Today’s keynote lecture at INSIDE was delivered by Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, the founding partners behind Shanghai-based practice Neri&Hu Design. Introduced by festival director Nigel Coates as “some of my favourite people in the world”, they began their talk by outlining that their presentation would be more about influences than their own work.
Called 3x3x3, the talk was oriented around three artists that have shaped their thinking, three architects that have inspired their work and three of their projects that represent all these ideals. Neri&Hu confessed that their obsession with voyeurism stems from the intimate rooms created by artist Louise Bourgeois, spaces that make you question what happens behind closed doors. Meanwhile, Philip Dujardin and Magritte were cited as key influencers to question the perception and representation of images.
The three architects that have most affected these doyens of Chinese design are Le Corbusier, Pierre Chareau and Carlo Scarpa. Nigel Coates questioned their love of the former as he represents absolute modernity while their work so readily embraces the past. However, they argued he is their “modern side”. They claimed that Chareau was pivotal in making them realise that architecture can be read as furniture while Scarpa is the master of detailing.
The projects revealed that sum up these ideals were: the Waterhouse at South Bund, a hotel that gives glimpses of the ‘real’ Shanghai; the Design Republic Design Commune, a renovation of Shanghai’s colonial past into a hub for its future design community; and the Wild Beast Picnic Basket, an object that uses modern methods of manufacture but captures the essence of the traditional Asian lunchbox.