Art Installation at Art Basel 2014

Sculptural Installation at Swire Properties' Corporate Lounge

Marc & Chantal tackled the opportunity of designing the Swire Properties Corporate Lounge at Art Basel for a third straight year with a goal to make it the most ambitious installation yet. The aim was to create a design that would be an engaging and meaningful lounge experience, then become a beautiful and playful semi-permanent installation at Taikoo Hui in Guangzhou. The concepts for the art piece were realised in coloured glass and mirror panels that immersed visitors in an optical playground.

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The challenge

We wanted to represent the intrinsic qualities of Swire Properties' active neighbourhoods in the concept, while creating a beautiful art piece that shows their support for creativity. Vibrant neighbourhoods are a constant source of chance encounters and happy connections and the design team used this observation as the basis for creating an installation that was all about forming connections. These messages had to be interpreted in an abstract way so that many types of visitors could find meaning in the installation. And finally, the installation had to be modular to allow for re-installation at a permanent site in Guangzhou after Art Basel was over.

Our Approach

By expanding on the central idea of the impromptu encounters that happen in cosmopolitan communities, we created visual connections and surprising links throughout the space. It's designed to bring people together, whether strangers or old friends. To enhance the sensation of the disjointed, but very real, connections, the installation is linked by the continuous thread of a graphic yellow line. It turns, disappears and shows up again throughout the entire space and reinforces the perception of the angles found in the mirrored walls. The spatial boundaries are formed by 2.4 meter tall coloured glass panels that inspire playful reactions from visitors.

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The angled shape and narrow width of the lounge dimensions presented a challenge in making a functional space that enhanced the creative concept. The glass and mirror panels with their reflective geometry were precisely positioned to create a world of illusions, while ensuring that the lounge functioned well during events.

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The colours of the 2.4 meter tall glass panels change the perception of the space as visitors move through the installation. Shades of green, blue, purple, red and yellow merge and fluidly form new colour combinations that play with the feelings of depth and connection in the lounge.

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Up close, the precise geometry can be appreciated as reflections are bounced along the path of the yellow ribbon that connects the panel. The periscope mirror configuration gives visitors an end-to-end view of the yellow line, through all its twists and turns. As the yellow path winds through the panels of the installation, it occasionally rises to form a bench for visitors to sit and take in the installation.

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The installation truly comes to life when people interact with the visual effects found in the reflections and angles of the coloured panels.

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After the Art Basel event, the artwork has been re-installed in the lobby at TaiKoo Hui Tower One in Guangzhou where passersby see a constantly changing perspective as different groups of people interact with the glass pieces.

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The colours, angles and playful design extended to the e-invitations and other communication materials designed for the lounge. The graphic of the invitation gave visitors an advance look at the ideas behind the art installation without giving anything away.

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We enlivened the installation with a discussion of the ideas and trends shaping art-focused travel. The talk, Is Art Tourism the New Grand Tour?, was researched and organised by Marc & Chantal and animated by a panel of industry-leading experts. Touching on issues of cultural branding for cities, travel in Asia and how modern travellers share art experiences, the event drew a capacity crowd amongst the glass panels of the installation.