alessi : (un)forbidden city
alessi : (un)forbidden city
nov 24, 2011

alessi : (un)forbidden city

‘(un)forbidden city’ by officina alessi  image courtesy of alessi




italian design factory alessi asked eight chinese architects to reinterpret one of the most archetypal of their products, the tray, in order to explore the potential of chinese product design. the results were shown in an exhibition curated by gary chang at aether art space in sanlitun for beijing design week 2011 entitled ‘(un)forbidden city’. gary chang was joined by chang yung ho, liu jiakun, ma yansong, urbanus, wang shu, zhang ke, and zhang lei. all eight architects stepped away from their usual large scale architecture projects and undertook industrial design.     
the collaboration was not just intended as an exploration of design at different scales, but rather as a bridge between two cultures. although vastly different, both china and italy have art and architecture rooted deep in their values and traditions. the exhibition was a visual manifestation of the combined efforts of both societies. 

alessi : (un)forbidden city

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


alessi : (un)forbidden city exhibition at aether art space in sanlitun beijing image © designboom 




the gallery space was transformed into a mahjong room, filled with 12 tables, eight of which displayed the tray prototypes. each table had four drawers opened to reveal LCD panels displaying detailed information about the products and the show itself. a specially commissioned soundtrack depicting the ambience of a mahjong room played in the background combined with the whispers of the eight design concepts. one table was set aside for a set of 144 mahjong blocks, each depicting one of alessi’s iconic products. the reading room, full of alessi products and publications was painted red to represent the color of the forbidden city.  



alessi : (un)forbidden city mahjong table  image © designboom 



alessi : (un)forbidden city chang yungho and gary chang enjoying a game of mahjong  image © designboom 



alessi : (un)forbidden city ‘floating earth’ by ma yansong  image © designboom 


read designboom’s article for more information about ‘floating earth’ by ma yansong. 

alessi : (un)forbidden city ‘jane’ by liu jiakun  image © designboom


read designboom’s article for more information about ‘jane’ by liu jiakun. 



alessi : (un)forbidden city ‘a lotus leaf’ by chang yungho image © designboom 


alessi : (un)forbidden city

images of the lotus leaf
pg. 120-121 of ‘(UN)forbidden city’ catalogue by officina alessi
image © designboom

alessi : (un)forbidden city

demonstration of reversible sides 
pg. 126-127 of ‘(UN)forbidden city’ catalogue by officina alessi
image © designboom

alessi : (un)forbidden city ‘trick and treat’ by architect and exhibit curator gary chang image © designboom 



alessi : (un)forbidden city detail of ‘trick and treat’  image © designboom 



alessi : (un)forbidden city ‘trayscape’ by urbanus image © designboom



alessi : (un)forbidden city

concept image of ‘trayscape’ within a city scape 
pg. 198-199 of ‘(UN)forbidden city’ catalogue by officina alessi
image © designboom

alessi : (un)forbidden city ‘clouds root’ by wang shu image © designboom 



alessi : (un)forbidden city

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

alessi : (un)forbidden city ‘ming’ by zhang ke image © designboom 



alessi : (un)forbidden city rendering of ‘ming’ image courtesy of alessi



alessi : (un)forbidden city ‘opposition’ by zhang lei image © designboom 



alessi : (un)forbidden city (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

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