Interior designer Maurice Mentjens takes inspiration from the interconnectedness of neural pathways in his grid-like adaptation of Eindhoven's House of Smart.
Directly across from the Witte Dame building in Eindhoven is House of Smart, a dynamic new store outfitted entirely of criss-cross wooden structures that double as decor and display.
Maurice Mentjens is a commercial interior design expert who specializes in innovating retail spaces by integrating technology and clever concepts into the environment and experience. House of Smart is no different. It is here, that the sober palette of shades of grey combines with panelling to create the image of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where information is processed. Like a labyrinth or a maze, the store reflects its setting. Eindhoven is the technological center of the Netherlands, the area has even been voted 'the world's smartest region' by the Intelligent Community Forum (IFC). For this reason, Mentjens created a retail interpretation of the brain with its branching nervous system, a shop that symbolizes streams of thought.
But that's not the whole story. Mentjens's designs are characterized by their layered nature. Behind the first, superficial impression, a wealth of spiritual associations emerges that illuminate the design concept. In this case, that is the contradiction between rational thought and the psychedelic experiences of mind-expanding substances.
The designer notes that "People who are open to it understand that there is more between the heavens and the Earth than the pre-conditioned perceptions of our culture. The realm of creativity is chaos and does not proceed along linear thought patterns. An open mind is of vital importance for true renewal. The conceptual relationship between rationality, intuition, and illusion are essential to this. This was the credo of the hippie movement of the 1970s in their search for other dimensions. But this was also highlighted by leading artists and academics who think outside the box like Jean-Paul Sartre, Ettore Sottsass, and Steve Jobs. These free spirits followed in the footsteps of the shamans who used mind-expanding substances for their transcendental travels to other dimensions and parallel universes. In this context, the statement on US artist Bruce Nauman’s neon spiral “Window or Wall Sign” (1967) is particularly poignant: “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths”.
The House of Smart is part of a renovation to the-early-20th-century building that was completely stripped down to its bare walls. Inside, only the loose-hanging parts were removed, the roughly bricked walls bearing the traces of renovations and breakthroughs of the past were purposefully left visible. Somewhere in that wall, an old safe was found, which is where the House of Smart exists. The history of the building is written on its walls, a detail that Mentjens feels strongly connected to. "It is the ultimate way to connect a new design to time and space." The designer explains.
House of Smart is all about the net-like structure of the brain, partly used as a display case. On the 65-mm wooden beams, samples are hung like the fruit on the Biblical tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For the presentation of more valuable items, there is the option to install glass cases in the construction. The two right-angled counters also serve a display purpose. They're large in size but their camouflage shade of grey means that they share this space without being too obvious. The same theory applies to the lighting provided by minimalistic LED beams that seamlessly blend in with the all-encompassing structures. Smart indeed.
Photography courtesy of Maurice Mentjens