Hospitality Design - July 2011 - 113
Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu
Neri&Hu Design and Research Of ce, Shanghai
One look at Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu decked out in minimalist designer black, and it’s clear that they practice what they preach. The husband-and-wife team look unabashedly intellectual, with their fashion choices underscoring their cerebral, analytical approach to design. Even the name of their ﬁrm, Neri&Hu Design and Research Ofﬁce, reﬂects their academic leanings. Their formula seems to be working. They are currently one of Shanghai’s hottest design ﬁrms, with projects such as the Waterhouse on South Bund in Shanghai and Pollen Street Social in London making waves and garnering awards. They exhibit their furniture and accessories annually at i Saloni in Milan, recently taught a design studio course at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Architecture, and write extensively for periodicals. They also make sure that they spend time at the end of the day with their three children, ages eight through 12; they’ll even take them out of school to ﬂy around the world on business meetings as a family. “Our approach stems from the root thinking that what we do isn’t really a business,” explains Hu, a Taiwanese American architect educated at Berkeley and Princeton. “It is more of a cultural production. Whether you are selling a product or giving a lecture, these are all equally important. Teaching and learning are very important aspects of what we do. We treat our team of designers in the ofﬁce like a studio.” high
From top: China House at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok; a rendering of Le Meridien Zhengzhou, China; and the lobby of the Waterhouse on South Bund in Shanghai.
Hu met Neri when she was a school student choosing her college electives, and the two have been married for 18 years. A Filipino American architect who also studied at Berkeley before completing his master’s in architecture at Harvard, Neri is outspoken and gregarious, known for is his ﬁrm handshakes and and warm grins. By contrast, Hu’s demeanor more reserved reﬂective, hinting at her classical piano training. “Aesthetics is not that important to us,” says Neri. “Not that we don’t like beautiful things. But we always work on highly conceptually charged projects, such as in One Polo Club in Beijing—instead of having 20 or 30 stainless steel plates hanging from the ceiling, we have 10,000. It is the exaggeration of a concept, pushed to the limit.” The couple feels that China is a
tabula rasa for them to experiment
while showcasing the best of what the country has to offer. “Shanghai is an international city just like New York City was at the turn of the 19th century,” states Neri. “It opens the world up to us.” hd