The HORNBACH brand has always stood for enabling its customers to create great things with creativity and their bare hands. In 2020, the DIY store chain, together with Heimat Berlin and Neutral Zurich, once again demonstrates this brand promise in spectacular fashion: HORNBACH presents a genuine piece by world-famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei that you can build yourself – with instructions and materials from HORNBACH, of course. 

Art belongs to everybody - Ai Weiwei & HORNBACH - Documentary


With the artwork Safety Jackets Zipped the Other Way, Ai Weiwei and HORNBACH aim to democratise art by making it accessible for everybody, with the only costs being for the materials. “We immediately loved the idea that anyone can own an original Ai Weiwei by means of their craftsmanship. This is a completely new type of project for our customers and fans,” commented Karsten Kühn, member of the Board of Management of HORNBACH Baumarkt AG.

This work of art belongs to anybody who wants to build it. As Ai Weiwei states: “Everybody can be an artist or has the opportunity or ability to make art.” A central motif in Ai Weiwei’s work is the concept of the readymade – an industrially manufactured object is redefined by the artist as a work of art. The piece consists of high-visibility safety jackets joined together by means of their zips. Removed from their original function, they merge into a shapeless soft sculpture. The assembled readymade Safety Jackets Zipped the Other Way transforms realities and triggers unexpected perceptions.

The project is accompanied by a comprehensive publication, which includes not only the building instructions, but also a classification of how Safety Jackets Zipped the Other Way fits into the artistic practice of Ai Weiwei. It also includes a certificate of authenticity and an interview the art critic and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist conducted with Ai Weiwei about the project.

The publication will be available in the HORNBACH online shop for EUR 18.00. The building instructions can be downloaded free of charge from A short documentary film on the project can be found here and a TVC will run on TV from 13 February 2020. 

In a fully collaborative effort, HORNBACH parent agency Heimat Berlin and Neutral Zurich are responsible for the implementation and communication of this project. The accompanying book was designed by Data-Orbit. 

Campaign facts:
Campaign: Ai Weiwei & HONRBACH
Media: Digital (moving image, display, social media), TV, cinema, building instructions, poster
Period: From 13 February 2020 online in Germany, Switzerland and Austria
Agencies: Heimat Berlin and Neutral Zurich
Production: LIESEL
Design (manual/publication): Data-Orbit


The Chinese artist was born in Beijing in 1957 as the son of famous Chinese poet Ai Qing and attended the Beijing Film Academy before moving to New York in 1981. He returned to China in 1993, where he stayed for more than 20 years and focused on creative activities. In 2015, Ai moved to Berlin, where he taught as a visiting professor at the Berlin University of the Arts. In addition to his artistic activities, Ai is internationally acclaimed for his work as an architect, curator, film director and photographer. He has received, among others, the Award for Excellence in the Arts (2013) from the Appraisers Association of America and appears regularly in the Power 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the contemporary art world compiled by magazine ArtReview

He currently lives in Cambridge, England, and has a studio in Berlin. 


There’s always a job to be done: and that has been the case since 1877. A family story the likes of which no other company in the DIY marketstore sector can tell. Five generations have made HORNBACH what it is today: one of the leading DIY marketstore companies in Germany and Europe, with more than 160 DIY and garden marketstores and over 20,000 employees. HORNBACH continually demonstrates its innovative power with pioneering services, including Europe’s first combined DIY and garden marketstore (1968), the first megastore (1980) and the first DIY marketstore with drive-in access (2003). Since 2010, the bricks-and-mortar business has been complemented by the HORNBACH online shop, in order to be there for customers as an expert partner for their project – across all channels. 

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