There might be no place like home, but what does it look like? At each point in history, the domestic realm reflects the moment’s cultural, economic and technological context. So what kind of home results from the constant flux that characterizes this time period? The image of domesticity in today’s modern cities has changed drastically, now that space has become a luxury and multi-functionality has become a necessity. In two recent design festivals, several architects have taken on this issue and the inherent challenges by building their own interpretations of the contemporary home.
Interieur 2014, curated by Joseph Grima, took place from October 17 to 26 in Kortrijk, Belgium. Grima, with the help of his research collective, Space Caviar, aspired to explore the evolving nature of the home under the rubrick “The Home Does Not Exist.” Presented in a derelict school building, the festival’s feature exhibition introduces contemporary design challenges with the installation The Quantified Home. Stencilled red text on walls and in cupboards tells the story of the home over the past 150 years in facts and quotes. A series of architectural interventions created a pathway through the building and graphically represented data about domestic issues in relation to technological developments, economic shifts and globalization. What are the potential ramifications of an Airbnb economy and the proliferation of sharing and renting space? A rooftop graph shows the increasing number of annual users of Airbnb since it was created. A patio divided into a paved area and an earthen one covered in leaves forms a diagram for cost of living. The leaf-strewn rectangle shows how much land could be purchased in Cairo for a certain amount of money, compared to a smaller leaf pile that represents how much the same amount could get you in London. The timeline climaxes with Roomba Ballet: a performance of robotic vacuum cleaners programmed to perform the Viennese Waltz in the school’s gymnasium.
In the London Design Festival 2014 this September, Airbnb sponsored A Place Called Home, an exhibition featuring the work of four well-known designers who interpreted the concept of home. Jasper Morrison, a British designer, invented a home based on a pigeon fancier, taking inspiration from Trafalgar Square and its denizens. Ilse Crawford of Studioilse, sees the importance of the interior, as a framework of how we live. Her design fiercely interrogated, “what is home?”. Crawford curated the interior with projections of daily rituals on the walls accompanied by a sound track of the home ( a whistling tea kettle, the slamming of doors). Raw Edges, another London design studio, formed a flexible space that can be transformed with the turn of a handle. Different panels move to hide or reveal the rooms, depending on the need for privacy.
As evidenced by these projects, the house (and home) is not what it used to be. That nostalgic image has melted away like the two story brick house made of wax that was built in the center of London by British artist Alex Chinneck. Since September, this structure has been slowly turning into a drip castle.