Art Installation and lounge design by ESKYIU commissioned by Swire Properties for Art Basel Hong Kong 2022.

ESKYIU was invited by Swire Properties to spearhead the design ideation for their VIP lounge at Hong Kong’s Art Basel 2022. Within a context of unpredictable demands and urgency resulting from a global pandemic, a new attitude for the approach to the ‘intimate’ lounge space became appropriate. Woven into the brief was the need for a uniquely controlled social territory that was at once enclosed and open, public and private, exclusive and inclusive – to elevate the launch of Swire’s energetic new campaign of ‘Original. Always’.

PROPAGATION is an installation directly inspired by and responding to the evocative nature of environmental Artist Alison Crowther’s “Kissing Benches”, normally housed at the lobby of Pacific Place 3 Tower in Hong Kong. Sculpted in 2018 by the artist herself, the timber tones of the two three meter benches have deepened with maturity and exposure over the years. Through this process of collecting imprints and traces of life across their rhythmic grain, they embrace time’s natural processes; celebrating cyclical seasonal transformation as per the sculptors original intention.

Through PROPAGATION, ESKYIU cultivates a dynamic new life cycle and urgency for these understated oak pieces – inserting them into a new context of movement, sound and art, where they become the anchor points for an explosive, curvilinear extension. Via the introduction of an array of 201 parametrically detailed timber profiles radiating outwards from their ends – the forms of the two 3-meter benches are gesturally ‘grown’. The result: a unified, undulating 21-meter expression that unfurls across the exhibition floor – rising and falling, connecting, embracing as it goes – carving territory gently without walls, and generating new relationships of body, threshold and form.

With this re-contextualization and activation of the Kissing Benches is fostered a new, contemporary sensibility. In providing an elongated, lyrical gesture integrating the original benches, the Lounge becomes an enticing, connective landscape inviting art enthusiasts of all ages to explore its thresholds, rest points and crescendos nestled amongst a field of Monstera Deliciosa.

As well as tracing a playful, surging silhouette across the atrium space – blending softly into the Kissing Benches themselves – the characteristic variation of the additive timber panels serves a range of functional purposes. In a lounge without formal walls, the installation acts as both focal point and defining boundary. Doorway, reception desk, storage unit, seating area, play structure are all served within a consistent line at a fixed width of 40cm – while gradual, often indeterminate boundaries between these programs generates playful moments of ambiguity.

An absence of lateral bracings between panels lends a lightness to the extension, contrasting the weight and solidity of solid Oak structures adjacent. From key viewing points, a blue edged subtraction snaking through the profiles is visible – a subtle flash of colour in celebration of Swire’s 50-year anniversary, and celebration of the creative communities at Hong Kong’s core that shape and reshape its vibrant culture.

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Project Details:

Location: Level 1 Concourse, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Expo Drive, Wan Chai, HK.

Date: March 24th -29th 2022


Design Principals: Eric Schuldenfrei and Marisa Yiu; Architectural Designer: Jay Jordan

Artist: Alison Crowther

Copyright: © 2022, All rights reserved.

Photos by © ESKYIU