If you could design the ideal house of the future, what would it look like? Given the opportunity to answer this question, interior and product designer Louise Campbell turned to an unlikely source – Alice in Wonderland. To learn how the fairytale influenced the design, check out the following article, originally published as Through the Looking Glass on Metropolis Magazine.
Every year, the imm Cologne furniture fair hosts Das Haus, a life-size model of an ideal future house. In the past, architects and product designers—such as Zaha Hadid and Naoto Fukasawa in 2007— have teamed up to design their dream house, without pesky constraints like clients or budget. This year, Louise Campbell wore both hats. An interior and product designer, Campbell created what looked like a machine for communal living (or maybe the dwelling of a well-heeled Scandinavian commune).
For 0–100 (Made to measure), Campbell dispensed with functional features like stairs or interior walls and instead “concentrated on what’s really important in a house,” adding, “I want it to be a place where the inhabitants genuinely feel at home.” Side-by-side mattresses on platforms occupy an entire wall of the central area; a long table dominates the middle of the space. In the kitchen, hundreds of tools and implements are arrayed on a pegboard above a counter at one end, most of them far out of reach. This is not an ideal house for the demure: a 100-year-old stoneware bathtub is placed in full view near the entrance, and fabric dividers that roll up when not in use offer the only division of the space.
These choices become clearer after hearing Campbell’s inspiration (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and seeing her whimsical, dollhouse-size model, which is quite different from the realized show house. “I wanted the freedom of Alice’s world to constantly be pulled back down to earth by IMM—after all, it is a very commercial fair,” Campbell says. “The inherent conflict keeps this exciting for me.”
The designer’s model was conceived as a collection of modular boxes, framed in wood and stacked two high in a long row. Plants and light fixtures break through walls and floor plates, making light of the geometry. Here-but-not-there roof panels, and interior and exterior walls make the model feel playful—it’s a plausible setting for a tidy, rectilinear Alice. Like Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit, 0–100 (Made to measure) is a contradiction, an animal in a top hat and waistcoat. “It’s open yet it’s private; it’s intimate yet it’s flexible,” Campbell says. “All these contrasts that I always work with are being taken into the house.”