flow(t): gaoxin middle school

Year: 2014
Size: 1,000 m2
Type: exhibition
Status: completed
Location: Beijing, China
Client: Vision Magazine

Partners in charge: Nicola Saladino, Federico Ruberto, Chen Chen
Design team: Virginia Savoini, Maria Francesca Di Alessandro, Shu Gao, Ruonan Liu, Yifu Liu, Aniruddha Mukherjee, Alessandro Basile


The project, a reMIX collaboration with Vision Lab, is a temporary exhibition space designed to contain the works of 6 artistic liaisons, each one composed by the couple chef/designer and each one focused, via different techniques, on rethinking the relationship between food and design – between object-craftsmanship and food-preparation. The event took place in a 1000 m2 restaurant-gallery filled with "artworks", the most diverse and inconsistent panorama of objects ranging from erotic allegories, reinterpretation of political icons, to pseudo-traditional Chinese furniture, which we reduced to shadows, veiling their presence without excluding it with the use of projections on semi-transparent canvases.

Given this scenario, we offered a multi-scalar approach consisted in the design and the realization of:
-the prefabricated structure
-the video projections and the lighting effects
-the exhibition content and its graphical elements
-the dress code of the waiters
-the soundtrack

The project result was challenged by several constrictions and unforeseeable contingencies that made the final result uncertain till the very moment of the exhibition opening. We had 3 weeks of off-site preparation to design and prefabricate the structural modules which had to be self-standing as we could not touch the existing walls and ceiling, to cut and refine the lycra veils and test the lighting effects. Finally we could count only on the 12 hours before the event to access the space for the assemblage.

From the exhibition

The space we designed, an alchemical laboratory, displays processes of gustative creation, mixing them as ephemeral forms for aesthetic expression, acts of sensorial consumption. Slicing, chopping, mixing, drying, heating, freezing, pasteurizing, fermenting, are the techniques of material meta-formation; proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fibres, vitamins, and minerals are the mutable elements contained in any of the displayed photographs, videos and experiments. They transmute contaminating the space, becoming the visual ingredients of the laboratory in an alchemy of effects, chemical additives, transformations; an aesthetics of mists and ungraspable projections.

Cooking and designing hybridize in the tunnel through the transformation of matter in the very tradition of alchemy. They deal with the contingencies of the place in which they operate, both grabbing their peculiar localities and transforming the materials at their disposal. They are aesthetic and sensorial syntheses, performative economies subjected to the laws of matter; both are bound to decay and subjected to transformation, though, happening at very different paces... The spatial transformation and the material transmutation are intrinsically similar: they happen to share the changing ephemeral presence of the tunnel, which displays inter-breed culinary-design experimentations. The exhibition tunnel evolves from an aseptic spatiality into an alembic of labile, transient, fleeting, perishable and combustible affections.

The space cannot be grasped formally in its entirety; it is not a shape but a shapeless experience, a sensual and sensorial act of exploration. It is a process of discovery where the axiomatic constriction of the architectural boundaries is unbridled, unleashed, undefined... an event of sensorial degustation; in sum, a haptic Vision...