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Welcome to “Das Haus” 2016!

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The new edition of “Das Haus – Interiors on Stage” stands in bold contrast with not only the compact installation from Neri&Hu at the last imm cologne, but in fact also with all living conventions. It is circular, more or less transparent and has almost no solid wall elements. Nonetheless, Sebastian Herkner’s house promises to be a sensual experience – a house that is soft and aromatic, colourful and communicative, and which is able to change its form like a chameleon.

The design is vaguely reminiscent of tent-like yurts or traditional ring architecture in rural China, except that such traditional forms do not consist of transparent, colourfully opaque or perforated foils, industrial textiles and luxurious curtains, but are instead designed to provide more substantial protection against wind and weather, sun and curious glances. This is not the case for “Das Haus” 2016, which will be erected and furnished in January in the middle of hall 2.2 of the Cologne Fair. Here, in contrast, everyone is invited to look, enter, feel, communicate with others, gather impressions and insights.

A house that locks nobody out
Panorama views of the surrounding landscape open up from any position on the various levels of the round living space. If “Das Haus” stood as a glass structure in a park, associations with Japanese pavilion architecture would come to mind. However, in Cologne the visitor won’t have a view of hills, but instead of the “platforms”: a newly designed, open fair landscape with presentations of furniture and living accessories.

This is also the intention of the designer from Offenbach, who, with his vision of open, freer living, also wants to make a statement: a message against the tendency toward isolation. “The transparency of “Das Haus” is an expression of the necessity of facing changes with more openness”. he comments on his concept against the background of the flow of refugees currently presenting a serious societal challenge in Germany.

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A house with many curtains but no drapes
Sebastian Herkner has designed a soft, flowing architecture that plays with light and perspectives, addressing all the senses in the process. An aperture in the suggested roof at the centre, which should act as a kind of inner courtyard and garden, plays an important conceptual role: it is the lively meeting point of the house and represents the core of the onion-like architecture revealed from the inside out. A circumferential, narrow walkway forms the outer layer, the exterior of which is formed by a decorative facade of curtains, specially produced by the exclusive German textiles manufacturer Nya Nordiska, which Herkner and Koelnmesse were able to recruit as a sponsor for this project.

The interior of the house is dominated by textiles and patterns, lighting and light. The furniture selected by Sebastian Herkner for the interior design, in some cases designed by himself, in some cases favourite pieces designed by other designers, stand around freely in the room like on a stage. Bedrooms and bathroom break out of the round theme as the only intimately styled, semi-transparent spatial cube. Many prototypes, exclusive designs and new products presented by Herkner’s industry partners for the first time, including an outdoor collection from Dedon, a room divider from Rosenthal, a chair from Linteloo and lighting from Pulpo, will comfortably and attractively realise his idea of freer living.

“It is important to me that “Das Haus” is really open to all”, the young Offenbach designer explains his decision in favour of a round and accessible house in which the wall elements are replaced by movable curtains. “There are no boundaries, no barriers, no corners on which one can bump into or hide behind. The result is an uncompromising round and open house in which the various levels are accessed by way of a gallery. That was the approach: a (nearly) endless house.

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Sebastian Herkner – the new face of German design
Sebastian Herkner’s extraordinary feeling for material and his original, in spite of its simplicity, curiously enticing form solutions have quickly earned the 34-year-old high international esteem. As a frequent traveller, he gathers impressions, everyday objects and craftsmen’s techniques. Brands like Moroso, Fontana Arte, Sitzfeldt, Very Wood, Sancal, Böwer, Gubi, Leff Amsterdam, Carl Mertens, Pulpo, La Chance, De Vorm, Rosenthal or Nya Nordiska assign him with the task of designing furniture, lighting, tableware and showrooms. He understands how to emphasise the value and character of the material and combine this expediently with craftsmanship and high-tech. Many of his designs that initially caused a stir, above all in the gallery scene, unfold their quality first and foremost using traditional craftsmanship – for example the Bell Table (Classicon), the coloured glass stand of which is still hand-made in Germany.

The designer, who was born in Bad Mergentheim and studied at the University of Art and Design in Offenbach, founded his own studio in Offenbach in 2009. He sharpened his eye for detail during a one-year internship with the fashion label Stella McCartney in London. Since his successful participation in the [d3] design talents contest at imm cologne in 2008 and 2010, he has won numerous prizes awarded by magazines such as Elle Deco and Wallpaper, the red dot design award, the Design Prize of the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Design Award and, most recently, the Interior Innovation Award, also conferred by imm cologne.

Each year the Koelnmesse invites a young, successful designer to present a very personal interpretation of the interior design format “Das Haus”. “We have come a long way with the concept for Das Haus over the past years and have in the process brought a really international spectrum of contemporary design by exceptional, aspiring designers and architects to Cologne,” is how Dick Spierenburg, Creative Director of imm cologne, confidently commented on the success story of the experimental platform that was introduced in 2012. The Dutchman added: “After taking the big step to China last year, we were simply not able to pass by Sebastian Herkner just because he lives more or less around the corner. Herkner’s house is going to be spectacular, because it is going to be totally different again: rich in perspective, unusual and very, very sensual. I am expecting it to be an event that not only attracts the attention of the professional world, but which will also cause a stir on the public days.”

Photos: Lutz Sternstein

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