Hornbach, the German home improvement retailer, has collaborated with renowned artist Ai Weiwei on its latest home creativity campaign: the Chinese icon has designed an artwork that customers can recreate for their own homes, using materials from the store.
Part of an ongoing campaign by Berlin agency Heimat, in which Hornbach teams up with designers to create items that customers can construct for themselves using a DIY manual and its range of materials, the piece, titled "Safety Jackets Zipped the Other Way," consists of high-visibility safety jackets joined together by means of their zips to form a sculpture.
The artwork "transforms realities and triggers unexpected perceptions," according to Hornbach. It's the first-ever commercial collaboration for Ai Weiwei, who according to the brand was keen to take part thanks to his interest in tools and DIY stores.
"Art belongs to everyone," he said at the project launch event. "We're all born equal. Art comes from the unconscious. It's about an experience and how we deliver our emotions to other people. Art comes from a strong emotion. It's about passion, courage and to find out who we are. Everyone has this ability. We should all use it."
The project is accompanied by a publication, which includes not only the building instructions, but also a classification of how the artwork fits into the artistic practice of Ai Weiwei. It also includes a certificate of authenticity and an interview the art critic and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist conducted with Ai Weiwei about the project. Customers can buy the publication in the Hornbach online shop for 18 Euros and download the building instructions here. Heimat worked with Neutral Zurich, an agency that works with artists, architects and designers as creatives, including Ai Weiwei, on the project, and the accompanying book was designed by Data-Orbit.
Other projects in the series have included a Japanese utsuri table by Japanese designer Yo Shimada and a lounge chair designed with designer and architect Sigurd Larsen. Weiwei is definitely the most high profile artist to team up with the retailer so far, though.