alessi and wang shu: the pritzker prize winner designs clouds root
alessi and wang shu: the pritzker prize winner designs clouds root alessi and wang shu: the pritzker prize winner designs clouds root
mar 04, 2012

alessi and wang shu: the pritzker prize winner designs clouds root

pritzker prize winner wang shu of amateur architecture studio designed a tray set for italian manufacturer alessi‘s (UN)forbidden city collection. one is big and the other small; one male and the other female. they meet by chance in one point, leaving space between them. the material is mirror polished steel, to virtually represent the relationship between illusion and reality. the irregular shape is visually balanced by the straight edges and the use of solid steel, with a firm, rigid border profile.

wang shu and curator gary chang



with these words, wang shu summarises the ideas behind his design: ‘this project originates from memory. chinese academics love to compare the elusiveness of clouds to the inconsistency of human emotions. the stones in the gardens of academics are clouds but they also represent the love between a man and a woman. this design is driven by my memory of stones in gardens. we always hope to achieve a sound basis in a life that is continually changing, something solid like stone. for this reason, the stones in the gardens are called ‘clouds root’. I chose the same name for my tray. the design phase involves forging an image and an uncertain emotion with the utmost precision.’

diagram illustrating the origin of the shape
pg. 212-213 of ‘(UN)forbidden city’ catalogue by officina alessi
image © designboom

‘clouds root’ tray, design by wang shu



designboom visited the preview exhibition of the (un)forbidden city research, which was presented in september 2011 at the china shijintan contemporary art center in beijing, during BDW / beijing design week.

‘(un)forbidden city’ by officina alessi

‘clouds root’ prototype by wang shu
image © designboom



with the (UN)forbidden city collection alessi sought to organize the first exploration of the potential of chinese product design. under the project responsibility of gary chang, they asked eight chinese architects to design a tray-container. the tray, in fact, is a classic in the alessi range of production – an item on which generations of designers have put themselves to the test. alessi wants it to be a testing ground for experimentation: such a seemingly simple object offers a great starting point for an exchange of ideas about the relations between architecture and design, beginning from the cultural traditions of the east and west.

portraits of the eight architects
(left to right) gary chang, chang yungho, liu jiakun, ma yansong, urbanus, wang shu, zhang ke, zhang lei
pg. 82-83 of ‘(UN)forbidden city’ catalogue by officina alessi
image © designboom

curator’s statement in the ‘(UN)forbidden city’ catalogue by officina alessi
image © designboom

(from left to right) wang shu, zhang lei, alberto alessi, gary chang, chang yungho, zhang ke, meng yan and wang hui of urbanus
image courtesy of alessi

  • The Art of Political Decision Making

    Jan says:
  • there are way too many exclamation marks in the official statement for me to take this project seriously.

    Lara says:
  • o very new leave sth。

    lon says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,380 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample