MVRDV’s spatial design responds to the theme; “Minding the Digital” which considers the myriad forms of digital creativities critical to China’s shift from a historic manufacturing centre to its current reinvention as an innovative hub. The spatial concept draws on and also reflects upon Design Society’s question of how to identify multiple design directions generated by digital thinking. In collaboration with Design Society’s curatorial team, MVRDV has developed a labyrinth located over two floors that individualise and differentiates the display environments for designs and designers, whilst at the same time creates a synergy between both floors which gives different perspectives and experience from either within the exhibition hall or viewing from above.
Ole Bouman, director of Design Society said: “Minding the Digital is the inaugural and hence manifesto exhibition of Design Society. Located in our Main Gallery, it indicates multiple futures for design and positions it as the frontline for innovation today. Design Society believes exhibition design is pivotal for creating experiences with lasting impact. Not only did we want to give people a comprehensive look into digital design practices today in both China and beyond, but we also feel the responsibility to make our visitors themselves part of the digital shift and to contribute to their agency to be creative and imaginative themselves. Under the guidance of Rong Zhao and Carrie Chan and the curatorial team, we are very glad to see how MVRDV and thonik translated this requirement in the two-floor journey, where you start in awe and finish with confidence in your own creative drive.”
“We have created here a labyrinth both of ideas and of products across two floors, and on the upper-level workshops and conversations that are separated by a glass floor in some areas which show individualised environments for designers and designs below", says Winy Maas, MVRDV co-founder. "Walking over it, it shows histories as well as futures in a beautiful space illuminated from below.” "How to convey that thought? How to experience that?
Design products change our world and so do the machines that produce new products. A society led by design is under endless construction and in an expanding smartening universe, there is an emergence of a new world of digitized making.
The first floor offers a panoramic view of current design and making cultures that cross different disciplines. Visitors are able to experience a labyrinth of ideas and imaginations informing the digital era and to navigate through a maze of interconnected exhibition rooms. This allows for microdisplays or an exhibition within an exhibition with distinct colour coded rooms that emphasise and enhance objects on view. In contrast on the second floor, visitors engage in a wider range of activities including participatory workshops, talks and by simply reflecting on the processes occurring below which are visible through areas with transparent glass floors from which the whole exhibition hall truly comes alive and illuminates from below. This exhibition typology makes the audiences’ experience more transparent, whilst demonstrating how designers and products continue to contribute with new ideas to the fast-paced development of the digital world.
The design for the opening exhibition is a white installation that respects the new building designed by the Japanese Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki by integrating seamlessly and yet fully making use of the provided space.
Inspired by the exhibition narrative, MVRDV collaborated with Amsterdam-based design collective, thonik who created the visual identity for ‘Minding the Digital’. The key image is digitally programmed and RGB colour patches float on a white background. The typography is a computer-generated gatekeeper that keeps the coloured blobs in place. This basic mechanism has a strong reference to the first ping-pong computer game. The choice of colour, the basic RGB, speaks of the spectrum of the digital era. In a mobile quiz, to be played in Wechat, each visitor learns his digital identity: are you a digital native, a digital tourist or a digital alien? You choose.
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