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Das Haus 2017: The essence of living

Photo: Koelnmesse, Constantin Meyer
Photo: Koelnmesse, Constantin Meyer

What do we need to live? The design by Todd Bracher, with which the US designer surprised the visitors of the imm cologne 2017 can be reduced down to this simple question. Especially since they still could recall last year’s “Das Haus” with its very different design that confused the senses – full of colours, scents, textile haptics, round in shape, transparent and open on all sides. Whereas Sebastian Herkner demonstrated sensual indulgence recently, Todd Bracher is limiting himself down to the essentials.

The amazing thing about it: Both concepts worked. The visitors accepted Bracher’s idea of a “sustenance house” with interest and growing enthusiasm; hardly anyone who spent time appraising Bracher’s vision of living left the house without the good feeling of having experienced something special. The design of the New York designer namely made it clear in both a sensual and intellectual way, which needs are really essential in daily life and how they can be satisfied in a contemporary form of living.

Photo:  Koelnmesse, Harald Fleissne
Photo: Koelnmesse, Harald Fleissne

The intent and purpose of the design format “Das Haus” is not to newly arrange the furniture of the trade fair, but instead to show the personal visions of living of trendsetting creative minds. And that is precisely what Todd Bracher did. “The organisers and the visitors appreciated the fact that it is not so much about the furniture, but more about the idea of contemplating contemporary forms of living,” said Todd Bracher delighted at the positive feedback he experienced in Cologne. “I heard Scandinavians saying that ‘Das Haus’ feels Scandinavian and Japanese saying that it feels Japanese. That is strange, because for me it is simply human. But since especially the Danes and the Japanese have a very human way of life, which in my opinion we in America are a long way off achieving, that is so to say a sign of intuitive understanding.”

In contrast to the traditional room concept of x bedrooms, a kitchen, hall and bathroom, Bracher is presenting a 3-zone apartment, where the most important functions of each respective room merge into one another: A provisions room with everything a person needs to live in order to nourish the body, mind and soul; a room of peace and retreat where he can reflect about and digest life; and finally a hygiene room that was without further ceremony relocated outdoors, where the person not only encounters himself, but also nature.

Photo: Koelnmesse, Constantin Meyer
Photo: Koelnmesse, Constantin Meyer

From the outside, the 2017 version of “Das Haus – Interiors on Stage” looks like it has clear outlines, looks almost rugged: a house like a castle with just two narrow entrances to the building – a black, hermetic cube construction – that is covered with semi-transparent fabric (Création Baumann). Inside a high room framed with shelves opens up into a bright living ambiance dominated by wood, where everything is gathered together that a person needs for his development: Food, books, cooking utensils, nature study exhibits, souvenirs, art, scientific instruments, toys, tools. Stuffed animals represent the longing of the city dwellers, not to have their impressions of nature limited down to photos, but also to get to know it through direct contact.

Massive Douglas fir panels by Dinesen cover not only the floor of the “house”, but the shelves and walls are actually also made of them too. Finally, in the centre of the room a huge table – a seven metre long kitchen island, created especially for “Das Haus” by Ceasarstone, made out of quartz worktops in the shade “sleek concrete”, accompanied by Todd Bracher’s Alodia stools (Cappellini) and a row of his Dome lamps (Mater), which arouse associations of a library. A room where one can discover the world.

Photo: Koelnmesse, Lutz Sternstein
Photo: Koelnmesse, Lutz Sternstein

“It is a good feeling to be able to give back something to the industry partners in the form of such a project,” was Bracher’s positive résumé about his commitment in Cologne. “It is fascinating being able to feel like part of a big family here, which always meets up again everywhere in the world. Incidentally, in my opinion imm cologne is one of the best organised shows the industry has – it offers a good mixture, is well curated and has positive energy. It is professional and yet nevertheless inviting. Some trade fairs focus totally on the business, others in turn are almost naive in their nature. imm cologne offers a good balance between business and creativity. I am curious to see what subsequently develops as a result of the “Haus”, said Todd Bracher about the trade fair in Cologne.

As lively as the discussions with Todd Bracher may have been in the ‘sustenance’ room – the clear favourite of the visitors was indeed the room of peace, which was reached via a slightly sloping, dark corridor. The wooden walls, that were bright and friendly a second ago, seem to be black and smother the noise and light of the hustle and bustle of the fair. Because Todd Bracher feels that the need for peace and quiet goes beyond simply sleeping, the furniture found here serves relaxation, reflection and daydreaming. And indeed one forgets after a few minutes in the dark room that is only dimly lit by a moon-like shimmering paper ball, a special design by the Italian lamp manufacturer, Davide Groppi, that one is actually inside a house. Not to mention in the midst of a buzzing trade fair.