Sabina Lang & Daniel Baumann
Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann were born in the early 1970s and have been working for a decade now. Their instantly recognisable signature, L/B, serves as a kind of trademark, “a sign indicating control”, as one might concisely define it.
They are relaxed about embracing the forms and motifs of their childhood, those of the 1960s, without lapsing into nostalgia or reaction. References to the past are part of a strategy based on using familiar signs that link simultaneously to personal experience and the collective imagination. The artists seem to share the spirit of that age in which faith in the future and the breaking down of barriers between artistic disciplines combined with an uninhibited assimilation of popular culture; a time when music, architecture, art, design and social sciences moved forward together to the benefit of art.
L/B respond to the disenchantment of the noughties with their beautiful entrance, their beautiful walls, their beautiful lounges, their beautiful windows and their Spielfeld —play area. For them, designing a bar, a table football set, a snooker table or even a hotel room holds the promise of a unique aesthetic experience. Touching, using or inhabiting their spaces — their works are like invitations addressed to the spectator. The relational codes pertaining to relaxation, well- being and play are not an end in themselves but a simple and fresh means of access to the work through hedonistic exchange.
The materials and forms are chosen for the visual and functional qualities. The carpeting is soft, and has a considerable effect on the acoustics. The bright, plastic surfaces change the way we perceive dimensions and distances. The wall paintings and installations favour overlooking views, angles and kinetic motifs in order to heighten the effect of disorientation. L/ B work by covering over what already exists (walls, roads, sports grounds). They act on the surface. Their all-over practice allows them to go beyond the wall as exhibition area and make free use of the floor, ceiling and furniture in their conception of environments. Their beautiful walls enact the transition from surface to volume, from two dimensions to three- dimensional space.
Neither besotted nor blind, Lang and Baumann are very much artists of their times. They perfectly master the potential of the forms they use and articulate their social and political corollaries (a wind of freedom and a belief in the capacity of politics to change society).
Where design plays on seriality and wide distribution, L/B propose works that inflect commercial logics. The Hotel Everland consists of a single room. To reserve it, a potential client will have more need of persistence than of money. Where architecture is built and conceived in the long term, L/Bʼs environments place the emphasis on ephemeral forms linked to pre-existing architectural spaces, notably the white cube. In materialising their pragmatic vision of exhibition spaces and their habitability, L/B dispel all ambiguity: for them, the everyday experience of architecture and design will always be an art, and not a function in lieu of an eventual utopia.