HAO Design‘s website opens with a quote from the Secret Life of Walter Mitty:
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
Their latest project—a massive wardrobe with pastel tunnels—allows all of that and then some:
Two children might further their training in the art of precociousness via this interactive wall. To the left, a bookshelf towers with hidden knowledge. At the center, a chest of drawers holds shoes or more importantly, toys. Sliding wooden doors hide and reveal four perfect pastel tunnels, and if you think there’s nothing special about that, then you have completely lost touch with your inner child.
A wardrobe is an emotionally-volatile little piece of furnishing. It has the potential to be a wunderkammer of mysteries, with large coats to get tangled in and lost artifacts from the hidden world of adults to be discovered and claimed. Of course, they could also be extremely boring and unimaginative.
Here, HAO has cooked up a nice, functional piece for the home with well-balanced design. To put a wall between a bedroom and a playroom separates children to places like cities and highways to adults—to hide hidden passageways that lead from city to city would be like discovering a secret subway system all to yourself.
The design is great, but the magic comes from HAO’s proudest element, the human-centered one. If you were already thinking of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” you’re getting ahead of yourself. It’s prequel, “The Magician’s Nephew” begins with two children, a boy and a girl, meeting one another on a rainy summer, exploring indoors, and discovering hidden passageways in the rafters. HAO are either well read thieves who I admire greatly, or, somehow tuned into the same ether—the ether of childlike wonder.