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Neri&Hu Are Bringing Rural China to Stockholm

We catch up with award-winning design studio Neri&Hu to discuss their upcoming installation as Guest of Honor at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, 2019

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Images Courtesy of Neri&Hu

From February 5-9 Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2019 will gather over 700 companies to fill the Stockholmsmässan in a celebration of Scandinavian Design. This year’s edition of the fair includes around 80% exhibiting companies from the Nordic region but also shines a light on international practitioners, manufacturers and creatives.

Bringing together a variety of spaces, exhibitions and events, the fair offers a versatile collection of things to do and see including:
Temperament, an area that investigates current trends in the home and in public spacess from the perspective of a creative practitioner—this year, set designer Sahara Widoff will share her insights.

NM & A is a new exhibition of the fair that looks into the interior design of restaurants; the Stockholm Design & Architecture talks, which seek to create knowledge and discussion around this years talk theme ‘Challenges for the Future’ by digging into the minds of guests such as Joel Sanders, Tom Dixon, Matali Crasset, Sabine Marcelis and David Thulstrup

The Born Classic award and Editors Choice awards that highlight exciting works on show

Greenhouse which exhibits new talent that has been selected by a jury. Visitors will see products from 37 designers/design groups and 29 design schools from 20 countries.

Last but not least is the Guest of Honor for 2019’s fair Neri&Hu. The award-winning Chinese design and architecture office run by Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu has created a spatial installation that highlights social issues that are unique to China, bringing these issues to an international audience.

We catch up with Neri&Hu to discover more about what visitors can expect from their space at Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair:

TLmag:Your practice is heavily research-based, what did the research process for your installation at the fair involve?
Neri&Hu: For this project, we did background research on the issue of disappearing villages. In the early concept phase, we looked at quantitative facts. As we developed the design, we wanted to move beyond facts and create a personal connection between the visitor and the topic of village/rural life. We looked at Chinese prose written about village life and selected some excerpts to be displayed on wall panels throughout to help the visitor psychologically connect to the sentiment of a village dweller.

Why do you think spreading the message of the disappearing villages in China at an event such as the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair is important?
For the Guest of Honour exhibition, we saw it as an opportunity to highlight some pressing issues unique to our practice, which is mainly situated in China. Although we operate out of Shanghai, a bustling metropolis, in recent years we have made the conscious decision to take on more projects in rural contexts.

So much of Chinese tradition and culture comes from rural roots and the notion of family and “jia” or “home.” Practicing architecture in China we witness firsthand how rapid development and urbanization has changed not only the spatial fabric of cities but how these spatial changes have a direct impact on human interaction, communal relationships and social networks.

What do you hope people will take away from experiencing your installation?
We hope the exhibition really becomes a forum for the spontaneous events of gossip, voyeurism and informal exchanges between fair goers and that in the end, the visitors remember not only the curated design pieces on display but also the human connections they made at the fair.

What challenges did you face in realizing this project?
The main challenges were to realize the original design intent within the limited budget provided and ensure that the exhibition could be constructed out of prefabricated components. We had to adapt the geometry of the end profiles of the “alleys” from a curved to straight geometry to allow for faster installation. We also wanted the “unfolding village” to take on a more abstract silhouette and it took some coordination between the team in Sweden and design team in Shanghai to find the right oil stain for the pine wood.

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2019 will run from February 5-9

Cover image: Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu of Neri&Hu.
Photography by Zhu Hai



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