Hornbach Created an Amazing World That Measures a Single Square Meter

How much would a place like that set us back?

What if your entire day, indeed your whole life, took place in spaces measuring one square meter? This is the case for the hero of HeimatTBWA's latest visual stunner from Hornbach.

At the start of the :60 below, he awakens in a constricted world. He climbs a narrow passage with toast in his mouth. It's a scene akin to Alice falling into Wonderland, but in reverse. He stops to spritz his mushrooms. Under a low slanted roof, he tries his hand at pottery. Then he slides away from the wheel, creation in hand, to savor a meal with company. The uneven pot now holds flowers.

The vibe's claustrophobic and dreamlike. Stuff slides about, scenes shift in odd ways.

The ad is a creative response to the cost-of-living crisis that's spread like a plague, making it harder to find adequate living space. "A square meter seems small, yet it is an endless space of ideas," the YouTube description reads. And indeed, as the man progresses through spaces he lives in and shares, the walls never exceed that measure (a square meter is about 10.76 square feet).

Hornbach's grittiness manifests beautifully here, and that madcap quality we've come to love shines in the protagonist's eyes. But the subtle hand of Heimat can also be felt, which is what gives the DIY shop its unique brand identity: It's a place for creativity unhinged, the stuff of too much time alone with a hammer, staring at something whose "artistic constraints" have begun to drive you a little mad—enough to push past barriers of convention.

You'll find no neat Ikea aesthetics, clean lines interrupted only by the quirky accent marks of the furniture's Swedish names. Instead, Hornbach's world is rooty, wild, imperfect—a garden gone full English.

"We want to encourage and inspire people to creatively rethink and design rooms and spaces, both within their own four walls and beyond," explains Thomas Schnaitmann, Hornbach's head of international brand. "Particularly in places where affordable living space is becoming scarcer, the number of ideas per square meter needs to be even bigger."

The work is fun to watch, each scene opening like a palimpsest you can live in, revealing layer upon layer of life. It must have been fun to make. Director Steve Rogers of TDF Berlin worked with set designer Steven Jones-Evans, whose team handcrafted everything you see.

"This film is the embodiment of the Hornbach brand. We've built everything by hand, from the bed to the vertical dining room. No special effects, only ideas," says Guido Heffels, agency founder and CCO. 

The results speak for themselves. In a well-shot minute, the rooms we move through are compact while conveying scale. The ambiance possesses a liminal quality: Space seems to go on forever, holding endless potential. But it also feels a little too tight, evoking the times we've had to make do in tight quarters.

At the end of the ad, the protagonist tumbles out of the labyrinth and emerges, as though from the head of John Malkovich, onto a stage before an applauding audience. The background brasses play at their peak. This line appears: "Every square meter deserves to be the best in the world."

Designers and artists from eight European countries—including Germany, Sweden, Slovakia, Austria, and the Netherlands—produced actual square-meter artworks for the supporting campaign, which will roll out from mid-September onward. They have evocative names like "The Square Farm," "The Memory Room" and "BBQ Tower." Their stories, and those of their designers, will also be told on social and digital supports.

Out-of-home, radio and event promotions will accompany the work.


Creative Agency: HeimatTBWA
Media Agency: Mediaplus
Director: Steve Rogers
Music Composition: Benjamin Woodgates, LELAND Music, London
Music Supervision: Ed Bailie, LELAND Music, London
Sound Design: David Arnold/ LOFT Berlin
Film Production: TPF Berlin
Producers: Michael Duttenhöfer, Florian von der Heydt

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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