Neri&Hu interview

You have just launched, at Salone del Mobile in Milan, a collection manufactured by GAN, called LAN. You had already collaborated with GANDIABLASCO, GAN’s parent company, with the Jian collection. How different was the experience working with GAN, and in what way?
Culturally very relaxing and full of energy.

What can you tell us about LAN?
Neri&Hu questions the sofa typology by breaking apart the normally bulky and cumbersome furniture into its components, which can be reassembled into flexible parts. The backrest element draws from the origins of GAN as a textile brand, by referencing old style weaving looms. The vertical structure allows handmade fabrics to be hung as a backdrop, while an elastic woven strap provides support for the moveable back cushions. The seat element is also composed of separate cushions, as well as a small wooden surface which can act as a small side table or tray, each interchangeable for various configurations.

As a practice, your projects cover industrial design, interiors and branding as well as architecture. Given that an architectural or interior project is always bespoke what is the difference in your approach to product design which by its nature is universal?
Our products often are a by-product of our architectural projects.

As architects your work is very ‘rational’, its formal expression relies on geometry and order. Do you think your industrial design work is influenced by your architectural projects? And if so how?
Our industrial design is influenced by our architecture vigor in that we are interested in the tectonic quality of each product we design.
Interdisciplinary research is part of our design process. It is intrinsically intertwined with every project from the start. Architecture is still the foundation from which we do everything, so it is the most important for us. We see design as a holistic discipline, taking it from the renaissance notion of seeing design as a multidisciplinary approach.

The Neri&Hu heritage stretches from Asia to the United States, do you think that nowadays we can talk about a different design sensibility between East and West? And if so how would you define in a few words that difference?
The biggest difference is the importance of community in Asia and the importance of independent voice in America.

Up until the GAN Spaces concept was developed, which started with the Mangas collection created by Patricia Urquiola, GAN only made rugs. Mangas provided 3D volume but kept its focus on rugs, however in your new collection LAN the balance between volume and rug is more equal. Does this reflect a specifically Asian understanding of interior design?
Absolutely. The notion of layering to create spatial depth is very important to us.

Can you describe how you use materials in your collection? And specifically, what kind of research or innovation, if any you carry out when commissioned to design a collection such as this?
It is important to know the technique and the limitation of the product we are working on. In this collection we asked for many samples of capabilities of the rug makers to insure we get the best result.

You have described your work as a transition or a bridge between the past and the future, rooted in the present day. Are you optimistic about the future?
Very optimistic.

Where do you consider home in the world? And can you tell us something about its design, some favourite pieces of art or design that you find inspirational?
Home is when I am with my family.