Hangzhou, CAA, Bauhaus
by Hunter Zhu - Graphic and Media Design
During one weekend in mid-October, I headed for the Chinese Academy of Art in Hangzhou by bullet train, to pay a visit with great reverence to the newly built China Design Museum located on the campus grounds.
On April 8, 2018, which was the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Academy of Art, the China Design Museum (designed by renowned Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize) officially opened in much anticipation of the global arts community and museum circle. In terms of colors and materials, the exterior of the generally triangle-shaped museum is mainly made of Angolan red sandstone supplemented by French yellow sandstone. Siza artfully brought views of the outer landscape into the exhibition hall through giant windows which brought light, visual stimulation, and a feeling of openness to the otherwise tension-filled space. Siza reasonably planned both fixed and temporary exhibition spaces, and further extended the interior space to the exterior of the building to form several independently enclosed hanging yards, thereby largely enriching the variety of the museum’s flow lines.
The theme of the China Design Museum mainly revolves around the genealogy of Western modern design, especially examining Bauhaus and Western styles. Its construction and official opening announced to the international community that China finally possesses its first world-class design museum that effectively accommodates collections, exhibitions, research, and verification of domestic and foreign design works.
Currently, the China Design Museum has 7,010 collections of Western modern design series centered on Bauhaus, more than 30,000 collections of Italian menswear, more than 700 collections of American movie posters, and so on. Meanwhile, five design exhibitions also debuted: “Life World: The Collection of Western Modern Design,” “Subversion & Reshaping: The Collection of Massimo Osti Menswear,” “Bauhaus Imaginisita: Moving Away,” “Lvaro Siza-Beyond Architecture,” and “The Document Exhibition of Architecture Design of China Design Museum.”
I was able to visit the “Bauhaus Imaginisita: Moving Away” exhibit.
“Bauhaus is the melting pot of design philosophy.” Although the Bauhaus School was founded a century ago, the school technically has only existed for just 14 years. However, it effected remarkable changes by creating the earliest mass-inclined design culture with a challenging and pioneering spirit of reform. The movement left a lasting impact and legacy on a host of social and cultural domains.
The exhibit “Bauhaus Imaginisita: Moving Away” was jointly carried out by the Bauhaus Cooperation Organization (Berlin, Dessau, Weimar), the Goethe-Institut, and the House of World Cultures. Several curators collaborated on the project, such as Marion·Von·Osten, Grant·Watson, and copartners from China, Japan, Russia, Brazil, and so on. On the occasion of Bauhaus' centenary from March to June 2019, the Berlin House of World Cultures will hold a large horizontal show, in which “Bauhaus Imaginisita: Moving Away" of the China Design Museum will unveil four presentations around four significant Bauhaus objects with special significance: “Respond,” “Design Life,” “Borrow Ideas,” and “Eternal Spirit,” which will be comprehensively and intensively displayed.
“Bauhaus Imaginisita: Moving Away” exhibited 200 odd works from Germany, Holland, India, China, and other countries. What was shown indicated that the most essential part of the exhibition focused more on the theme “moving” instead of “Bauhaus.” Only about one-third of the total works displayed were from the Bauhaus period, while the rest depicted how Bauhaus went on to influence and inspire design in China, India, and the USSR. The 60 or so works by Chinese designers outlined the course of development of the ideological trend of modernist design centered on Bauhaus in China throughout the last century.
After visited this exhibition, I deeply realized how the design thinking of Bauhaus affect the modern design. They taught us how to express the beauty of lines and structure by mathematical calculating, what is less is more and the function is possible to combine with aesthetic perfectly. When bauhaus combining with the Japanese aesthetics, it comes out Muji, and if it combine with the American values, it comes out the highly functional office blocks with a attractive outlook, which can be sold by a good price, place in Chicago. I was wondering how would it be like when the Bauhaus thinking meet Chinese philosophy, after I entered CAA (Chinese Academy of Art) I think I had my answer of that question. All the buildings in CAA are the new Bauhaus style of design which full of concrete, but interestingly there are also tones of Chinese elements such as bamboo, cane and wooden block to decorate the building. The layout design of whole area of the university is just like a big size Suzhou manor. I can see many cabin just like ‘house of horn’ hidden in bamboo forest and style of minimalism bridges connected with buildings cross the river. “This place is an utopia in reality!”At that time I said to my friends with me.
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