The Octogenarian Architects Influenced by The Memphis Group

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Fabric presentation with architectural motifs Mira-Lapideus Squama and Murus, Mira-Marmoreus Columna, Mira- Lapideus Arcula, Mira-Marmoreus Clatri und Canna (from left to right)Courtesy of Trix & Robert Haussmann

The UK’s first retrospective exhibition celebrating the little-known work of Trix and Robert Haussmann is now on display at Nottingham Contemporary

Who? Although relatively unknown, Trix and Robert Haussmann are some of the most important Swiss architects of the 20th century. Born in 1931 and 1933 respectively, the married octogenarians founded their own design studio in 1967, and named it Allgemeine Entwurfsanstalt in 1981. Since then, they have jointly produced work spanning architecture and interior design, pertaining to an aesthetic that rebelled against the principles of Bauhaus and embraced the Post-modern doctrines of The Memphis Group, with their practice defined by an amalgamation of popular culture with 16th-century Mannerism. 

What? Over the course of their partnership, they have produced near to 650 projects, including chairs such as Neon-Stuhl (1967), made in animal print and neon, Choco-Chair (1967), a wooden seat with its legs appearing to melt into the ground, and architectural works, with the trompe l’oeil murals in Da Capo Bar, Shopville in Zurich’s central train station being one such iconic example. “You might say that we are interested in ‘disturbed reality’; the disturbance of form by ornament,” the pair said earlier this year of their Surrealist sensibilities. “We link things that don’t go together and, in order to do this, we rely increasingly on the mirror as a virtual reality: with a mirror, you can destroy the real, enlarge it, change it.” 

Why? The UK’s first retrospective exhibition celebrating the oeuvre of Trix and Robert Haussmann is now on display at Nottingham Contemporary. Titled The Log-O-Rithmic Slide Rule, the show is named after the Hausmann’s “thesaurus of 100 manneristic keywords that can be re-arranged to form a total of 10,000 possible combinations”.

Bringing together early pieces with maquettes, furniture and textiles, the show seeks to highlight the playful nature of their collaborative works, including the cartoonish Neoclassical pillars that are a Haussmann signature. The exhibition design has been conceived by Caruso St John Architects (architects of Nottingham Contemporary’s RIBA Award-winning building), and comprises patterned walls and carpet-topped plinths, as well as interventions by artists Liam Gillick and Karl Holmqvist, and designer Petra Blaisse. 

Trix & Robert Haussmann, The Log-O-Rithmic Slide Rule: A Retrospective is open at Nottingham Contemporary until October 7, 2018.