B/Side Design | The Global School – ongoing



B/Side Design is an international organization engineering programs of urban and social impact, from the vantage point of China.

We set off the first steps in 2017 and we are now running projects in and out of China. My long time friend Sarah Orlando is the other half of it. She is a passionate and creative business leader, taking enlightened pragmatism and an administrative touch of discipline to my delirious ramblings.

B/Side is an inclusive partnership looking at establishing three core business units under: B/Side Reserach, B/Side Education and B/Side Things.

It spearhaded the establishment of The Global School, China’s first independent institute dedicated to design and creative research.

You can read more about the ongoings at www.bside.design

Thank you for following – and be in touch if any of what you see there inspires!



A Day in an Open City – Hong Kong 2019


Organized by The Palace Museum (Beijing) and Phoenix TVwith Bank of China (Hong Kong) as chief charity partner

Exhibition Curated by Beatrice Leanza | B/Side Design

July 26 – August 25, 2019 | Asian World Expo – Hall 3 | Hong Kong

“Springtime Along the River“ 清明上河图 is one of the most iconic works in world art history preserved in the collection of The Palace Museum in Beijing‘ s Forbidden City, a hand-scroll painting attributed to the artist Zhang Zeduan and completed around the beginning of the 11th century. A masterpiece of literary and visual depiction measuring 5.28m in length and 24.8cm in height, ”Springtime Along The River“ is a repository of situated historical knowledge around the cultural, economic and social ecologies of a large metropolis in the 11th century, i.e. Bianjing, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty that is today Kaifeng city.

Co-organized by The Palace Museum (Beijing) and Phoenix TV with Bank of China (HK) as chief charity partner, the project is hosted in a 4000sqm hall at the Asian World Expo, where the unprecedented exhibition A Day in An Open City together with a relevant Library section curated by Beatrice Leanza accompanies the monumental Hayday Scroll a 2.5 digital animation of the painting presented on a 5m high and 30m long ultra-high-definition projection previously shown in Beijing, and a 180-degree Dome Theatre that allows visitors to experience a virtual boat ride on the Bian river, both developed by Phoenix Digital Technology.

The space also hosts an events area that will feature programs on various topics relevant to the paintings and Song Dynasty, an area for kids dubbed Song Dynasty Park and a gift shop with newly designed items. 

About the Exhibition

In the painstaking minutiae of its details, “Springtime Along the River“ embodies progressive values of urban and civic nature: diversity is here celebrated both in the monumentality of its environmental scapes – natural, man-made, haphazard or ‘designed’ – as well as in the social and occupational multiplicity which characterized the unparalleled prosperity of the Chinese empire during medieval times.

This vision of sociability and accessibility is the timeless feature that from antiquity to contemporary times has never ceased to inspire the hopes and ambitions of great thinkers – it is the image of an “open city“.

Due to the specific form of consumption that characterizes hand-scroll painting (that is sequential reading), “Springtime Along River“ literally embodies a voyage in both time and space inside the day of a bustling urban centre. The temporal narrative begins at dawn in a tranquil rural scenario, and takes the observer through the city‘s suburbs among its markets and busy river banks, until revealing the frenzied life of the inner quarters of the walled city in the afternoon hours.

The main exhibition covering 1500sqm A Day in an Open City – A Journey Through Springtime Along the River and the accompanying library project with over 80 books and catalogues are curated by Beatrice Leanza, creative director of the Beijing-based B/Side Design and co-founder of The Global School.

The exhibition is composed of two main parts, the first dedicated to reveal the making of process of the 2d animation and an introduction to the painting’s background. The main body of the show instead is organized following the spatio-temporal narrative present in the scroll, letting visitors explore the phantasmagoria of its author’s imagination while delving into the historical and cultural facts that surrounded its creation.

Eight core scenes, sections of the scroll itself, function as key content frameworks each composed of newly produced exhibits, covering a breadth of research subjects contextualizing the political, economic, cultural and social history of Song times. Each subject takes inspiration from details that can be observed in the painting itself. These range from figures of historical importance including emperors, court painters and politicians, master builders and philosophers, to presentations diving into the design of the built environment, architecture, furniture, civil and naval engineering, the material culture of Song porcelain, fashion and the unique history of its commercial prosperity and global expansion.

A highlight of the show are the ten installations commissioned and newly produced especially for this exhibition by ten of the most talented designers working in China today. They are Atlas, BenWu Studio, FIELD, HVN Studio, LAVA Beijing, MAT Office, MAX Office, Pinwu Design Studio, Weestar Studio, Nod Young.

Product of months of research, each of these works focuses on a particular aspect of Song history and culture to offer audiences unique ways to experience more broadly the importance and relation of said subjects to contemporary urban life and visual culture.

The exhibition design is developed by reMIX Studio in a series of light weight structures where visual transparencies and materials juxtapositions highlight the three core spatial sections (Rural Scape – City Outskirts – Inner City) with the eight content chapters each bearing its own visual character, within a conceptual rendering of the overall exhibition as an entanglement of urban alleys.

The graphic design project is by Studio NA.EO of designer Liu Zhizhi, who has developed an iconized visual system referencing key details in the scroll with color coding determined by an analysis of those used in paintings and porcelain of Song times.


Organizers: The Palace Museum, Phoenix TV

Chief Charity Partner: Bank of China (Hong Kong)

Supported by: Home Affairs Bureau

Promotion Support: Hong Kong Tourism Board

Venue Support: Asia World Expo

Executive Organizer: Phoenix Digital Technology, The Forbidden City Publishing House

Co-organizer: Phoenix Exhibitions

Chief Curator: Beatrice Leanza – B/Side Design | www.bside.design

Space & Exhibition Design: Remix Studio | www.remixstudio.org

VI Design: Studio NA.EO | http://www.studionaeo.com

Special Installations:

Atlas, BenWu Studio, FIELD, HVN Studio, LAVA Beijing, MAX Office, MAT Office, Pinwu Design Studio, Weestar Studio, Nod Young

Tickets Info: www.cityline.com


For press materials and to receive further details on the exhibition please send an email to:

Sarah Orlando | B/Side Design

For regular updates follow www.bside.design/blog

Download Links:

Press Announcement Full Press Kit


Significant Others – Incomplete by Design | BIFT ’19

The program “Significant Others” is a one-year experiment developed at the School of Art & Design – BIFT (Beijing Institute for Fashion Technology) during the 2018/2019 academic year by The Global School. The final graduation show part of this one year research pilot opened on May 30, 2019.

The exhibition is divided in 6 main thematic areas which assemble 152 students’ projects around core explorative environments, wherein works are distributed not according to departmental classification but with relevance to affinities among the subjects and methodologies of research they employ.

Each area is subdivided in different sections that further unveil narrative webs relevant to the given topic, and thus disclose resonances among the various works and their connection to the exhibition overall theme.

Social Partners

As the theme of the 2019 Grad Show, Significant Others poses a quest to students to explore their life environment, their personal, familial and social contexts with the aim to find an inspirational cause to understand and empower. Students are prompted to delve into their own reality, the city, the universe that surrounds them and devise a project that brings positive impact to a community of their choice by supplying a function, service, activity of any nature – this could be based on an economic transaction, a volunteering job, an educational/commercial/academic/cultural offering provided it clearly targets an unattended common need, whose extent can vary from a small group of people to a neighborhood or an entire city district. With this in mind the project must reflect on this hypothetical perpetrator as a social partner, a significant other complement. 

The goal of the project is that of re-establishing a meaningful connection among people and groups, a simple premise that wishes to probe extant connections and systemic dependencies and reconfigure them into new value creation.

Curator:: Beatrice Leanza 

​Graphic Design:: Li Huang,  Day Yisha (BIFT)

Exhibition Design:: Zhao Liqun (FIELD) in collaboration with mono (Pablo Resa, Miguel Esteban Alonso)

All Images: mono, 2019.

Significant Others – Incomplete by Design investigates the shapeshifting nature of design as a feat of relentless mediation between the individual and the collective spheres.

Crafted at the intersection of multiple needs, interests and desires, incompleteness is here intended as a positive formula of open-endedness, co-action and a promise of mutual fulfilment. It looks at how the syntax and ambitions of design change when we embrace the idea that today’s minimum unit of social measure is no longer the averaged singularity of data-driven usership, but the vulnerable and dispositional plurality of a community.

Thematic Areas:

1. OUR FOOD – The Psychology and Systems of Everyday Consumption

2. A SENSE OF PLACE – From the ‘The Third City’’ to Novel Urban and Rural Paradigms

3. THE RESILIENT POWER OF LANGUAGE – Communication Across Cultural and Digital Divides

4. FUTURESCAPES: Social Narratives and Storytelling between Facts & Fiction

5. WE CARE: Health, Environment and the Making of Social Trust

6. THE ‘’PLACE’’ OF LEARNING – Redrawing Paths of Knowledge

Read more on The Global School website.



About the Exhibition Design: A Project for the Students Community 

Responding to the curatorial brief that organizes 152 students’ projects in 6 main thematic areas, the exhibition design developed by the architecture practice FIELD of Zhao Liqun in collaboration with mono office (Miguel Esteban Alonso and Pablo Alfonso Resa), is a flexible and modular system that accommodates ideas in an adaptive social space.

The modular surfaces, walls, tables, screens and cabinets, become environments for both display and social interaction, a re-configurable and reusable system that can be inhabited in various ways.

Each of the 6 thematic areas is given a specific spatial character – enclosed, open, linear, broken, according to the contents it features, thus guiding the viewing experience while leaving room for students and visitors to appropriate the interstitial areas at their will. The show is hosted in two large rooms, the spacious lobby of the main building in the BIFT campus and in an adjacent exhibition hall, each featuring three of the overall six chapters.

The structures have been designed so that the entire scenography can be later recycled for various uses in the campus, in classrooms, laboratories as well as in the outdoors.


About the Graphic Design: An Adaptive Visual System 

Developed by designer and BIFT professor Li Huang, the visual identity of the graduation show is a motion graphic system that responds to the curatorial brief by deploying an element of constant ‘transformation’ as conceptually connected to the theme of social exchange and interaction at the heart of the show curated by Beatrice Leanza, creative director of Beijing based The Global School.

This constant transformation is applied in an integrated system used in site of the exhibition, in the dedicated website and on digital social platforms. A color-coded system marks the 6 different thematic areas that compose the exhibition which includes the projects of 152 students.

The main motion graphics features a constantly scrambling sequence of the title of the show Significant Others – Incomplete by Design (merging both Chinese characters and English words) gradually also revealing each of the titles of the six themes.

These have been then specifically redesigned as individual graphic items for the signage and guiding system in site of the exhibition and for use on social platforms.