VIP Lounge Experience at Art Basel 2013

Lounge Design for Swire Properties

For their second year as a host of the art fair, Swire Properties turned to Marc & Chantal to create a VIP Lounge at Art Basel in Hong Kong, in 2013. The event was the first edition of Art Basel to be located in Asia and was held at the Hong Kong Conventions and Exhibition Centre, which showcased works from 3,500 artists worldwide. Not merely for collectors, Art Basel attracted international curators, writers, thinkers and cool-hunters alike.

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The challenge

The functional requirements of the lounge space to host talks, cocktail events and provide a reflective space for guests was matched by the strong conceptual base needed to relay Swire Properties’ interest in the urban life and culture of Hong Kong. We had to create a space that added to guests’ perceptions of the city, both for new visitors and long-time residents.

Our Approach

We decided to show the other side of Hong Kong's famous density and intimidating crowded streets. Behind imposing walled entrances, neighbourhoods are linked by bridges, courtyards, tunnels and walkways that form rich networks in the daily life of the metropolis. These connections reveal vibrant flashes of life and the visual poetry found in the collage of materials, colours and shapes of these connections is seen in the 170 overhead blocks that feature photos of the architecture and people of Hong Kong.

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The space allocated to the installation was an enormous hall at the entrance to the main exhibition area. The open space allowed us to play with the rise and fall of the blocks to create an abstract topography for the installation.

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When seen from above, the installation opens up, with open areas among the blocks representing the porosity to be found in the urban landscape of Hong Kong. These openings also make the space more inviting for the guests sitting below.

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Seeing the blocks from underneath was the key to getting the full experience of the lounge. With overhead lights shining through the transparent ‘ceilings’, the blocks displayed vibrant colours found in photographs of Hong Kong urban textures and activity.

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The Vernissage party invitations and printed collaterals for the lounge were designed to match both the style of the Swire Properties brand identity and the visual highlights of the lounge installation.

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As an activation of the space, we organised a talk to be held in the lounge during Art Basel. We conceived and produced a special edition of our ongoing Le Salon discussion series that was held in the lounge. The topic centred around the impact of the urban environment of Hong Kong on artists’ practices.