Not many people have heard of Lahnstein – even fewer could find it on a map. But this small town in the Rhine Valley near Koblenz has been home to an architectural gem since the early 1970s: the “Stadthalle” (civic centre). The expressive language of form and colour used in both the facade and the interior of the building is regarded as a symbol of the period in which it was built – the carpet in particular warrants a closer inspection.
In 1977, Der Spiegel magazine described Otto Herbert Hajek’s (1928–2005) colours as “dazzling primaries”. At that time, this painter and sculptor from Stuttgart had already made his expressive play of colours and diversity of forms part of many a sculpture and an artistic feature of a number of buildings. He was also well known beyond the borders of his native Swabia, thanks to his participation in the documenta II (1959) and documenta III (1964) international art exhibitions. Architects Dr. Jürgen Jüchser and Peter Ressel, from “Planungsring Wiesbaden”, also knew of him and, after the local authorities had agreed, involved him in their planning of the Stadthalle Lahnstein, when in 1971 they won the competition to build it.
Hajek then created an artistic concept which came to characterise the whole building. Finished in 1973, the pattern and colours of the building’s ornamental façade, comprised of bright yellow, red and violet exposed concrete shapes, are repeated in the interior of the building using the same shapes and bright colours for the walls, floors and ceilings. In the interior it is the floor covering, a carpet combining the graphical pattern and bright colours of the façade, which really catches the eye. This extravagant array of colours extends over all the lobby, staircases, gallery and conference rooms’: a total of 1,600 sqm or so.
When this municipal building was planned and built at the beginning of the 1970s, it was Germany’s oldest weaving mill that made Otto Herbert Hajek’s carpet design a reality. The jacquard nylon-tourney floor covering was made of Antron® carpet fibre, whose robustness contributed to the carpet remaining in the building for 37 years and helped it to withstand innumerable meetings, conferences, trade fairs, exhibitions, office parties and various other events. However, by 2008 it was time for the interior of the building, including the floor covering, to be renovated. The replacement of the floor covering became a political issue and the suggestions to replace it with something other than a carpet, something made of stone, for example, mounted. Fortunately, this textile “work of art” was not to be consigned to history, as the entire building was listed by the region’s “Cultural Heritage Preservation Directorate” as being a heritage site representing the architecture of the 1970s. The preservationists cared most about the Hajek carpet as “part of the heritage of the site” and thus it was agreed that the floor covering and the Stadthalle’s exterior should continue to be renewed rather than replaced. The local council, the “Cultural Heritage Preservation Directorate” and the chief architect responsible for the renovation, Gerhard Maier-Körner, decided upon an exact reconstruction of the original carpet.
Just as in 1973 for the original, in 2010 the production of the carpet was put out to tender. And again it was ANKER, a German carpet manufacturer steeped in tradition, that won the contract to manufacture the carpetusing the same colours and patterns as the original. It was a huge advantage that the weaving specialist could use the designs found in the company’s own archive. But it was not only the original design that was replicated, the material, INVISTA’s Antron® carpet fibre, was also used again. In 2010, this colourful reconstruction based on the original carpet could then be installed in the Stadthalle. However, two small alterations had to be made: for fire safety reasons, this time the floor covering was installed wall-to-wall using adhesives, not gripper rods, as originally. And on the stairs, the vibrant pattern was replaced by a more understated dark violet, in order to increase visitors’ surefootedness. Back in the old days, some had complained that the expressive patterns and bright colours had made them dizzy. Perhaps, they were simply overwhelmed by this unique work of art by Otto Herbert Hajek, a work which now continues to dazzle long after his death.
Chelsea graduate, show winner and rising textile designer Eleanor Ross is exploring man's relationship with carpet in a stunning interactive art installation in collaboration with Antron® carpet fibre. Challenging our perception of carpet and exploring its detail through dissection, the installation will explode Eleanor's signature style revealing the intricacy that goes into pattern creation and carpet made with Antron® carpet fibre. An exploration of layers and detail, the human scale installation will stimulate your senses in ways you never thought carpet could.
Lending Eleanor the space and freedom to let her creativity run wild, Antron® carpet fibre will also present the Carpet & Space concept that considers how humans have forged a relationship with carpet and how it influences modern living and working, along the way revealing some surprising technologies and applications.
There is one thing for sure. With Eleanor and Antron® carpet fibre, you will not find any carpet on the floor.
INVISTA’s Antron® carpet fibre presented its Carpet and Space concept to an audience of architects and designers over breakfast at furniture brand Vitra’s Parisian showroom.
Design consultant Thérèse Hauff-Macé explained the performance of Antron® carpet fibre and how it can have a positive impact on the flooring space, both aesthetically and practically, before revealing the exploratory Design Tool Kit and Carpet & Space concept.
The Design Tool Kit highlights the role of carpet as an element of interior design, depicting its relationship with and translation of nine different materials ranging from glass through to metal, wood and stone showcasing the design flexibility of carpets made with Antron® carpet fibre. Thérèse went on to explain the relationship between the Design Tool Kit and the Carpet & Space campaign’s four themes in a hands-on exploration of both, allowing attending architects and designers to truly understand the various textures, colours, patterns lustres and innovations made capable with Antron® carpet fibre.
“The series of breakfasts provided a fantastic opportunity to explain Antron® carpet fibre face-to-face with some of France’s top architects and designers,” enthused Thérèse Hauff-Macé. “Both the Design Tool Kit and the Carpet & Space concept are great ways to explore the creative possibilities offered by the fibre and attendees were astounded to find out that carpet can also interact directly with building users through several special innovations.”
Alongside the attendance of architects and designers, a separate press breakfast was held with the attendance of journalists from leading architecture and design magazines.