Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint at M+ Pavilion, Hong Kong

m+ pavilion   Isamu Noguchi

 Isamu Noguchi


I have always been fascinated by Japanese American modernist artist, designer and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi‘s work, yet I have never visited his museum in New York even though I used to live there. I have seen his work at MOMA and at other art institutions in America, but oddly enough, I have rarely seen his work being shown outside of America. Hence, I was quite excited about his exhibition in Hong Kong before my visit.

The ‘Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint‘ at M+ Pavilion exhibition is based on an ongoing conversation between two artists who never met: Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) and the contemporary Vietnamese Danish artist Danh Vo (born 1975). Vo, who has in recent years explored and researched Noguchi’s life and art, and has included Noguchi’s work in his installations with increasing frequency. This exhibition shed light on each artist’s protean body of work.


 Isamu Noguchi This Tortured Earth  Isamu Noguchi

 Isamu Noguchi

 Isamu Noguchi    Isamu Noguchi Ghost

 Isamu Noguchi bamboo Basket Chair


Occupying the main exhibition space were Noguchi‘s sculptures, furniture, lighting and worksheets. Noguchi‘s biomorphic sculptures remind me very much of another artist from the same period: Barbara Hepworth. Yet he was also a brilliant designer and landscape architect; his iconic coffee table designed in 1944 is still in production (now by Herman Miller/Vitra) after more than seven decades. Another classic design series are his Akari Light Sculptures, inspired by his trip to Gifu in Japan where it is famous for its manufacture of paper parasols and lanterns. Over the years, he created a total of more than 100 models, consisting of table, floor and ceiling lamps ranging in size from 24 to 290 cm.

In the middle of the room, there was a Chinese-style pavilion Untitled (Structure for Akari PL2) designed by Vo to hang Noguchi‘s paper lamp sculptures, and for visitors to rest. It blended extremely well with Noguchi‘s works.


 Isamu Noguchi    Isamu Noguchi

 Isamu Noguchi

 Isamu Noguchi    Isamu Noguchi

 Isamu Noguchi Leda

 Isamu Noguchi    Isamu Noguchi

 Isamu Noguchi


Outside of the building were a few cargo containers where Vo‘s works were exhibited. Like Noguchi, Vo‘s life was shaped and influenced by Eastern and Western cultures. Due to his refugee background, Vo often addresses the issues of history, identity and belonging in his work. His conceptual works often weave archival fragments together and personal references. He also doesn’t believe in providing explanatory material, hence, it’s up to the visitors to interpret his work. Last year, Vo held a sold exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, so he is undoubtedly one of the most prominent Asian artists working today.


Danh Vo  Danh Vo

Danh Vo  Danh Vo

Danh Vo’s conceptual art work



Design Junction 2015

Victoria Housevictoria houseVictoria Housethe college the college the college

Top row: the art deco features at Victoria House: 2nd & bottom rows: The college


Like 100% Design, this year, Design Junction moved from its previous location (the Former Royal Mail Sorting Office on New Oxford Street) to two enormous and historical venues on Southampton Row – the art deco Victoria House (completed in 1932) and The College (the former site of Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design completed in 1908). The interior of both buildings are fascinating, but the maze-like layout (esp. at The college) made it hard for visitors to navigate and most of us were constantly going round in circles within the building.


P1140571-compressedvic leerokosAlicja Patanowskagoat story

Top: Teddy’s wish installation; 2nd left: Vic Lee working on a mural; 2nd middle: Tipping vases by Rokos; 2nd right: Plantation by Alicja Patanowska; Bottom row: Goat Story


This year, the retail section was allocated to the basement of Victoria house, which was the original home of the show back in 2011. One of the attractions was the ‘Teddy’s wish’ installation created by Anthony Dickens and Studio Make Believe, featuring 21 iconic Eames elephants customised by world renowned designers and architects.



Top & bottom left: Blackbody; Bottom middle: Ango; Bottom right: Haberdashery


Lighting had always been a strong focus at this design fair in the past, and this year was no exception. Over at The College site, the entire ground floor was dedicated to lighting, and one of the most visually spectacular was French light company Blackbody‘s installations at one of the entrances. I was also drawn to the nature-inspired lighting created by the Thai company Ango. The company’s designs have won awards at various local and international design shows including Good design award in Japan and Maison et Objet in France.


the gem roomlaufen at the gem room coelacanth shokudoucoelacanth shokudoucoelacanth shokudouYuta Segawa

Top and 2nd left: The gem room; 2nd right, 3rd & 4th rows: Scissors and crafts by Coelacanth Shokudou; Bottom: Yuta Segawa’s miniature pots


Among all the contemporary products, it was unexpected to see a Japanese craftsman sitting on the floor and making a pair of scissors in the middle of the room. Coelacanth Shokudou is a design research centre from Hyogo Prefecture in Japan that utilises local resources and traditional skills to produce functional and high quality designs.

Another surprise discovery for me was Yuta Segawa‘s miniature pots at the UAL now exhibitors section. The Camberwell MA graduate’s vast array of ceramic vessels are delicate and delightful, I absolutely adore them!


tools for everyday lifetools for everyday lifetools for everyday lifewe do wood Noble and woodTotem Mill by Tylko

Top row: Tools for everyday life; 2nd left: We do wood; 2nd right: Cape light by Noble and wood; Bottom: Totem Mill by Tylko


As a stationery fan, it was hard for me to not fiddle with the range of stationery and other tools displayed at the Tools for everyday life stand. The research project examines how skilled manufacture can lead to beautiful things, allowing the designers a space to explore and reflect on ‘making’ as a commercially relevant process in the manufacture of functionally useful things. The collection of products and furniture are created by designers who studied BA (hons) 3D Design programme at Northumbria University. The objects are playful and captivating, and the high quality craftsmanship reveals the beauty of ubiquitous every day tools in the most direct manner.

In our technology-driven society today, designers have to respond, adapt and innovate quicker than ever before. Backed by design entrepreneur Yves Behar (founder of Fuse project),the Polish furniture startup Tylko launched an app that allows users to customise each furniture piece according to their own desire and see it in their own space. Will this type of parametric design and technology change the way we shop in the future? We shall wait and see, but it is always exciting to see designers pushing the boundaries and finding new methods to innovate.


Maggie's donation box by Benjamin HubertBenjamin Hubert

Top: Maggie’s donation box by Benjamin Hubert; Bottom: Talk by Benjamin Hubert


Last but not least, it was interesting to attend a talk by designer Benjamin Hubert (founder of Layer) on his new donation box design for Maggie’s ( cancer support centre) and Worldbeing, a self-directed wearable and app supported by the Carbon Trust that tracks carbon usage. Although it has been predicted that wearable technology will be as Big as smartphones in the years to come, I still have reservation about this trend. The flop of google glass and Apple Watch indicates that perhaps consumers are not ready yet. Is it due to design flaws or psychological reasons? Again, only time will tell.