Eight months ago, Hong Kong Tatler and Louis Vuitton came together to forge a platform that would celebrate collaboration and creativity. The resulting project, entitled Uncharted Territories, saw eight of the city’s most interesting and influential artists and creatives—chosen for their influence and relevance in their respective fields—work together in pairs to produce expressions on a theme: the spirit of travel. The participants were motivated not only by the rare opportunity to work in unlikely couplings but also by the chance to inspire and energise fellow artists in the city’s burgeoning scene. Guided by curator William Zhao, the four teams were given full artistic freedom to produce works that capture travel in its multifarious definitions—physical, spiritual and otherwise. The works are highly personal statements yet all point to the transient nature of Hong Kong, a metropolis that has evolved rapidly to become a global hub, a node where culture and commerce vie for attention.
Artist Adrian Wong, co-founder of art studio Embassy Projects, teamed up with designer Joyce Wang, who’s behind the plush interiors of Mott 32 and the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, to check into the world of hotel rooms and how they are used
"It’s the kind of place where you can eat a pizza in bed, you leave towels on the floor and you come back and they’re magically gone,” Adrian says, describing the suspended reality of a hotel room. “It’s supposed to be this utopian area where everything has its use and everything has its place, but in reality, when you’re jetlagged and scrambling to get from meeting to meeting, it becomes a place where the normal world kind of falls apart.”
It didn’t take long for Adrian and Joyce, who both travel regularly, to agree on the theme of hotel rooms—and what they don’t like about them. “We shared a lot of negativity about hotel rooms and why they feel absurd. We discussed the really odd pieces of furniture hotels have,” says Joyce. “Like the luggage rack—this clunky thing that’s meant to make life easier but in reality always feels like it irks more than it alleviates stress.” Adrian agrees: “You have this duality of the prescribed, programmed function of a hotel room and the actual function coming into collision on a regular basis.”
An Adult Playground
Intending to capture this duality, they focused on how people treat hotel rooms as playgrounds and decided to create a small room framework from copper piping, a material traditionally used in children’s playgrounds. “We started thinking about how ‘adult playgrounds’ and children’s playgrounds have a lot in common in terms of language and materials used. These metal tubular shapes, things hanging from them, chains,” says Joyce.
Dance and Dialogue
The piece will also have a performance element, designed to highlight the contrast between check-in, when hotel staff proudly show guests the features of a room, and the reality of the way it ends up being used. “For the staff it’s a kind of temple of perfection,” says Joyce. “Whereas once the door closes, guests feel like they can do whatever they want in the room. It becomes a backdrop for scandal.” Two dancers will act out the push and pull between the supervisors of the space and the guests.
Ultimately, the piece is intended as “a way to open up a dialogue about interior design and what it’s for,” says Adrian. “And how much of that is objective and based on the needs of the user and how much of it is something a little more psychedelic or abstract.”
Follow the progress of the other teams through our behind-the-scenes videos.
This article was printed in the December 2016 issue of Hong Kong Tatler.