15 May 2019 • Lauren Grace Morris
The secret ingredient to this moving Design China Beijing installation? Imagination
Chinese culture is rife with references to an ‘auspicious cloud,’ a meteorological representation of heaven and good luck. From 1913-1915 and 1921-1928, in fact, two versions of a ballad called Song to the Auspicious Cloud were national anthems of the Republic of China.
Shanghai-based Joy Season Studio was asked by Beijing Shine Hills – a developer of commercial complexes – to bring that metaphysical symbol to life for Design China Beijing. The company wanted to create an experience that would feel less corporate and more emotional, to really have it resonate with the visitors. But the idea wasn’t too abstract a stretch – they took cues from their own name. In Chinese, the meaning of Shine Hills is ‘auspicious cloud.’
Mentally placing themselves in the exhibition site where the A Walk-In Paradise installation would go to live, Joy Season already knew that there would be an inundation of information and noise. To create a sense of welcome subtraction from that, the studio decided that the 35-sq-m site should be synesthetic, evoking what it might actually feel like to be enveloped by a prismatic, auspicious cloud.
To build the fantasy, Joy Season used acrylic plates with shimmering covers and polished steel for the ground, to reflect the people walking inside the installation. After the construction was finished, the space was filled with refracted coloured light that bounced off the plates.
‘The description of the auspicious cloud always appears in literature,’ said the Joy Season team. ‘But no one has ever actually seen or entered it. We imagine that it should shine with bright colours, just like rosy clouds on the horizon at dawn or the sunset glow at dusk.’