«The pandemic has changed the mainstream too. Now the focus is on sustainable, quality design»
This year, the South Tyrolean architect Hannes Peer makes his debut on the jury for the new edition of the ADAs – the awards promoted by Archiproducts to celebrate international design excellence.
Hannes Peer, an eclectic creative and all-round artist
Originally from Bolzano but now based in Milan, Peer has been included three times in a row on the list of the world’s 100 most influential designers by Architectural Digest France. He is an architect and all-round artist who has made eclecticism his distinctive signature. His style is characterised by a powerful iconographic identity based on continuous research into colours and materials and the cross-pollination of different languages and artistic disciplines.
His signature interiors (residential, retail, hotel, commercial) are authentic palimpsests of epochs and moods nourished by urbane suggestions. He cites Sottsass, Mollino, Gabriella Crespi, Portaluppi and Nanda Vigo, combining the experiments of the revolutionary 1960s and 70s with the transgressive spirit of his contemporaries, first and foremost Rem Koolhaas. Because, as Sottsass said, “Design is an exercise in Architecture”, says designer Hannes Peer during the interview.
“Design should be generated by incessant research. Only then will it never be a superficial matter”
Peer’s Milan home/workshop – a space he created in a mid-twentieth-century industrial building – bears the stamp of his design philosophy and work ranging from art to sculpture and architecture. Inside, every detail (from self-produced prototypes, 1970s Brazilian design, modern icons and 1930s Art Deco carpets) expresses Peer’s strong personality – a declared praise for eclecticism that is never abused, together with a rejection of rampant minimalism.
In conversation with Hannes Peer, member of the Archiproducts Design Awards 2021 jury
We asked Hannes Peer,a member of the 2021 ADA jury, a few questions to understand his personal view of the state of innovation in the world of design today and his expectations from this year’s entries. From the idea of design becoming “Instagram-oriented”, constantly influenced by globalised images, to the importance of returning to the roots of the creative process and escaping the shackles of compulsive consumerism, Italian architect Hannes Peer has a clear view of how contemporary design will evolve in the near future.
What do you expect from the 2021 Archiproducts Design Awards, and what characteristics should the winning products have? I will certainly appreciate products oriented towards functional design and conceived in response to a real need. In addition, I will value ideas driven by sustainability and inventiveness. I love design that reuses, recycles and reduces with creativity and innovation.
What role should a Design Award play today? Awards should bring out the creativity of emerging talents..new ideas that are also rooted in history. Contests should encourage diversity and certainly reward participants who in some way aim to open new horizons through their work.
How do you think the pandemic has affected design? Throughout the pandemic, ‘form’ has definitely reigned over ‘function’. Now we need to turn over a new leaf and move away from this clumsy furniture-making system of serial production based on superficial knowledge and driven by fleeting trends. We need to go back to the roots of design, focus on real issues and become more interested in comfort and sustainability. We need a massive amount of research. Only then will design not be considered a superfluous discipline.
So how should contemporary design evolve to meet the needs of the community? First, we should start thinking about product design in terms of real quality and not just ‘Instagram-Likability’. The world needs quality products that last and create a sense of comfort and stability…and maybe even protection in these challenging times. The design process should never be self-referential but always ‘in relation or in response to something’, or as Ettore Sottsass so aptly put it: ‘Design should be an exercise in Architecture’.
In the post-pandemic era, how can design define a ‘new normal’? After the pandemic, people’s needs seem to have changed. Until 2020, everyone bought a disproportionate number of items from Amazon, IKEA, and other platforms that obviously encouraged compulsive buying. But now all that is changing, and I am very happy about it. There is another awareness that the mainstream has also changed. I am convinced that if in the future, in light of recent events, designers focus on quality, comfort and sustainability, consumers will invest in these same features accordingly. As Magistretti said. “a good product must last a long time, 50 or even 100 years”. I am personally optimistic. If we return to this kind of ‘good design’, I can only imagine a ‘new normal’ that is better than the old one.