Life without a washing machine or refrigerator? – For many people today unimaginable. Recently opened, the new Haier Home Appliance Museum in Qingdao, China, explores how our homes evolved and how they continue to evolve. ATELIER BRÜCKNER designed the brand world of one of the largest Chinese manufacturers of home appliances.
Scenography, Exhibition Design: ATELIER BRÜCKNER
Client: Haier Electronics Group Co., Ltd
Location: Qingdao, China
Area: 6,000 sqm
Light Planning: Light-Design Belzner Holmes
Photography: Klaus Reinelt
From the architect: On a total presentation space of 6,000 square metres, divided into four areas, visitors gain varied and informative insights into the cultural tradition, the household history and the new technologies. The exhibition sheds new light on our everyday companions.
On five-metre high LED walls, the prologue presents fire, water and wind as the natural elements which even today we encounter in household appliances, culturally tamed and transformed. Packed in technology, they are still present and provide us with contemporary convenience: from the oven, to the refrigerator through to the air-conditioning unit. We tend to take the domestic appliances that surround us for granted and only notice how important they are to us when they stop working.
In the ‘History’ zone of the exhibition, the visitor is immersed in the past. Five dark rooms are devoted to various decades of the 20th century – from the 1930s right up to the 1990s. Large-scale film projections show short stories that portray life at the time, for example a day in the life of a factory worker and his wife in Detroit in 1935. Like a snapshot from the film, a stage set has been positioned below the projection consisting of contemporary furniture and household appliances. Some of the objects are illuminated when they play a role in the film, such as the fridge when its door is opened. The interplay of stage set and film projection makes the society and technology of those days tangible. The lifestyle of the individual eras, music and fashion are brought to life. On the walls, the visitors also find explanatory texts, mini-games and light boxes with historically relevant objects typical for the time, including telephones, vintage televisions and Polaroid cameras. Embedded in a timeline, they give an overview of the technical development and in some cases arouse personal memories. In the section dedicated to the 1980s, visitors can, for example, play arcade games typical for this decade like Tetris, Pacman and Super Mario.
Moving on towards the ‘Village’, visitors then arrive in the present and explore the most recent household appliances. Passing through a small Zen garden, they reach seven abstract homes and gain an impression of current and forward-looking products, integrated in the different living spaces. The various Haier brands, including General Electric, Fisher & Paykel and Casarte are on display. Information is provided on screens which hang on the walls like framed pictures in the homes. A restaurant and a wine bar make the ‘Village’ a place to relax for a while and remind visitors just how convenient domestic appliances are. Cookery classes can also take place here; after all our tastes are influenced by household appliances.
Last but not least, the museum has something in store for its young visitors: the brightly coloured themed spaces of the children’s area with hand painted murals are jam packed with details, encouraging kids to learn while they play. In the ‘Electric World’, young visitors can explore the physical principles of household appliances in everyday use. How does a washing machine wash? And how does heat exchange work in a refrigerator? In the Haier Digital Hub, the children finally become designers themselves: on a digital easel, they put their own virtual robots together from domestic appliances and when they are done, they are invited to a little dance with them.
Founded in 1984, Haier is a market leader in household appliances – worldwide. The Home Appliance Museum offers a brand world that targets the broader public. The building, designed by the Norwegian architects Snøhetta, is situated at the seaside and is a new attraction in Qingdao. Its contours are reminiscent of an iceberg. The iconic structure enriches the metropolis that is home to more than three million inhabitants.
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