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M+ announces inaugural display of the museum's groundbreaking design collection
Hao Zhenhan, imitation · imitation — Antique Market, 2016. Courtesy of the designer. © Hao Zhenhan.

HONG KONG.- M+, the new museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, announces Shifting Objectives: Design from the M+ Collection, the inaugural display of the museum’s groundbreaking design collection—the first of its kind in Asia. Shifting Objectives runs until February 5, 2017. It is the second show to be mounted at the new M+ Pavilion, a permanent space on the West Kowloon site that hosts the museum’s exhibitions until the opening of the M+ building in late 2019.

Including more than 120 works spanning from 1937 until now that have been acquired, or are under consideration for acquisition, by the museum, Shifting Objectives provides a preview of the scope and breadth with which M+ is approaching design and the object, focusing on the latters’ changing roles and meanings in the 20th and 21st centuries, as seen from the museum’s vantage point in Asia.

With an exhibition design by the Hong Kong-based studio COLLECTIVE, Shifting Objectives comprises two primary sections:

“Histories” draws out some of the ways in which M+ is telling, constructing, and revisiting the historical, narratives of design in Asia, within a global, transnational context. Spanning the second half of the 20th century, a series of five vignettes, or “rooms,” offer tightly-edited snapshots of how design helped shape, and was shaped by, the social, cultural, economic, and political milieus of, respectively, post-World War II Japan; post-independence India; China under Mao; and Hong Kong’s manufacturing and export heyday of the 1950s until the 1980s. The fifth “room” re-examines postmodern design of the 1970s and 1980s, offering a new interpretation of that international phenomenon as seen primarily through the work of its Japanese practitioners. Highlights of the “Histories” section range from key designs by Yusaku Kamekura, Sori Yanagi, Charlotte Perriand, Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottsass, to Mao-era propaganda posters, iconic 1960s and 1970s plastics by the Hong Kong brand Red A, and an early example of the world’s first commercially successful electric rice cookers, produced by Toshiba beginning in 1955.

“Constellations” takes a more open-ended approach to design, leaning towards the contemporary. Inviting audiences to form their own connections and interpretations, the approximately 40 works in this section, arranged in an open field, suggest the many ways of situating design and the object, whether through the reinvention of craft; assemblages of found objects; digitally-enabled design and fabrication processes; the reformulation of text, images, and interactions; the prism of power relations; or evolving notions of copying. Highlights range from important works by Japanese studio nendo, Hong Kong designer and artist Stanley Wong, Chinese designer Li Naihan, the Swedish group Front, and British designer Jasper Morrison, to the Sony AIBO (1999), first-edition emojis (1999), and items recently acquired at Huaqiangbei, the electronics district of Shenzhen.

Shifting Objectives: Design from the M+ Collection is organised by Aric Chen, Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, with Jennifer Wong, Assistant Curator, Design and Architecture. The M+ collection of design and architecture currently includes more than 2,500 works out of a total collection of around 6,000.

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