Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu

Exploring the design landscape with Neri&Hu

As Shanghai-based architecture and design firm Neri&Hu prepares to take to the stage at FIND – Global Summit next month, founders Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu discuss today’s design landscape and how their approach goes beyond what meets the eye.

How would you describe your approach to 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 element for us. We see design as a holistic discipline, taking it from the renaissance notion of seeing design as a multidisciplinary approach.

Does your approach differ for hotels and furniture products?

It is different as the scales, functions, restrictions, users and contexts of these two are not the same. However, no matter whether it is architecture and interior, or product and graphics, in general we see design as not just a tool for creating useful or beautiful things, but as a tool of social change and cultural expression. We also want to challenge the norm, ask questions that have not been asked, and perhaps offer answers that are not the typical. We see a changing world that is moving so rapidly that we often are dumbfounded or numbed about what we see. We live and ask in ways that we are not aware of. We like to use design as a tool for people to question their daily habit, or just simply be aware of what they do and who they are.

What materials do you use to bring your designs to life?

We always feel excited to explore materials that we have not used before. Besides, we often use recycled materials in our projects. For instance, in our project Tsingpu Yangzhou Retreat, we elevated an extremely humble material to create a novel set of spatial vocabularies with tactility by employing recycled bricks as the main construction material. This repurposing of reclaimed materials is not merely an act of sustainability, but also carries the idea of conserving time through conserving the marks of history tectonically on a building’s façade.

The House of Remembrance in Singapore
The House of Remembrance in Singapore | © Fabian Ong

How important is sustainability to your design process?

Sustainability is very important in our work. We have to leave this world a better place for our next generation. We often reuse materials found on site or from other construction debris. Minimising wastage and insisting on quality so that things last longer is not only basic but essential.

Tell us about some of the hospitality projects you are working on…

A hotel in Sanya – a popular resort destination in China – is going to be completed very soon. The design is inspired by the ancient Chinese walled city. We also have ongoing hospitality projects in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Taipei, Minneapolis, Tbilisi and Merano.

The Void, Aranya Art Center in China
The Void, Aranya Art Center in China

How has the pandemic changed the hotel landscape?

If the pandemic has taught us anything, is that it is a luxury itself to be able to commune with nature and be at peace with our environment. As China’s mega cities continue to develop rapidly and dramatically, one of the things that people will desire more than ever is a return to rural environments – to humility, simplicity and purity. This may be something that architects, designers, travellers and even developers would re-ponder.

Will wellness be a driver of change for hotel designs of the future?

They are extremely closely related. We are born into a world with different design qualities, and these qualities speak to our bodies in different ways, and our bodies understand those cues and responds to each in good and bad ways.

What can we expect from Neri&Hu at FIND – Design Fair Asia?

Dialogues. We are hoping that by joining this platform, we will encourage the design community to take some time off from their extremely busy lives to come and discuss issues of design and it’s relevant to our society today.

In partnership together with Fiera Milano, DMG Events will bring together a carefully selected collection of interior brands, key opinion leaders, designers and content from across the globe at the inaugural FIND – Design Fair Asia. The fair is to be held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Singapore from 22-24 September 2022. Visitors, including architects, interior designers, retailers, agents and design-savvy consumers from across Asia, are invited to draw inspiration, network and trade at the new three-day event. It will be a premium, thoughtfully-produced event, offering trend-setting design and a glimpse into the future. Exhibiting brands will be able to leverage global coverage fully to ensure leadership positioning and visibility.

A cornerstone of the fair will be FIND – Global Summit, where FIND Insiders will share their ideas and visions at the Italian Design Futures Capsule, designed by Stefano Boeri. As FIND Insiders, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu are multi-talented designers whose expertise range from architecture to furniture design. The power couple have an admirable reputation for creating contemporary designs and intimate spaces.