Future Home Idea : Freeman Lau Siu-hong The “Rethinking Bamboo” Pavillion
For years humans have been searching for the right ways to co-exist with nature. While there isn’t a definite answer to that yet, but in a post COVID-19 world there is certainly a new set of challenges needing to be addressed, including for those working in the field of design. Jointly initiated by famed interior designer Steve Leung and Guangzhou Design Week (GZDW), “International Design Carnival”, or IDC, debuted at the Haizhu National Wetland Park located at the heart of Guangzhou. The inaugural theme of this carnival-style event for design idea exchange is “Ecological Wisdom. Design for the Future”. We will be speaking with some of the maestros from the event who will also be sharing with us the interesting stories behind their featured works. Hong Kong design veteran Freeman Lau Siu-hong is our first guest.
Reconnecting Design With the Public
One of the popular criticisms made towards the design industry is its detachment from the community at large, thus making the design community a remote and reclusive one. This inspires Steve Leung to launch IDC with GZDW in a bid to reconnect everything design with the outside world.
The IDC design expo is about creativity and diversity. It provides a platform for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and each of its thematic pavilions showcases an interpretation of better living through the power of creativity. When visitors walk into the lakeside expo venue of IDC, they can instantly experience how design, cultural arts, music, and technology evolve and influence our everyday life while having a stroll along the Haizu lake. Making design accessible is exactly what IDC hopes to achieve – in this public space the crowd can easily interact with the works created by design masters and learn about design. However, the key function of a design expo after all is to connect or match-make those in the industry. Therefore, IDC has also set up an “Ecological Space” featuring a Future City Lounge to host forums, salons, cocktail parties, etc. The lounge particularly uses wetland life and urban landmarks as its backdrop and functions as an important idea exchange platform.
“Homes” by 8 Design Masters - Part 1: “Rethinking Bamboo”
Designs ought to be human-centric and guiding us into the future. IDC is a design expo that brings the public into the picture and intends to be stimulating to the minds. Eight design masters have created their very own pavilions for the expo, embodying their imaginations about Future Homes and hoping to inspire the public to think about their way of life. The featured design masters include: the Zaha Hadid design team, Sou Fujimoto, He Duoling, Freeman Lau, Steve Leung, Liang Jianguo, Ju Bin, and Idan Chiang. They were joined by the IDC advisors Tino Kwan, Sun Hu and Tan Si in lighting, landscaping and design functions when creating these Future Homes.
When talking about these Future Homes, Freeman Lau chose “bamboo” as his design theme to express his reflections towards living a life under the pandemic and the inspirations he gained from it. He actually already held an exhibition under the theme “Rethinking Bamboo” before at the First Beijing International Design Triennial in 2011 in which he curated 200 items of bamboo-themed design and architectural pieces. Lau’s bamboo exploration originates from that project, followed by the publication of a book under the same title. This time, when creating the Rethinking Bamboo pavilion for IDC, Lau invited Zhu Xiaojie and Chen Feijie as co-curators. The result is an architecture that uses bamboo and modern techniques to express Chinese philosophies and craftsmanship.
Asked why he thinks bamboo is a fitting symbol for Future Homes, Lau says the pavilion itself is his answer. “The pandemic has caused us to think differently about our homes. Our way of life has changed and we have spent much more time at home. Making new observations of our living space is our common experiences in the new normal.” He adds that building houses with bamboos stem from our traditional wisdom and now he is just conjecturing this conversation with nature in a brand new form.
The Rethinking Bamboo pavilion is formed of four exhibition rooms encased in a bamboo structure where natural patterns can be clearly seen. Achieved by traditional craftsmanship, this crisscrossing and interwoven bamboo structure does not only provide the structural support for the whole building but also visibly connects all four exhibition rooms of bamboo furniture and art pieces together. Its sophisticated dome design also incorporates natural lighting, symbolising its connection with nature.
Visitors can actually bring some of the bamboo exhibits (i.e. furniture) home. “There are three groups of bamboo furniture being shown here. The first group includes those made with genuine traditional techniques and they are comparatively older; the second group includes products by some international brands that I invited to be exhibited here. And those products were made in Shenzhen; the third group features a line of bamboo products designed by my exhibition partner Chen Feijie and they are for sale,” says Lau.
Modern buildings are often made from reinforced concrete, thus displacing the need for bamboos as well as its importance in construction. However, bamboo is actually a green and durable construction material. On the one hand, the carbon footprint is far lower when transporting bamboos comparing with other construction materials; on the other hand, given there are already lots of data proving the durability of bamboos as a building material, they can easily become a vehicle for us to blend ourselves with the nature.
Returning to our discussion of Future Homes. “Mastery, Wisdom, Vitality and Happiness” are the four key elements in Freeman Lau’s design, or in fact they form his design belief and attitude. The aesthetics of bamboos reflects just that. The incorporation of bamboo craftsmanship in this architectural work demonstrates how traditional wisdom being passed down through generations. It also shows how such intricate design can still be relevant today, shining a healthy and happy way of life even we are in the new normal.
From Editorial Board: Although IDC is now postponed to further notice, you may still have chance to enjoy Freeman’s show in other circumstances. This year BODW invited Freeman as one of the guest speakers of the below sessions:
Rewriting the Blueprint of Future Homes
Date : Dec 3 (Fri)
Time : 2:00-2:45pm (45 mins)
Design for Asia Forum 2: Creative Voices from Hong Kong to Japan
Date : Dec 4 (Sat)
Time : 11:25am-12:05nn (40 mins)