Neri&Hu Design and Research Office is an interdisciplinary studio for architecture, product design, interior design and graphic design based in Shanghai. Founded in 2004 by partners Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, the office operates worldwide. The creative dynamic and the growth of the city are reflected in the productivity, the objectives and the flat hierarchies of the 100-strong team at NHRDO. The office has long since expanded beyond mere architecture and deals with the whole spectrum of design requirements of Human-Product-Architecture-City. Perhaps that is also why Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu are among the most influential forces in Chinese design today.
Both architects began their studies at Berkeley, California. Neri then continued his education with a Masters from Harvard. For more than ten years, he was partner and project leader for Asia at Michael Graves & Associates in Princeton and worked for a variety of architectural offices in New York. Hu continued her education with a Masters in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton and worked also in the architectural office of Michael Graves & Associate. In addition, she worked for Ralph Lerner, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in New York City and the Architects Collaborative in San Francisco.
Both architects are also successful designers and have developed designs for several European firms like Moooi, Lema, BD Barcelona, Classicon, Gandia Blasco and Meritalia. They have also received a variety of international awards for their own product line which they developed and brought out under the name Neri & Hu. Both partners have taken up teaching assignments at the University of Hong Kong, Princeton and Harvard and are engaged in the discourse concerning the challenges for urban planning presented by large Chinese cities, which is the theme of their book â€œPersistence of Visionâ€œ.
Their architecture seems like a synthesis of traditional elements and the spatial concepts of classic modernism, which is also reflected in eclectic statements such as Chinese wooden windows or Mies van der Rohre columns. A central milestone in their work to date is the Waterhouse Boutique Hotel in the South Bund District of Shanghai, completed in 2010. It is located directly on the newly designed docks and was integrated into an old building â€“ a 1930â€™s administrative building of the Japanese army â€“ with a completely new interior.
In regard to the problem of the unplanned building boom in China, and in Shanghai in particular, which sees old buildings thoughtlessly being replaced with faceless new ones, Neri&Hu appeal for more awareness in dealing with architecture and design. Within their projects, they purposefully seek the confrontation with design in practice and design in theory. In everything they do one can sense the will to communicate, to find common ground for an exchange about design.
Therefore, â€œDas Haus – Interiors on Stageâ€œ is the ideal platform for Neri&Hu to bring the discourse, which has so far mainly been conducted from West, a eastern perspective. For Neri&Hu, the individualistic West represents the conscious implementation of traditional as well as innovative design, but also the bureaucratisation of creative processes. On the other hand, the chaos which reigns in Shanghai appears to have been processed in their work, has an inspirational effect and holds tremendous opportunities for renewal for both worlds.
Photo: Neri&Hu, koelnmesse