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Neri&Hu installs ‘The Hearth’ within Valcucine’s showroom in Milan
The Hearth by Neri&Hu
Video: Courtesy of STIR

Neri&Hu installs ‘The Hearth’ within Valcucine’s showroom in Milan

The Chinese architecture studio configured a kitchen system in response to Valcucine’s theme of Architectural Scenarios within Brera Design District during Milan Design Week.

by Almas Sadique
Published on : May 06, 2024

At the recently concluded Milan Design Week 2024, Shanghai-based Neri&Hu Design and Research Office showcased The Hearth, an installation visualised for and with luxury kitchen brand Valcucine. This installation was part of the Italian brand’s collective exhibition stationed within Brera Design District in Milan, Italy. Valcucine’s wide range of kitchen systems highlight ‘creative talent, eclectic design, technical expertise, technological innovation, and environmental respect in the idea of a kitchen space increasingly integrated with architecture towards a dynamic and flexible home.’ Entitled Architectural Scenarios, the collective exhibition, open from April 15 to 21, 2024, at the brand’s flagship store in Milan, served as the reimagination of an environment of conviviality.

“Architectural Scenarios is the sublimation of shared ideals and values of beauty, expressiveness, sustainability, and technological innovation, culminating in a unique and tangible experience of integration between design and architecture,” an excerpt from the press release mentions. The event took place in conjunction with Milan Design Week 2024 and Eurocucina and included the integration and celebration of kitchens designed by Valcucine designer and founder Gabriele Centazzo, and the visions of three architecture and interior design studios—i29, ARRCC, and Neri&Hu. “Different scenarios designed by the eclectic triptych bring the concept of experiential luxury into the world of design through settings that bring Valcucine's infinite compositional flexibility into dialogue with different architectures, cultures or stylistic figures,” the brand states.

Neri&Hu’s showcase, The Hearth, stationed within the brand’s Milanese store, delved into an exploration of the duality between Chinese traditions and modernity. Undertaken by Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, the installation was designed on the idea of fragmenting complementary spaces such that they can enhance intimate interactions and present ample opportunities for desired change through customisation. In conversation with STIR in Milan, Maurizio Vianello (CEO, Valcucine), Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu delineated the experience of collaborating on the creation of The Hearth.

The collaboration with Neri&Hu dramatically changed the road map of the product. – Maurizio Vianello

The Chinese architecture studio utilised products and elements from the Artematica collection, designed by Gabriele Centazzo, to furnish the space. Some of these include dish racks, hidden drawers, glass drainers of varying sizes, storage trays with sponge drainer function, rotating containers to store jars, wooden shelves with bottle holders and pantry space, modular system with electrified track that allows portable management of electric current, and preparation kits comprising two cutting boards, knife holders and rolling pin.

The vision for Neri&Hu’s showcase is apparent from the title of the project—The Hearth. Through both the space design and its title, the Chinese designers place the kitchen at the centre of domestic life—as a reassuring space, a hearth, a spatial metaphor for warmth and conviviality. By affixing movable screens that can cover the storage spaces when not in use, the designers further ensure the usage of the counter space as an area for communal gatherings.

Cooking should be dirty and messy. A system like this allows you to be messy and then clean up quickly. – Rossana Hu

In order to make space for both kitchen-based activities and its positioning as the hearth of the house, the Chinese architects lent a dual quality to the kitchen design. One part of the installation is public in nature, with the kitchen counter sitting in a plaza-style space. A more private kitchen space is reserved within a wooden structure. “One extroverted and the other more introverted but both symbolising home and shelter,” reads an excerpt from the press release. While the introverted structure features black stained wooden louvres with folding and diagonal planes, the publicly configured kitchen hosts a central communal table surrounded by wooden stools. Both these spaces, with their distinct personalities, are designed to serve as the hearth of the house, wherein the intimate aspects of people’s daily lives can manifest.

‘The Hearth’ was on view from April 15 - 21, 2024, during Milan Design Week 2024, at the Valcucine flagship store at Corso Garibaldi 99, Milan, Italy.

Click on the banner video to view the interview with Maurizio Vianello, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu.

Stay tuned to STIR's coverage of Milan Design Week 2024 which showcases the best of exhibitions, studios, designers, installations, brands and events to look out for. Explore EuroCucina and all the design districts—Fuorisalone, 5vie Design Week, Isola Design Week, Brera Design District and Porta Venezia Design District.

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