van alen institute has launched an online auction of art and design experiences, offering the chance for bidders to take part in 25 unique activities around the world. the encounters will be experienced alongside notable figures in the fields of art, architecture, and design — including a tour of beijing from architect ma yansong, a visit to artist donald judd’s compound in marfa, texas, and a helicopter ride over mexico city with fernando romero.


the online portion of van alen institute’s annual auction of art and design experiences is now live here via web platform paddle8, and closes at 5pm (ET) on wednesday, april 27.

the winning bidder and a guest will visit the haas brothers’ studio in los angeles




one of the most ‘hands on’ experiences offers the chance for the winning bidder and a guest to visit the haas brothers’ studio in los angeles, where niki haas will work alongside the participant in creating a sculptural nipple, hand or buttocks — all body parts comically celebrated in the art duo’s sculptures and paintings. the haas brothers have become widely recognized for their exploration of aesthetic and formal themes related to nature, science fiction, sexuality, psychedelia, and color theory. their mastery and distinct use of materials ranges from brass, bronze, porcelain and fur, to highly technical resins and polyurethane.


to find out more about the experience, designboom spoke with niki haas, who explained his role in more detail. read our interview below, and see more about the auction here.

niki haas will work alongside the participant in creating a sculptural nipple, hand or buttocks




designboom: can you describe your role in the experience and what it will involve? how do you expect to find working alongside someone who is not necessarily a creative person?


niki haas: I’m inviting the auction winner into our studio to learn how to sculpt a little. I’m sure it’ll be fun! I like teaching and having fun with new pals. I also believe that everybody is creative, it’s just about getting loose.


DB: in what ways do you hope the winning bidder will find a new understanding of the human body?


NH: I don’t really have any hopes for that, I just wanna have a good time with the winner I guess!

the various body parts are comically celebrated in the art duo’s sculptures and paintings




DB: you clearly enjoy sculpting with clay — how did this passion begin, and how has it developed over time?


NH: I was a stone carver for my father’s business from the the time I was 11 until I was about 20. sculpting has been a big part of my life from an early age. I moved to using clay about 3 years ago. I love its versatility and texture. it’s easy to use for someone like me that does it for a living or for someone new.


DB: what are you currently fascinated by? how are these themes feeding into your creative work?


NH: sex, psychedelia, philosophy, humor and music, they all make me happy and self reflective. for me this is the key to making good work.

see all of the art + design experiences up for auction here



about van alen institute


van alen institute believes design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. it collaborates with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. building on more than a century of experience, van alen institute develops cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.