It’s half-concept, half-simulation – and this year’s lucky nominees are a young, dynamic design team from Spain: Mut Design. The team, headed by Alberto Sánchez and Eduardo Villalón with their right-hand woman Pola Knabe presented their concept last week in Valencia, where the studio is based. The informal theme for the 2020 edition of Das Haus of imm Cologne is Indoor/Outdoor and is overseen by the creative directors of the fair Dick Spierenburg.

On a spectacular day, half an hour outside of the city, the designers and journalists met among rice fields in the Albufera national park to discuss the history and future of design and to learn about the initial concept of the MUT project.

Design Press Talk imm cologne 2020 in Valencia on 18 September 2019 - Studio Visit
When it comes to Europe, Spain seems like a logical choice when looking for young talent for the indoor/outdoor theme. It’s not just a question of the climate, although of course that helps a lot, it’s also closely related to cultural and architectural heritage. Usage of the ‘sahn’ or courtyard can be traced as far back as the Third Dynasty of Ur, but the more accessible example in this case–for the architecture and geography–is that of the moors. Courtyards, as seen in a myriad of examples, can be both public and private. Traditional Islamic neighbourhoods can have a dedicated central open space only for the neighbourhood residents, while the idea of a town square, like the Greek or Roman agora can facilitate public gatherings and social events.

It is exactly with this kind of spirit and inspiration that the MUT team aim to play with these concepts of inside/outside and public/private. Especially in the age where many city dwellers, not just hippies, students or the elderly, are searching for communal and socially-minded urban housing. The concept that the team presented was quite vague still, so as to surprise us in January in Cologne, but our imaginations were allowed to work with the form that was presented – four conical spaces tucked in together, creating these four ‘rooms’ that were open out towards the environment (and surrounded by a body of water), and one internal courtyard. These four spaces, despite not having a program entirely set in stone, were reserved for cleansing, resting cooking and had an active area, while the courtyard is reserved for contemplation and stillness.

Design Press Talk imm cologne 2020 in Valencia on 18 September 2019 - Mood board at the studio
We were given a touch more insight into the materiality and formal language during a studio visit. The concept of inside/outside is, naturally, not only reserved to the architecture of the space, but also the pieces in it–many of which were ambitiously designed by the team–adopt a visual and material language that could be used in both environments. Whether or not they will in fact be produced depends on some timing constraints.

We’d like to congratulate the MUT team and say that we look forward to what will be presented at Das Haus in Cologne in January of 2020. Stay tuned.

Design Press Talk imm cologne 2020 in Valencia on 18 September 2019 - Concept presentation
Design Press Talk imm cologne 2020 in Valencia on 18 September 2019 - Press Lunch
Design Press Talk imm cologne 2020 in Valencia on 18 September 2019 - Press Lunch (detail)
Design Press Talk imm cologne 2020 in Valencia on 18 September 2019 - The MUT team checking out the space in Cologne