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FoldHaus Is Bringing Larger-Than-Life Kinetic Flora To Pacific Place

San Francisco-based art collective FoldHaus will soon install poetic kinetic sculptures that will light up, change colour and sway in response to visitors to a ‘LUMENous GARDEN’.

  • SHRUMEN LUMEN, photo by Rene Smith

  • BLUMEN LUMEN, photo by Bill Hornstein



BY Rik Glauert

March 11th, 2019


Shoppers at one of Hong Kong’s most luxurious shopping malls are in for an unexpected chance to delight in the childish wonder of something purely bizarre. The courtyard of Pacific Place will host larger-than-life kinetic flora by San Francisco-based art collective FoldHaus. The colourful mushrooms and flowers – named SHRUMEN LUMEN and BLUMEN LUMEN respectively – will light up, change colour, bloom and sway as visitors approach.

It is a rare chance for adults to act like children, say designers Joerg Student and Jesse Silver. “We hope that our installation will help visitors slow down and take a break from their busy shopping day,” they say.

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“The invitation to interact and play with the sculptures allows people to discover their inner child, let go of what they might be focused on, and simply be in the moment.”

FoldHaus

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FoldHaus originally created the installations for the Burning Man music and arts festival, which takes place in the Nevada desert in the US. FoldHaus wanted to bring a little more life to the desert by mimicking natural, familiar shapes.

FoldHaus-LUMENous-GARDEN_BLUMEN-LUMEN-Photo-credit-Bill-Hornstein

BLUMEN LUMEN, photo by Bill Hornstein

Origami, paper folding, and geometric shapes informed the designs. They were also inspired by the beautiful patterns and symmetry found in leaves, flowers and micro-organisms. “Our art balances this modern tension between the technological world and our natural world, by using engineering and design to bring community, origami and nature to life,” the designers say.

They folded mushroom heads and flower buds out of single flat pieces of corrugated polypropylene plastic. The relatively cheap packaging and building material generally looks opaque. But, when FoldHaus switch on the 4,000 LEDs inside the mushrooms and 800 LEDs inside the flowers, the material beautifully diffuses the light.

FoldHaus-LUMENous-GARDEN_SHRUMEN-LUMEN-Photo-credit-Rene-Smith

SHRUMEN LUMEN, photo by Rene Smith

The gradients of light between where the folds are made give a very natural feel. Polypropylene is also waterproof and relatively durable for installations that will be outdoors. “Since people come to the courtyard to relax and take a break from shopping, we chose mostly slow colour changes, often inspired by the colours of the rainbow,” FoldHaus explains.

FoldHaus-Profile-Photo

The FoldHaus team

It was not easy for FoldHaus to adapt the installations from the US desert to the inside of a Hong Kong shopping mall. First of all, a specialist team was flown in to oversee the reassembly of these huge machines, which had to be dissembled for transport. What’s more, SHRUMEN LUMEN and BLUMEN LUMEN were designed to be installed outdoors – with the structures anchored to the soil and power and data lines concealed beneath the ground. For the indoor courtyard of Pacific Place, FoldHaus worked with local partners in Hong Kong to create a series of mounds of steel, wood and artificial grass to visually and physically anchor the pieces.

 

LUMENous GARDEN will be on display at the Pacific Place courtyard from 19 March to 14 April 2019.