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A Miami Home Away from Home

Dec 11, 2017

As a collaboration with Airbnb, Belgian duo Muller Van Severen launched an interactive installation during Design Miami, based on the concept of the shared home

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Text by Rab Messina
Photography by Elizabeth Lippman

Designers Muller Van Severen gave Design Miami visitors an opportunity to make themselves at home in their own home. Well, almost: the duo created an immersive installation recreating their own living room, where guests could sit on the furniture, read books and listen to music.

The setup is titled A Wild Thing, after a Hilde Bouchez book that describes the elusive qualities in everyday objects –which, in turn, the duo has named “wild things.” And rightly so: some of the pieces in the room whispered their “personal” stories via directional sound speakers.

For example, there was a painting by Hannes Van Severen’s grandfather, artist Dan Van Severen. A sculpture by Fien Muller’s father Koen Muller, as well as furniture designed by the duo and souvenirs from past travels and experiences, were placed along with a chair made by the couple’s young daughter. The goal? Providing a better understanding of their family stories, their daily routines and their network of friends… just like the experience of visiting someone’s abode for the first time.

“We all love to wander through the homes of unknown people,” explained Van Severen. “The invisible threads between all the objects whisper the secrets of the owners into our soul. Through the objects, interconnectivity is materialised. We feel as if we know this people, as if we linger through their most private chambers of life.”

“With our project, we wanted to illustrate the invisible connection between the owner and the visitor,” added Fien Muller. “The latter discovers a new universe, a different life and yet so similar to that of his own. Spending time in someone else’s home is often a totally different experience than the homes presented in glossy magazines.”

And just how committed were the duo to allowing visitors to discover their universe? Very: while Muller and Van Severen were presenting the installation in Miami, the real thing, back home in Ghent, was being shared on Airbnb.

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