A simultaneous showcase of virtual and physical exhibitions in celebration of the annual event
deTour 2021, Hong Kong’s design festival, makes its annual returns to central PMQ from 26 November to 12 December. Organised at PMQ and sponsored by Create Hong Kong, the 2021 deTour festival is a collaborative effort between local creative Shin Wong with Trilingual Design’s Chris Tsui and Adonian Chan that links the virtual with the physical through interactive exhibitions, design seminars and workshops under the singular theme “Use(fu)less”. Though rudimentary concepts and thinking, the exhibition encourages audiences to actively rethink the very basic functions of design.
deTour 2021 is divided into three main exhibitions presented via 37 workshops and 12 design lectures in both virtual and physical formats, available to the public for free:
International Collaboration: Sputniko! “Red Silk of Fate – The Shrine”
There’s a single common symbol that ties together Chinese, Japanese and Korean mythologies: the “Red Silk of Fate”. Believed to be tied by the gods to two people that are destined to be together.
It is the common subject for Japanese-British artist Sputniko!, who has brought the symbol to life with biotech scientists from NIAS, spun by engineered silkworms and injected with the social-bonding love hormone, oxytocin. Featured through a selection of mediums, from costume design to Japanese short films, each offers an alternative possibility and potential to the red silk thread.
For deTour 2021, especially Sputniko! has collaborated with local design firm, Napp Studio & Architects, for a brand-new reimagining of this mythical silk thread. Carefully ribboned through a piece of fabric, the piece is folded to replicate an ancient shrine that’s dedicated to love. It carries new meanings of beliefs and desires, emotions and purpose. Backed by diffused lighting to mimic the soft glow of moonlight, guests are encouraged to admire the ornate floral patterns, and with the ancient lore still fresh in mind, reflect on the meaning of emotion and connection during the time of social distancing, and how innovative biotechnology has granted new meanings to time-honoured tales.
Curators’ Choice: Four design installations that present the power of collaboration
- Philosophy x Design: I know not what CAFÉ (Upper left)
- Sound x Design: The Interpreter (Upper right)
- Typography X Design: Type–11 (Lower left)
Does typography matter?
- Sports x Design: Strong Hold Pavilion (Lower right)
The growing popularity of bouldering has opened up new avenues for a deeper understanding of the sport. Indoor bouldering, for example, relies on more conversation and communication of discussions regarding climbing routes and techniques in comparison to outdoor climbing. More importantly, it allows encouragement that can effectively motivate climbers to push further.
Hong Kong rock climbing athlete, Au Chi Fung, joins sustainable designer, Match Chen, in the creation of “Strong Hold Pavilion”, an experimental installation that explores the effectiveness of team camaraderie and verbal motivation. Can the presence of a full team push you further than an individual practice? Guided by a common training technique in sport climbing –– “hang-boarding” –– viewers are challenged to physically put this theory to the test and discover the “useful” and ‘uselessness” of team camaraderie and verbal motivation in the occasion of self-performance.
Selected Entries: 10 locally sourced design groups share creative angles
deTour has always operated as an inspiration space for creativity and open exchange between various design facets. This year’s open call entries were met with an enthusiastic response, receiving over 120 design proposals. Along with professional design teams, this year’s deTour 2021 extended to design students. 10 exhibitors were selected based on the 2021 “Use(fu)less” theme and covers an extensive range of concepts including living environment, technology, interpersonal relationship and spatial design. Two highlights include:
- “ELDER”, designed by JONO Craftspace (Left) – Inspired by the bones in our bodies, “ELDER” reimagines the basic framework of the human figure through the lens of precision manufacturing borne out of the Industrial Revolution. Wood scraps are ingeniously engineered with bionics to replicate the spine, with industry hardware posing as tendons and muscles. It presents a moving art installation that asks, “Can we replicate function shapes of bones in design?” Like those in the human body, the ‘bones’ are subjected to “evolution” overtime to learn new functions –– in this case, the adding of connecting parts impart new meaning and a structural purpose to defunct pieces of wood.
- “Work in the Woods” (Right) – Ideated by three architects, Anson Kwan, Jackie Cheung and Ryan Tung, who collectively graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture at the University of London, “Work in the Woods” subjects its viewer to a futuristic look into a mixed work-life reality in Hong Kong’s micro apartments. Inspired by the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, changing realities have prompted us to reassess how we live in the future, with a growing desire to work from home. Redefining the meaning of a traditional workspace, “Work in the Woods” reimagines a space that is intuitive and physical to transform banal working routines.
Special Exhibition: Sci-Fi artist Lucy McRae on the future of human existence
To encourage further reflection on an item’s intrinsic Use(fu)less”, deTour 2021 invites world-renowned Sci-Fi artist and body architect, Lucy McRae. She is widely known for her thought-provoking pieces that comment on the future state of humankind through installations, photography, artificial intelligence, edible technology and film.
At PMQ, McRae shares five of her most iconic pieces that reflect this subject through exploring various limits of the body, beauty, biotechnology and the self. It’s a continuation of her exploration of the cultural and emotional impact on science and technology in redesigning the body and the state of the “Future” viewed while questioning “Who am I?”
A virtual exploration of exhibitions and design dialogues at deTour
As exhibitions at deTour are available in both physical and virtual formats, it has allowed deTour to become a destination for design enthusiasts near and afar. The installations are all accessible online through the official website, which is dissected into a short explanation and an accompanying audio track. The track can be played and paused throughout for easy addition of noted connotations at points where the listener feels are useful or useless — fitting into the design festival overall theme “Use(fu)less”. For digital visitors, design dialogues are available online and easily accessed via YouTube. It is these interactive features that have allowed deTour to bring a successful, multi-faceted experience to a wider audience.
For more information on virtual design festivals, please check back on social media.
For more information on the deTour2021 Design Festival, please visit: http://detour.hk
Opening Hours for deTour 2021 Design Festival:
Date: 26 November 2021 – 12 December 2021
(Official showing of Sputniko! “Red Silk of Fate – The Shrine“ on 27 November)
Time: 11am to 8pm (11am to 4pm on 26 November)
Address: PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Price: Free Entry
About deTour 2021 Virtual Festival:
Date: From now till 31 Dec 2021