haas&hahn social design
Hello, we are haas and hahn. The reason we have a website is because we have a story to tell and it isn’t over yet. A book wouln’t do because it would mark an ending.
Our story starts in 1981 but only one of us remembers that.
We hung out once in my uncles house. I was four and hahn was 8. Skip 20 years and we met again. Hahn imported his hiphop party called ‘Chocolate’ from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and it was a succes for several years. I was doing the visuals (VJing) with my brother and a few friends. We called ourselves the beam team. I designed some flyers for chocolate too.
I was also doing gamekings... etc.
I had this opportunity to make a documentary I knew I couldnt do it alone. I needed someone who I trusted would understand new situations. Mostly I needed someone to help me organize a documentary and Hahn had experience doing that.
We rolled from one project to the next. Sometimes we pushed and raised funds for a few years before we could get something rolling again. You might ask if we are an NGO but that term is not very specific.
We have chosen to dedicate our efforts as designer and organizer to areas which inspire us. We could have done similar work in advertising but felt this to be more interesting. This has been a challenge of course because we are not selling anything.
It has been hard to define what our project is, even for us. We felt comfortable with calling it an art project for years but now were not sure. Art has become a word who’se definition only few can claim to have access to.
NGO and art are definitions too undefined for us to identify with.. with conviction.
The timeline of our projects maps our understanding of what it is we do.
We cannot measure the success of our project numerically.
Our interests are sparked.
Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn have a passion for urban transformation. Both grew up steeped in architectural theory and both have fathers or uncles who are noted urban planners in Holland. Yet this Dutch artist duo – who operate under the moniker Haas&Hahn – affect change not through books and discourse, but through exploring other cultures on the ground, whether it be in the streets of North Philadelphia, favelas of Rio de Janeiro or shantytowns in Haiti.
Working in underserved communities, they mobilize and inspire locals to reinvent their own neighborhood through extraordinary art projects of massive scale. Their work in Brazil spawned sister projects worldwide and in 2011 the duo moved to North Philadelphia to revitalize a downtrodden commercial strip by mobilizing local youth to paint the facades of buildings a rainbow of riotous color. Watch this video to learn more about Haas&Hahn’s quest to use art to change the lives of people who live in socially troubled neighborhoods.
They have been invited to present their work on many occasions, ranging from a show at the United Nations Head Quarters to lectures at universities across the world. In 2014 Haas&Hahn had the honor to be invited to TED Global, held in Rio de Janeiro, to speak about their projects. Watch this funny and inspiring talk, in which Haas&hahn explain their art-first approach — and the importance of a neighborhood barbecue. As they work on a multitude of projects, they travel to paint and explore communities worldwide and pursue their dream: to organize community members to paint an entire favela hill!
Bridging gaps through action.
Expanding situations into a social engagement.
Adding social dynamics