As someone who’s been lucky enough to cover IMM Cologne, the furniture fair that takes place every January in the German city, one of my favourite memories is of walking through the Ideal Houses created by Zaha Hadid and Naoto Fukasawa in 2007. The two installations could not be more different – Hadid presented a swooshing white-plastic interior carved out of a box, and Fukasawa erected a sober arrangement of towering walls.
The contrast was deliberate. In prior years, the fair pitted various members of the design elite against each other in good-humoured contests: Patricia Urquiola versus Hella Jongerius; Konstantin Grcic versus Karim Rashid; and old master Dieter Rams against three young creators: Astrid Krogh, Stefan Diez and Joris Laarman. Ambitious and inspiring, the Ideal Houses, along with recurring features d3 Design Talents and Interior Trends, elevated the fair above a platform for product launches.
After four years in absentia, the feature returns in 2012, under the creative direction of IMM’s Dick Spierenburg. But it does so in a far more accessible platform that might resonate much more deeply in the current economic climate. Instead of contrasting two high-brow concepts, IMM is presenting “Das Haus” – a personal living space by London studio Doshi Levien. According to the press release, “Visitors will be presented with the scenography of a home – not a sleek and glossy ‘designer home,’ but the home of a designer. It’s a designer portrait and a visionary blueprint, an example of how it is possible to create a world of one’s own that becomes an expression of one’s own personality.” In other words, it’s geared to a consumer audience as much as it is to designers.
Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien’s house promises to be a rich experience. The husband-wife duo’s repertoire includes the My Beautiful Backside sofa and Paper Planes seating for Moroso as well as the Kali bathware for Authentics. They also created the Mosaic cookware range for Tefal, which infuses tajines, karhais and woks with brilliant colour and playful design. In and of themselves, each piece mixes and melds folk and pop iconography with meticulous detailing, and handmade craft with top-end manufacturing.
Their vision, which they’ve also recreated in such installations as My World, is ripe for exploring in a 180-square-meeting setting. And they will also supplement their own work with products from the show floor. In so doing, they demonstrate how an interior can be built out of the stuff on one’s own character and individuality.
IMM Cologne takes place January 16 to 22, 2012 at the Koelnmesse fairgrounds.