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Breaking Boundaries | Chair, Desk, Wall or Architecture?

Entrusted by Shenzhen Institute of Interior Design, Various Associates conceived the pavilion for DESIGN IN BAY AREA Exhibition, as the representative of Shenzhen.

DESIGN IN BAY AREA was co-organized by several design institutes from the Greater Bay Area, and was co-curated by 21 designers from 8 cities in the region. As conceiving the exhibition hall, Various Associates had to consider Shenzhen's leading role in this event while also taking account of the demands and characters of all design institutes involved.

Photographed by Zebing Li / Yongmao Li

01 Concept

With favourable geographic conditions, Shenzhen has developed into a charming modern metropolis over the decades, and trade ports have become one of its economic pillars. Meanwhile, like ocean waves, talents are rapidly pushing the city forward.

The sea is inclusive as it admits hundreds of rivers, so is Shenzhen. It's a quite inclusive and vigorous city. Various Associates took its character as the design inspiration and thread, which surrounds the exhibitions of the eight cities. The team hoped to enable cultural exchanges and fusion among the cities, and to express the infinities of design. That's how the design concept and storyline "Wave" came into being.

02 Prototype generation

Various Associates adopted recycled materials and modular construction method to reduce waste. The modular units enabled rapid assembly and disassembly on the site, and were also easy for transportation and storage. The design team abandoned "cool" reinforced concrete structures, but chose panels made from waste plastic and wood instead, to realize recycle and reuse of materials.

03 Reuse of wasted plastic & wood

04 Chair, desk, wall or architecture?

Various Associates intended to break the boundary of the structures, which can shift among modules, space and architecture, in order to show more variations and possibilities. As deepening the form, the team also emphasized the productization and functionality of modules. Moreover, considering that furniture manufacturing industry is another distinctive feature of Shenzhen, the designers turned each modular unit into a valuable piece of furniture, which can be combined in various playful manners.

"We hope to break the singular function of products. For instance, desk is a simple and common object in our daily life, but it can also be turned into wall, space or architecture rather than being restricted to its inherent function. We want to show the public more fun and imagination, and allow them to easily perceive the charm of design." Various Associates founder explained.

As conceiving the modules, the design team referred to traditional mortise-and-tenon joints and the way that wooden furniture is assembled, and at the same time incorporated the flowing form of ocean waves. In this manner, they eventually figured out the shape of modular units, which were named "Wave".

05 Assembly

06 Open day

The designers adopted environment-friendly, sustainable and quantifiable design approaches to work out the spatial pattern and circulation solutions, while also time subtly integrating the elements of products, furniture and pavilion, thereby producing a flexible spatial form that can be adjusted on the site according to different demands.

07 Disassembly & Reuse

Bearing in mind the intentions of pollution reduction, environment protection and material reuse, Various Associates entrusted the organizer and the party in charge of dismantling work to recycle the modules after the exhibition, and send them to the next destination,a school project they are working on.

Those "Waves" will be utilized to modular assembly in art teaching activities in Art high school and will be also turned into installations, useful tables and chairs.


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