In/Output brings Alan Chan, Michael Leung and Rony Chan’s love of objects to the fore. Christie Lee reports.
April 30th, 2014
Tucked away in unassuming commercial building on Gloucester Road in Wanchai is Gallery 27. Headed by Hong Kong designer and brand consultant Alan Chan, the privately-owned gallery plays host to a range of design and art shows that veer towards the unexpected and experimental.
The latest of its kind, In/Output is conceived by Chan, Hong Kong-based design firm MIRO, and online platform Things We Like, helmed by Michael Leung and Rony Chan. While the show title cheekily references the workflow in your typical office, expect nothing ‘ordinary’ from the exhibition itself.
Upon entering the gallery one comes face-to-face with a sumptuous salvo of objets d’art sourced from Asia and Europe, among which include a Twemco AP-28 flip clock from 1956. The world’s only manufacturer of fully automatic flip clocks for over 50 years, Twemco’s endearing designs are still used in local banks and train stations.
Given Chan’s fascination with typography, on display was also an enviable compilation of Chinese stamps and an early 20th century mahjong set, all sourced from flea markets in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. Besides delivering on the aesthetics front, they also provide, according to the curators, a “careful study of the positive and negative space (the yin and yang) of the Chinese craft of seal-carving.”
All talk of rare and precious objects aside, the real strength of the exhibition lies in the way these objects are being arranged. To quote the curatorial statement: “In this material world, people are surrounded by manufactured objects – the good, the bad and the ugly. Because of the inertia of their existence we have become numb to their influence on our everyday mood and behavior. These objects, their forms, colours and functions, affect how we perceive this world and how or what we create… the exhibition… explores the stories between (design) objects, their creators, their owners and the people whom they have inspired.”
Objects at In/Ouput are grouped together according to type, form, texture, or simply because they evoke similar emotions. Look out for such whimsical and unexpected pairings as a 1969 Olivetti The Valentine Portable Typewriter and a prototype of the Miss Blanche, a liquid acrylic resin chair dreamt up by Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata in 1988. While functionality is at the heart of both designs, both are imbued with their own quirky romantic element.
Meanwhile, a mini globe made by British toymaker Chad Valley, two vintage Minox cameras and a Zeiss Ikon Movinette 8B are grouped together on the first table. Here, the connection is more obvious – they’re all instruments through which we ‘see’ the world, both literally and metaphorically.
One of this writer’s favourites would have to be the pairing up of a classic Braun HL 1 Fan and two bracelets. Designed by Reinhold Weiss in 1961, the fan has been lauded for its simplicity and design-driven functionality. The bracelets were made by twisting a single piece of ivory or ceramic around a strand of wire. While not immediately apparent, their resemblance to one another extends beyond colour and texture – they’re both underpinned by the simplicity of form.
In/Output runs until May 23 at Gallery 27.
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