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Interview with Doshi Levien about
“Das Haus – Interiors on Stage” (Part II)

How did you proceed with the design for the imm cologne?

Nipa Doshi: We worked with intersecting volumes of the kind you might find in industrial buildings to create fragmented spaces. For the structuring elements, we’re thinking of walls with different degrees of transparency and frames with mesh-like coverings, rather like Indian jalis. The spaces are connected via windows, and there are steps that lead down from various living levels to a central courtyard.

The model certainly shows a very open spatial structure, arranged around a partially planted courtyard in the middle. Isn’t there any privacy in your vision of an ideal interior?

Nipa Doshi: A house isn’t necessarily about creating privacy for the people who live in it. It’s about creating a microcosm in which all the spaces are interconnected. It’s an inner world. In this house, you really do face inside from wherever you happen to be, towards the courtyard where the dining table is and all the activities of the house converge. There are benches and daybeds with visual links to the courtyard all over the place, but hardly any views out into the world – with the exception of the workshop, which in turn is connected with the courtyard via the kitchen, or the bedroom, where you can lie in bed and look at the sky through the window. The individual spaces aren’t actually all that different from one another.

Jonathan Levien: But they’re all connected by the central space, which is inside and outside at the same time. This is where the family meets, this is where you get together with friends, there’s a wellness area and a salon next to it for lounging around in.

How do visitors access the house?

Nipa Doshi: If you enter via the courtyard entrance, which is almost like a passageway between two houses, you get a totally different impression than if you enter via the higher entrance on the veranda level, from which you have direct access to the living level. There are various journeys you can take through the house, all of them very different.

Jonathan Levien: Our design for “Das Haus” is the result of a long discussion about how we want to live. First and foremost, our house is about the social dynamic within the living space, about the relationships between the spaces, functions and activities.

Nipa Doshi: Why for instance shouldn’t you be able to watch someone having a shower in the spa while you’re sitting in the salon? For us, wellness is a means to physical wellbeing, which means it has to do with bathing and the kitchen as well, and that’s why there’s a direct link between these spaces and a shared cabinet.

Between the bathroom and the kitchen?

Nipa Doshi: Many of the things we eat are actually very good for your skin too. It’s also a proposal for sustainability in the way we use things: when it comes to skin care, it doesn’t always have to be a brand-name product. Or take the bedroom space, for instance: we like the idea that the entire bedroom could be a bed – which turns the bed into a kind of platform. And why shouldn’t the bedroom be used during the day as well? Maybe as a place for intimate socialising or laying out your clothes.

Isn’t there any furniture in your house?

Nipa Doshi: Of course – there will be lots of our furniture designs in the house, like the Charpoy daybed or the My Beautiful Backside sofa, as well as several products designed by other people. On top of that, there will be a few specially designed pieces that we need in order to translate our ideas into reality. For example a cabinet for all your new clothes and textiles that will link the salon with the bedroom. A place for showing-off together.

Providing space for the various elements of everyday life: is that the underlying principle?

Nipa Doshi: Exactly. We like the idea of being able to bathe outdoors, for instance. There’s a shower, another pipe for washing your feet and another for watering the plants. So it becomes a source of water rather than just a place to bathe.

And the kitchen? Are you planning to install a smart fitted kitchen?

Nipa Doshi: No, what we’ve got in mind is more like a market kitchen, a sort of naked space that’s full of equipment and food, an explosion of activity. And the kitchen is linked to the workshop, which isn’t necessarily just a place for making things, it’s also a place where the kids can play and the family can get together to do activities. Maybe it could even be used as a shop where you sell the things you make in your house. Our vision of living doesn’t just include calm spaces, it also envisages places and times of real intensity within the house.

Jonathan Levien: For us it’s important to challenge the cliché notions of what is a bedroom, what is a kitchen, what is a bathroom. In every part of the house, we’re bringing together and connecting the different areas of the home and redefining what they could be and how they could be used.

So “Das Haus” shows how various areas of the home are merging into something new?

Jonathan Levien: Exactly. And in such a way that it seems totally natural and yet is still quite unexpected.

Nipa Doshi: We want “Das Haus” to be a very evocative space that will get people thinking. Architecture can either move you or leave you completely cold. I like the idea that our house will be sensual and layered – rooted in reality but closer to what I want than to the notion of a perfect house. Our idea of a perfect house is one that is never complete.

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