pointed out its resemblance to blackface – a type of theatrical makeup that is often deemed offensive and racist.

Gucci posted apology on Twitter

On Wednesday evening, the brand apologised in a statement on Twitter.

“Gucci deeply apologises for the offence caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores,” it said.

“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”

Balaclava inspired by “vintage ski masks”

The description of the product on Gucci‘s site previously read, “inspired by vintage ski masks, multi-coloured knitted balaclavas walked the runway, adding a mysterious feel to this collection”.

The fashion brand said it will learn from the experience going forward.

“We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organisation and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond,” it said.

Other Italian fashion houses accused of racism

This is not the first time a luxury Italian fashion brand has been accused of blackface. In December, Prada withdrew a series of key rings after accusations that they resembled black monkeys with large, red lips.

In a similar incident, Dolce & Gabbana was forced to postpone a fashion show in Shanghai after a promotional video depicting a Chinese model eating spaghetti with chopsticks was deemed racist, with several retailers withdrawing the brand’s products.

In contrast, luxury brand Vetements’ Spring Summer 2019 collection taught fans the history of ethnic cleansing in Georgia by scanning QR codes incorporated into the items.

Dezeen was not able to reach Gucci for comment.

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Neri&Hu angry about build quality of installation at Stockholm Furniture Fair

Chinese architects Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu say they considered withdrawing as guest of honour at Stockholm Furniture Fair this week over the build quality of their installation.

The Neri&Hu founders said they were “pissed” at the “abysmal” standard of workmanship on the timber installation they designed as the centrepiece for the fair, currently on show in the Swedish capital as part of Stockholm Design Week.

Duo told Swedish newspaper build was “not so good”

The Shanghai duo said they expected the timber construction to be better in Scandinavia, but found a rushed result more akin to production associated with their home country.

They revealed their disappointment in an interview with Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Neri & Hu will be giving the guest of honour lecture at the Stockholm Furniture and Light fair.
Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter they were “pretty upset” by the build of their installation

“We first got pretty upset yesterday when we came here and saw that this construction was not so good,” Neri told the publication.

“We came from China and thought it would be built better in Scandinavia, but then we realised that when you only get four or five days to construct a building, you have also created Chinese production conditions.”

Installation comprises a series of connected rows

Neri&Hu were invited to design the main exhibition as this year’s guest of honour at Stockholm Furniture Fair 2019, held at the Stockholmsmassan convention centre in the Swedish capital.

Called The Unfolding Village, their exhibit features a long structure made from locally sourced timber that is based on the narrow alleyways found in many Chinese villages.

It takes the form of an abstracted pitched roof and is constructed from vertical slats of blackened timber spaced evenly apart.

Neri Hu stockholm The Unfolding Village news
Called The Unfolding Village, the installation was is based on the narrow alleyways found in Chinese villages

Once inside, the visitor follows a continuous winding alleyway through a series of connected rows that together form a “village”. The narrow cul-de-sacs between the rows showcase products designed by Neri&Hu.

The design is intended to encourage visitors to the fair to gossip and eavesdrop, behaviour common to clan-based village life, and at the same time to draw attention to the issue of disappearing villages and village culture in China.

Construction was still underway day before opening

Neri and Hu told Dagens Nyheter that their concerns were raised when they arrived on Sunday 3 February – the day before the fair’s opening. Due to the fairly intricate design, they were worried that the build would have to be rushed to finish in time.

“What determines the quality of construction is really not so much if the building takes place in the east or in the west, but how much time you get to build,” Neri told Dagens Nyheter.

The architect repeated his concerns while speaking on a panel discussion at the fair, describing the construction quality as “abysmal” and saying the duo thought about walking away from the project. “We were really pissed,” he said.

Adjustments were made to satisfy architects

However a spokesperson for the fair has dismissed the claims. She insisted that Neri and Hu arrived on Saturday rather than Sunday, and that everyone was happy with the results by the time the fair opened.

“Neri&Hu arrived on Saturday when we were still building the exhibition, so the installation was not yet completed when they arrived at the fair,” said project area manager Cecilia Nyberg.

“It was four days until the fair should open, so that’s why it wasn’t ready. So they expressed when they saw it, when it wasn’t ready, that they weren’t satisfied. But during the Sunday and Monday, we worked together to complete the installation. We understood that they were satisfied when we opened on Tuesday.”

Neri Hu stockholm The Unfolding Village news
The project is the result of Neri&Hu’s research into the disappearing villages of China

Nyberg said she received positive feedback about the installation, which drew favourable comparisons with Nendo’s white laser-cut guest of honour installation six years ago. She suggested it was the best guest-of-honour installation the fair had ever had.

“I think it’s lovely and I’ve had contact with a lot of important people in the industry and they think it’s the best guest of honour installation we’ve had,” she said.

“Many people said that the Nendo installation in 2013 was fantastic because it was beautiful for the eye, but I now I heard people say this is the best installation. We are very pleased.”

Installation explores disappearing villages of China

The Unfolding Village is the result of Neri&Hu’s research into the disappearing villages of China. Between 2000 and 2010 urban land in China expanded by 83 per cent, and the urban population grew by 45 per cent.

In the same period, the number of villages fell from 3.7 million to 2.6 million, an average rate of 300 villages lost per day. By 2020, 60 per cent of China’s population – approximately 800 million people – will be living in an urban environment.

The Chinese designers explained the design and concept in a talk with Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs, which is available is available to watch in full.

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