NEXT Design Perspectives 2021/22

The annual conference established by the Altagamma Foundation (Milan) in 2018, commissioning the curation of each edition to a leading figure in the academic sector to shed light on future scenarios in the wider field of design, culture and innovation impacting the creative industries. I have been invited to curate the 2021/2022 edition.

The first short capsule conference was held on October 29, 2021 – Fondazione Feltrinelli, Milano.

The full event was held on October 27, 2022 – Triennale di Milano.

Special partner: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UK.

Previous curators: Paola Antonelli – MoMA (2018), Deyan Sudjic – London Design Museum (2019).

Details on the speakers and topics + full videos of the events at


Visual Natures – the research and UX design

This post refers to the reserach project and exhibition “Visual Natures – The Politics and Culture of Environmentalism in the XX and XXI Centuries” of which you can learn more a this other link. Here I delve into the contents and their presentation, as well as the unique tool that was developed to both aid the reserach process and its fruition by users. 

Content organisation and thematic clusters

DEEP ECOLOGIES 1950s – 1980s [read the introduction here]

Earthworks: Expanded Fields

New Communalism

Technology and Environmental Consciousness

THE PLANETARY COMPLEX 1990s – 2000s [read the introduction here]

Ecovention: Environmental Reparations

Post-Human Politics and Aesthetics

The Anthropocene, Climate Justice and Political Ecology

MULTINATURALISM 2010s – present day [read the introduction here]

Augmented Nature and Terraforming

Speculative Ecologies and Post-Globalisation

Subjects of analysis and categories

Arts and Culture: Movements, People and Events / Works / Exhibitions / Critical Writing (books, catalogues)

Climate Science and Technology: People / Scientific Facts and Climate Events / Technological Inventions and Discoveries / Documentation (papers, books and publications)

Social Movements: Civic Demonstrations, Public Events, Non-Governmental Organisations

Global Governance: Governmental Organisations / Official Acts and Deliberations by Governmental Organisations / Documentation

Intersections among the selected contents are contextualised through the three thematic clusters and subclusters and move from the anthropocentric foundations of modern environmental thought, built on the exploitative legacy of western colonialism and the thought-regime of Cartesian man/nature dualism, towards the more-than-human ecologies informed by theoretical positions founded on non-binary cultural traditions of eco-centrism and multi-perspectivism of recent years.

The presentation allows to individuate historical and causal connections among facts, people and events concerning: the achievements of scientific progress in building climate knowledge and awareness of negative anthropogenic impact, as much as its opposing denialism by industrial interest groups; social and political mobilisations that support reparatory and equitable policies, as well as the recurring failures of intergovernmental cooperation; the artistic practices devoted to ecological interventionism and critical experimentalism around novel concepts of social mutuality, multi-species coexistence and biocentrism, as well as the enduring injustice and forms of industrial exploitation that still threaten the survival of indigenous and disenfranchised people, deplete natural resources and destroy biosystems. 

How to navigate the Visual Natures’ interface

The research is presented in a custom digital interface designed and developed by the studio dotdotdot. You can browse the multimedia contents – images, videos, texts and audios – following the three main thematic chapters chronologically distributed across the 42-seat assembly designed by Carla Juaçaba, each provided with a touchscreen.

Up and down: by scrolling vertically you can compare findings across the four subjects of analysis (i.e., Arts and Culture – Climate Science and Technology – Social Movements – Global Governance) and their sub-typologies (for example: notable figures, scientific findings and facts, cultural events, artworks, social movements, books, etc.).

Left and right: by swiping horizontally you move through time.


Visual Natures – The Politics & Culture of Environmentalism

Visual Natures: The Politics and Culture of Environmentalism in the 20th and 21st Centuries

maat – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon 

30/03 – 05/09 – 2022

This research project is product of critical investigations around climate science, creative practices and eco-politics developed at  maat museum over more than two years during my tenure as executive director, and therefore continues the journey started in 2021 with the data-driven installation Earth Bits – Sensing the Planetary and the public programme “Climate Emergency > Emergence”, curated by the first Climate Collective.

Visual Natures surveys political, social and cultural forms of collective agency that, over the course of the last one hundred years or so, demonstrate how the transforming human understanding of “nature” – philosophical, biological, economic – informs the ways in which we organise, sustain and govern our communities as an expanding planetary construct, both in concept and practice.

Loosely following a chronological order from the 1950s until today, the resulting mapping cross-references four subjects of analysis: artistic production and cultural events, technological innovations and scientific findings, social movements, and deliberations of global governance.

The presentation defies the challenge of its encyclopaedic character by way of a thematic organisation along three main concatenated clusters – “Deep Ecology (1950s – 1980s)”, “The Planetary Complex (1990s – 2000s)”, “Multinaturalism (2010s – present day)” – each converging around expanding meanings of “ecology” and environmentalism that from the 1960s onwards have grown central in international public and cultural debates as phenomena of global growth, natural resource scarcity and pollution became provenly intertwined.

Deliberately appropriating an expression by architect and artist Paulo Tavares (member of the maat Climate Collective 2021), “visual natures” points towards a post-anthropocentric, non-hegemonic politics and aesthetics of environmentalism to emerge as a democratic and egalitarian paradigm of coexistence within nature that transcends human-centred worldviews and refuses the ecological and social violence of extractivism.

Commissioned to the Brazilian architect Carla Juaçaba, the spatial design in which the research is presented takes inspiration from “The Conference of the Birds”, a Sufi parable written in the 12th century by the Persian poet Farid al-Din ‘Attar – a moral allegory of sovereignty and truth-seeking through shared sacrifice. According to her: “The exhibition design is a conference space in which we (humans) are birds discussing a new ordering between nature and man and between science and democracy, while redefining the idea of progress.”

The research is presented in a custom digital interface designed and developed by the studio dotdotdot. You can browse the multimedia contents – images, videos, texts and audios – following the three main thematic chapters chronologically distributed across the 42-seat assembly designed by Carla Juaçaba, each provided with a touchscreen. Read more about it here

Environmental discourse seizes the fate of economies and entire populations, and while we remain far from shared consensus on coordinated climate action, it increasingly motivates collaborative commitment from various scientific and technological fields, inspires educational curricula and youth demonstrations, and animates artistic debate and intellectual activism across a generational expanse and disciplinary fluidity of engrossing development.

Visual Natures aims to shed light on the facts and phenomena that lead us here. To disentangle the precursory designs of our present, to learn where we come from and where we can be headed.

The Climate Library

The exhibition includes a Climate Library, a reading area incorporated in the installation where a vast reference list of books and publications pertinent to the various subjects addressed in the research is made available as a digital catalogue and partially in physical form. See more of the digital interface here.

A selection from this database is also presented with in-depth descriptions in the digital interface, composing a vast reference list of books and publications ranging from scientific literature, sociological and anthropological studies, economics, geopolitical analysis, to cultural research, art criticism, philosophy and investigative journalism.


Art Director and Initiator: Beatrice Leanza

Research and curatorial team: Beatrice Leanza, Nuno Ferreira de Carvalho, Rita Marques, Camila Maissune, Maria Kruglyak, Amir Halabi, Bárbara Campos

Interaction design: dotdotdot (Alessandro Masserdotti, Laura Dellamotta, Fabrizio Pignoloni, Giovanna Gardi, Nicola Buccioli, Mariasilvia Poltronieri, Davide Bonafede, Simone Bacchini, Nicola Ariutti)

Installation design: Carla Juaçaba

Visual identity: Lisa H. Moura (maat)


2020/2021 The Book


[photos by Lisa Moura]

2020 / 2021 The Book is a publication that collects two years of programming and research developed at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technologymaat – Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology 2019 – 2021 (Lisbon) under the direction of Beatrice Leanza.

This deliberately untitled volume signified by the temporal bracket of 2020/2021, was editorially conceived as a series of individual items (called maat Papers) each originally produced to accompany exhibitions and projects in a set of ‘read/see’ in-prints. This volume incorporates them with extra contents in the form of textual and visual essays that together encapsulate the concrete possibility for a form of critical institutional practice to emerge as a response to the unprecedented complexities we face as a society of planetary expanse.

In keeping with the future-driven, collaborative spirit of its contents, the book is a collection of designs developed by the design team of the museum and different studios that came involved in the making of graphic projects and visual identities of various programs. Bundled in a custom binder to be filled with new in-prints over time, the book is also a physical moniker of the transformative and additive nature of its own content and the kind of institution it speaks of.

The book opens with a section dedicated to the 2020 program maat Mode – Prototyping the Future Museum which featured along five months more than 220 events organised in collaboration with over 80 individuals, collectives, entities and organisations near and far, and set in the museum-wide architecture intervention “Beeline” commissioned to the NY-based studio SO – IL.

The programs’ investigations looked at the increasingly troubled earth-bound life and unveiled forms of active engagement we could uphold to appease the mounting extremes and radicalism of phenomena that are product of our times, and how to model new avenues of experience and experimentation through creative knowledge and inspiration.

Relevant photos and texts are presented in four strands: “Of Lands, Seas and The Human Factor – Exploring ecosystems of life, preservation and multi-species coexistence”; “Community and History In Music and Sound – Voyages through alternative traditions, sonic mythologies and collective legacies”; “Freedom Practices – Visions of a world in various states of emergency”; “Digital Reels – The museum on a keyboard and other stories”.

Projects are grouped under two main sections – Collective Futures and Time & History – each collating voices and visions from curators, creative practitioners, scholars and activists that came involved in exhibitions, public and educational programs, onsite and hybrid projects many of which can be accessed on maat ext. (extended), the museum’s new digital space launched in 2020.

From journeys into the world of post-global geopolitics, a remastered understanding of humans’ relationship with the other-than-human world, marine ecosystems, epidemiological history and contemporary biopolitics, some of the projects took on the challenge of unmaking the long-standing paradigms through which we have known the world, to liberate new forms of imagination that are plural, emotive and more than haptic, designing new paths of planetary empathy.

Others fostered encounters around the historical legacies of imperialism, colonialism and unattended traumas either politically motivated or environmentally inflicted, so opening up the museum to critical enquiries around collective agency and emancipating forms of intellectual and social participation towards embodied justice.

The program framework maat Explorations encompasses an ongoing series of exhibitions, public and educational projects delving into the multi-faceted subject of environmental transformation from various scholarly and experimental vantage points, bringing forward sociocultural and technological investigations interwoven in speculative and critical practices in the arts and design at large. 

Part of this effort was the establishment of the Climate Collective which pays testament to a desire to deepen our understanding of climate justice as an intricate complex where geopolitical, legal, and sociological implications abating the life of people and ecosystems in the other-than-Western world are of critical importance for constructing equitable futures on a true global expanse. Conversations from the inaugural program Climate Emergency > Climate Emergence (2021/22) are presented in edited form. 

We have upheld a credo that institutions of culture are civic arenas that should perform as purpose-driven organisations, all throughout times when they were at their most vulnerable, but also when the importance to renew their relevance in contemporary societal discourse was at its most critical.

I am a believer in the role and responsibility of cultural institutions to empower inclusive forms of confrontation that can help us all discern, explore and engender equitable futures, planetary respect and mutual care. We have made “prototyping the museum” a motto supporting our every action, co-designed with professional and general publics, stakeholders of various background and provenance, entities of research, education and practicing activism, to ultimately conjure a future-driven museum that transforms as we transform with it.” (excerpt from the introduction written by Beatrice Leanza).


Editors: Beatrice Leanza, Nuno Ferreira de Carvalho
Book design: Lisa Hartje Moura
Featuring designs by: dotdotdot, Joana Pestana, Max Ryan, studio obelo, João Turvo, omni group, Beatriz Severes
Language: English (Portuguese language edition also available)
Published by: Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon – December, 2021

A limited number of copies is available for press reviews – please contact [email protected]
For more information [email protected] 



maat – Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology 2019 – 2022


Executive Director – maat museum from 2019 to 2021 (programme active through 2022).

Throughout my tenure at maat and confronted with the unfolding of a global pandemic, we have endeavoured to embrace its challenges with courage and optimism, dedicating our efforts to the establishment of a future-driven institution of purpose and open-ended, creative inspiration. 

You can read more of all we did at maat website (which was fully restyled and reprogrammed since March 2020) and maat ext. (i.e. maat extended) which was luanched in September 2020 as a new permanent digital space and an expanded realm of action for the institution. A novel editorial practice dubbed maat Papers was also established in the form of serialized inprints  accompanying a variety of exhibitons, reserach projects and public programs. 

A relevant book collecting these years of prjects, reaserach endevaours and creative feats was published in December 2021.

Here follows my preface:

“2020/21 – The Meaning and Making of Cultural Agency”

It might be premature to assess how and to what degree the memories of the past two years will affect our long-term future thinking; to be sure though the spatio-temporal hiatus of the pandemic has thrusted in the foreground how vigorously we ‘can’ act as a community to safeguard the values we share, and that hold us together. The question is whether we will keep our senses alert and our intentions forceful with equal confidence once the logistical technicalities of epidemiological control will be normalized in our everyday life. My answer to this interrogative is ‘yes, we can’, on the condition that spheres of public agency where “the articulation of debate, the sharing of positions and the articulation of knowledge” can be preserved. We have upheld this credo for institutions of culture to become civic arenas performing as purpose-driven organizations all throughout times when they were at their most vulnerable, but also when the importance to renew their relevance in contemporary societal discourse was at its most critical. I am a believer in the role and responsibility of cultural institutions to empower inclusive forms of confrontation that can help us all discern, explore and engender equitable futures, planetary respect and mutual care. We have made ‘prototyping the museum’ a motto supporting our every action, co-designed with professional and general publics, stakeholders of various background and provenance, entities of research, education and practicing activism, to ultimately conjure a future-driven museum that transforms as we transform with it.

We have endeavoured to make the present our home, as it is the most difficult to inhabit and yet the only temporal construct through which we can gauge both past and future, convinced that the new institutional paradigm is one where multiple temporalities, modes of creative engagement and encounter collide – where we practice coexistence not as an amalgam of individualities but an interwoven body of bonds and ideas as collective potential.

Lisbon, October 2021


Photo credits: maat and Central  – EDP Foundation Campus, photo by Fernando Guerra. 


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

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 |

Space & Exhibition Design: Remix Studio |

VI Design: Studio NA.EO |

Special Installations:

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

Tickets Info:


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

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.


Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Across Chinese Cities – The Community (The Objects Spaces and Rituals of the Collective)

Collateral Event of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Following its two previous instalments at the Biennale Architettura 2014 and 2016, the third chapter of the Across Chinese Cities program is a continued exploration of the rapport between the built environment and socio-economic processes of change in the contemporary Chinese context. Promoted by Beijing Design Week in partnership with Suzhou Municipal Government, Across Chinese Cities – The Community explores approaches to planning linked to the development of ‘communities’ as mechanisms that create new systems of social, economic and spatial belonging. The project offers an unprecedented look at over 20 case studies that draw upon the ‘’emancipating potentialities of commoning’’ (Stavros Stavrides, ‘’The City as Commons’’) through integrated design strategies which embody new notions of collective identity and thus novel interrelated norms of co-dependence, participation and inclusivity.  By tackling localized predicaments generated by uneven economic distribution, environmental scarcity and demographic fragmentation, they shed light on a transitional framework of development where new subjectivities are emerging and so producing co-actualized protocols of governance on the micro-scale.

Nested through tiered urban contexts, from historic districts, second tier cities to urban villages, and rural areas across different Chinese regions, these projects are predicated on the edification of enlightened methodologies of contemporary coexistence, where spatial transformation becomes auxiliary to the consolidation of new alliances among economic actors, governmental stakeholders and civic constituencies in medicating the disruptive effects of forty years of China’s unabated urbanizing race.

The exhibition is organized in six thematic frameworks – Working Paradigms / The Domestic Sphere / The Consumer Revolution / Culture, Learning & Care / Leisure & Playtime / Mobility – each providing a narrative entry point to socio-cultural constructs where collective life is customarily consumed and reproduced. 

Once again showcased in the unique framework of Ca Tron palace, the ground floor plays host to the ACC 2018 Guest City – Suzhou chapter and features studies on community development centred around the Pingjiang Road Preservation and Regeneration Plan; collectively these explore the city’s unique context of preserved traditions found in its historic urban fabric, crafts heritage and abundant natural resources, to enrich its ecological, economic and social condition.

On the first floor 15 selected projects are accommodated in an installation devised by DONTSTOP Architettura  of Michele Brunello, co-curator of the exhibition, together with Omri Revesz Studio – here thematic contents are laid in an archipelago of curvilinear shapes where an assemblage of visual and textual materials renders explicit the symbolic and physical systems of objects, spaces and rituals embedded in their making, thus unearthing connections among past and present regimes of sharing.  

‘’Each of these propositions behaves in responsive capacity towards a reconciliation between policy-relevant and community-native forms of ordering based on mutual fulfilment, cultural empowerment and thus ‘collective inventiveness’ ‘’ states Beatrice Leanza, curator of the show.

The exhibition includes historical itineraries drawing connections between the present case studies and past governmentalities of architectural and social formations – the People’s Commune, the Danwei (working unit) and the Socialist Mansion, so to suggest understandings of publicness, resilience and civic participation that might differ from their Western equivalents. The project eventually aims at collating knowledge around economic and socio-spatial dynamics of modern development in China centred around enabling the ‘making of community’ as a ‘’project, rather than an accomplished state’’, which therefore inform novel discursive and planning practices of responsive governance and creative management for the contemporary city.


3andwich Design / He Wei Studio, 9town-studio, AA School of Architecture/AA Visiting School (China), Atlas Studio, Bishan Crafts Cooperative, B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio, CHIASMUS Partners, Common Design Studio, DATAOJO, Digua Community, Doffice, Elsewhere, Kwan-Yen Project / Ou Ning, MAT Office, META-Project, MDDM Studio, People’s Architecture Office, Southeast University School of Architecture, Stefano Boeri Architetti, Tianqiao E-life.


Beatrice Leanza – The Global School

Michele Brunello – DONTSTOP Architettura

Curator Guest City – Suzhou: Wu Wenyi – Nexus Institute for Community Research

Guest Curators –  Slow Village:  Chen Anhua, Ke Wei

Exhibition Design

DONTSTOP Architettura (Michele Brunello and Marco Brega) / Team: Caterina Fumagalli, Jacopo Nori

Omri Revesz Studio / Team: Giada Cossignani

HIS Design (Guest City Suzhou)

Visual and Graphic Design

LAVA Beijing

Across Chinese Cities Program Management

Initiator: Vittorio Sun Qun


Baitasi Remade 2016/2015

(all photos in gallery by Nicola Longobardi for Baitasi Remade project)

First launched with the 2015 edition of Beijing Design Week in the context of Baitasi historic hutong district, Baitasi Remade is a program of urban renewal tasked to integrate communal engagement, architectural and infrastructural upgrading by way of soft-strategies of development taking design thinking, cultural making and educational empowerment at their heart.
The Baitasi Remade project aims at emplacing unprecedented modes of collectively rethinking the sustainability of life in the city as products of networked systems for knowledge making-and-sharing inspired by the human-scaled dimension of traditional settlements like Beijing’s hutong areas, to eventually shape new urban communities.

The 2016&2015 BTS Remade project were under the creative direction of Beatrice Leanza, who positioned the area as a living incubator for a networked community of design professionals and entrepreneurs to take home in the area and partake to the rejuvenation of its cultural and social ecosystem.  The program presented at BJDW offered insight into potential post-event activities fostering dialogue between perspective and existing communities, as a prelude to a generative process of interactions among various professional stakeholders – from economic and institutional actors to creative players in the fields of design at large – and local residents. Under the thematic agenda of Urban Learning & The Future of Sharing, the program dives into an articulated strand of site-oriented initiatives that labour around ‘the future of design education and sharing culture’ intended as key fora for the discursive and pragmatic exploration of methodologies of redevelopment specific to the Baitasi area that could be further employed as blueprints for similarly challenged social and built environments in and out of China.

Urban Learning – For a new distributed sense of place and global belonging

By taking Baitasi’ unique urban and social formation as its prime area of investigation, BTS Remade looks at creating strategies of productive re-positioning for similarly shaped living environs within the larger ecosystem of the city and its global expanse. Transformations in the structural and demographic outlook of large metropolises like Beijing, present challenges as much as opportunities for such historically stratified neighbourhoods and their constitutive values of communal reciprocity and social co-dependency to accommodate a distributed sense of place and belonging as fostered across the evermore dematerializing spatial confines we inhabit and traverse in our daily endeavours. How can past and present forms of spatial thinking and social making together inform novel living standards and knowledge systems for contemporary urban residents? Is there a place for thereof ensuing modalities of life to partake in the larger urban economy of global expanse? How can we mend the disruptions of urban conglomerations by way of rewiring connections among the desires, needs and expectations of fragmented social groups and interests?

The Future of Sharing – The Future of Urban Making

The Baitasi Remade project takes an investigative approach of participatory observation into the constitutive nature of today’s processes of transformation that motivate individuals’, institutions’, corporate and governmental co-participation in the grand narrative of urban-making. It does so by addressing potential outcomes for today’s network-based, digitally-shaped economies of sharing to escalate collaboration and engagement to extant urban problems and their otherwise atomizing social effects. The project strives to configure new process of dialogue among clusters of knowledge and expertise – urban, social, anthropological, scientific, economic, etc. – to generate new ideas for start-ups, social entrepreneurship and creative initiatives to be integrated in the area.


The 2016 BTS Remade curatorial framework encapsulated under the agenda of ‘Urban Learning & The Future of Sharing’ is articulated around two core knowledge-making hubs connected to a set of initiatives and participatory projects involving the local context&residents as a prelude to post-BJDW activities. These are to be found around selected spaces in the area and are organized with long-term partners and collaborators involved in post-event planning as ad hoc public programs and newly created projects rethinking how design can enter productive dialogue with the social and infrastructural givens of this historical urban enclave.

The program is thus divided in three core sections including: two knowledge-making hubs which are The Global School and the Baitasi Print Club, and a number of initiatives scattered around the area under the umbrella of Baitasi Projects.

See details on the dedicated website – we will update on the next steps soon.




Across Chinse Cities was an international program promoted by Beijing Design Week (BJDW) since its launch at the 2014 International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Developed as a series of exhibition, public programs and events, it aims at generating unprecedented content and research around the state of producing, thinking and being in the urban condition of today China, providing access to the practical and theoretical knowledge generated at the crossroads of its unabated challenges and ambitions.

The three exhibition projects produced (Across Chinese Cities – Beijing; Across Chinese Cities – China House Vision; Across Chinese – The Community: the Objects, Spaces and Rituals of the Collective) featured as official collateral events of the Venice Architecture Biennale between at the 2014, 2016 adn 2018 editions, while relevant activities like talks, symposia, publications and spin-off exhibitions have taken place in the context of Beijing Design Week and other cultural institutions and platforms internationally.

Two books were produced as part of this series, Across Chinese Cities – Beijing: the Reader and Across Chinese Cities – Ideas in Action was produced for the World Design Capital Taipei 2016, and consists in an unprecedented publication on critical design practice in China.

You can read more about Across Chinese Cities under dedicated entries in this website.

Editorial content and texts by Beatrice Leanza.

Chief Curators: Beatrice Leanza and Michele Brunello (DONTSTOP Architettura)

For full list of credits and supporting partners and institutions please check the individual entries.


Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

Ca’ Tron, Santa Croce 1957 – 30135 Venezia

May 26 – September 23, 2016

Open daily 8:30 – 19:45 // June: open every day // July- September: Closed Saturday and Sunday // Closed: August 1 – 22, 2016

For the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, we are presenting the second installment of Across Chinese Cities, an international program ‘promoted by Beijing Design Week (BJDW) since its launch at the 2014 International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia with Across Chinese Cities – Beijing.

The 2016 exhibition Across Chinese Cities – China House Vision, an official collateral event, curated by Beatrice Leanza (BJDW) and Michele Brunello (DONTSTOP Architettura), stems from the House Vision project, a Pan-Asian platform of multidisciplinary research and development started by designer Kenya Hara and Sadao Tsuchiya for Japan in 2013. House Vision is an exploration in ‘applied futurity’ in the realm of domestic habitation exercised by match-made teams of architecture practices and industry-leading companies from various sectors for the actualization of visionary conceptions of ‘home’ responding to extant urban challenges, lifestyle transformations and human needs.

Across Chinese Cities – House Vision features for the first time the body of research so far produced with a team of China-based architects and experts from various innovation-driven industries. It addresses the wider cultural and historic implications affecting the role and habitat of architecture practice in today China as increasingly impacted by environmental factors, shape-shifting demographics and generational segmentation.

The show renders manifest the contextual phenomena – economic, urban, social – that inform the research trajectories, motives and conditions behind 12 architectural proposals by reflecting on the implications of rethinking ‘habitation’ beyond the strict confines of the ‘private’.

Participating architects (in alphabetical order): Approach Architecture Studio, Atelier Deshaus, Atelier FCJZ, Atelier Fronti, AZL Architects, Beijing Centre for the Arts (In collaboration with Kengo Kuma, Winy Maas and Au Yeung Ying Chai), B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio, Crossboundaries Architects, MAD Architects, NEXT Architects, Trace Architecture Office, URBANUS, ZAO/standardarchitecture.

Promoter: Beijing Design Week

Organizer: China RedStar Design Award, CHINA HOUSE VISION Committee

Curators: Beatrice Leanza, Creative Director Beijing Design Week & Michele Brunello, architect DONTSTOP Architettura

Across Chinese Cities 2016 Guest City – Chengdu // Guest City Curator: Weng Ling

Exhibition DesignDONTSTOP Architettura (Michele Brunello & Marco Brega) & Omri Ravesz Studio (Team: Giorgio Donà, Caterina Fumagalli)

Visual and Graphic DesignSANS Practice

Exhibition Sponsors: Lenovo Group, SunShine 100, I-Space, CITIC BookStores

Institutional Support: Unesco ICCSD, Sino-Eu Innovation Center, Beijing Centre for the Arts

Technical Provider (Furniture): QM Furniture

More info soon here and at the ‘under construction’ as of mid May!

See you in Venice soon.


Shanghai Art&Design Biennale 2016


January 10 – March 15, 2016

West Bund Art Centre, Shanghai 

Curator: Beatrice Leanza

Exhibition Design: reMIX Studio

Participants: 2×4 / Alexander Åhnebrink / Alvaro Catalan de Ozon / Anaide Gregory Studio / Atlas Studio / 白塔寺再生计划Baitasi Remade Project / 中央美术学院 -工业设计系Central Academy of Fine Arts – Industrial Design Department / 曹璞Cao Pu / 大木设计事务所DAMU Design / Studio Eva de Laat / From余杭融设计图书馆 & Pinwu 设计工作室From Yuhang – Rong Design Library & Pinwu /郝振瀚Hao Zhenhan / 黄明健Huang Mingjian / Instant Hutong-Studio Ramoprimo / LAVA Design Agency / 樂建筑 Le Architecture / LCD – Laboratory for Creative Design) / OPENDOT / 众建筑People’s Architecture Office / 临界工作室reMIX Studio / Studio S.W.I.N.E. & Andrew Friend / 清华大学 – 工业设计系Tsinghua University – Industrial Design Department / YEAH! Archkids

IDEAS in ACTION is one of four core thematic exhibitions constitutive of the 2016 Shanghai Art&Design biennale, hosted in the 8000 sqm space of the West Bund Art Centre (a reclaimed hangar once used as an airplane repair shop).

Ideas in Action brings together multidisciplinary projects linking conceptual and practical strategies of design enactment that mobilize extant relations of production, inheritance and place into new conformations. The exhibition aims at offering a critical look at forms of integrated thinking found, inspired by or echoing across contemporary scenarios of change in China that span from object-to-city making by way of rerouting connections across the social, cultural and spatial givens of uneven or unattended frameworks of development. While their specificity of investigation is expansive in covering from urban and rural renewal to augmented methodologies of making, engaging craft-thinking and-digital knowledge or grassroots intelligence, a common denominator of positive value-making, co-actualization and a light-weight awareness of ethical like-mindedness, drives their action. The implicit premise to this assembly of positions is the recognition that design performs today as a ‘meta-project’ across disciplinary and systemic structures of both intangible and material nature, which must labour at the interplay of processes grounded in practical know-hows as much as empower culturally dispositional faculties of locational character. What draws shared significance to these projects is their dynamic positioning within generative networks of co-doing and combining of knowledge, their detouring within the remedial scale of actions that can rekindle broken or obsolete relations of production, inheritance and place into novel processes of mutuality and co-dependency. These practices advocate for design actions that are generated by a situationally shaped resourcefulness of humanistic and social engagement, while remaining committed to exploring the ideas and the technical boundaries that move the discipline towards new horizons.

The featured projects have been selected according to four analytical categories that portray distinct yet interwoven scales of operation. The categories are: Infrastructural Matrix, Growth Protocols, Infill, and Materiality & Objecthood. Although categorized according to these four subchapters, the selected projects are not so presented in site of the show, as the spatial narrative instead highlights their interconnections, as if extensions of a growing organism, laid along a ‘dynamic masterplan’ realized by Beijing-based reMIX Studio.


The works here featured here unpack the workings of systems of development traversing various spatial and material registers – from urban and domestic, to places and forms of production (from studio to factory; from digital prototyping to artisanal remake), and the communities that inhabit them, thus eliciting how designers are finding new ways of constitutive interaction against shrinking economies, socially divided contexts and degrading or disappearing cultural heritages.

These include: urban spaces, domestic spaces, spaces of production (from studio to factory), social spaces and communities, systems of production (from digital prototyping to artisanal remake).


As a dive into the first chapter, this section looks at specific projects that infiltrate orders of production (urban, industrial, social, architectural, etc.) by giving shape to novel solutions or simply poetic expressions emerging from within. These projects unveil what is unattended, invisible or underutilized by way of creative gestures turning those into new productive potential. Borrowed from architectural parlance, a strategic ‘infill’ is side-track thinking, it is a compounded approach that generates scalability out of extreme specificity.

These include: architectural projects, visual and graphic design, social design, industrial design.


This features programs that operate more specifically across the post-demographic scape of increasingly segmented user-and-consumer groups, devising new tools and systems to bring positive change to critical contexts, endangered or discarded constituencies.

These include: social design, digital and interaction design, product design.


The designers and creators selected for this section are more prominently working across material divides at the crossroads of new systems of ‘making’, rethinking traditional and artisanal forms and methodologies with the aid of contemporary technologies and skilling emerging as a result of changing systems of fabrication, distribution and ever more flexible and customizable possibilities of creation. Changing notion of aesthetic and material orders surface as a result.


Launched with a pilot effort in 2009, Beijing Design Week (BJDW) is co-hosted by the Beijing Municipal Government, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, to nurture a culture of design in the Chinese context. With seven key sections – Design Service, Design Award, Design Night, Design Trade, Guest City, Smart City,  and Design HOP – BJDW features hundreds of international exhibitions, public events and trading platforms as the leading design event in the PRC. While offering an expansive overview of China’s transforming design landscape, it serves as a laboratory for innovative perspectives that, from industry to academia, inspire and shape contemporary design discourse and practice.
Beatrice Leanza has acted as creative director of the event from the 2013 edition until 2016. 

”In its youthful four years it has grown into a city-wide showcase of hundreds of events covering 7 urban districts, totalling 362 projects with designers and organizations from over 30 countries in 2014. Taking up the creative direction of the event from 2012 offered both the thrill and challenge of shaping a positioning of relevance across the local and international design landscape. BJDW has ever since operated by establishing long-term cooperative frameworks with various stakeholders in the city’s development from governmental planners and educational institutions to companies and individual makers, offering a dialogical and physical arena for design solutions to be tested. A noted example, started in 2013, is the Pilot Program developed in collaboration with the historic district of Dashilar, which has contributed heavily in raising public and officials’ awareness to the contentious issues of urban renewal and preservation.

BJDW’s innervation in the built and social fabric of the city embodies an active engagement in nurturing while questioning the role and impact of design for the 21st century global city. Every year this contextual dialogue is rendered via thematic-driven explorations and calls for projects devised to test the boundaries of design knowledge within selected zones of the capital. This unique outlook has rendered BJDW a reference platform, investigating the widening economic and cultural implications of what ‘designing for China’ means today and tomorrow.”
Various features have appeared on international media outlets over the past two years, including The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Figaro, Liberation/NEXT, Dezeen, Wallpaper, Core77, Metropolis, IDEAT, Surface Asia, T Magazine, Domus, Abitare, Disegno, The Good Life, Elle Décor Italy, among many others.

Making Futures BJ – Craft and Design


Contemporary Shifts Across Craft and Design

A Pop-UP Forum in Dashilar

September 27 – 28, 2014; 2 – 8 pm

Location: the MFBJ forum was hosted in an installation dubbed the Fly Tower (or Trapped Tower) designed by Benjamin Beller of BaO Architects, Beijing

Curated bv: Malcolm Ferris, founder and curator Making Futures UK (Playmouth College of Art) and Beatrice Leanza (BJDW)

Organizers: Beijing Design Week, Dashilar Platform and Plymouth College of Art, UK

Program Partner: Stellar Works
Supported by: The Danish Agency for Culture, Coletivo Amor de Madre
The digital craft elements in Making Futures Beijing are aligned with ‘Made@EU’, a two-year collaborative project between Plymouth College of Art (UK); the Institut d’ Architectura Avancada de Catalunya(Spain); and the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (France), and supported by the European Union Creative Europe programme

Making Futures: Beijing is conceived as a response to the Dashilar Craft and Design Pilot– the urban plan to promote one of Beijing’s oldest hutong districts as a creative craft and design zone. Complementing a series of collaborations between local craftsmen and contemporary designers established by Beijing Design Week, the project aims to bring Chinese and global perspectives into dialogue concerning the ideas and aspirations that underpin the overall Making Futures series. As such, Making Futures: Beijing will bring into focus research pertinent to the Chinese context and platform it as a contribution to international debate. Each day consists of two thematic ‘sessions’ (four across the two days) each of which is structured around a particular theme:

The Return of Craft?

Will extrapolate from current developments to explore whether we are (or in the near future will) experience a reappearance of small-scale production and consumption based on craft enterprises, design-to-make, and micro-manufacture.

Malcolm Ferris/ Think through Making                
Chiwing Lo/design director, Kanjian Creations: The Wisdom of Traditional Chinese Crafts      
Catherine McMahon (Atlas Studio) /researcher and DSL Craft Pilots series participant: Lightworks              
Jacob Dreyer/researcher, writer: 100 Year Brands               
[Stellar Works/MF BJ program partner]: The Possibility of Evolving 

Material Worlds

Will explore how craftspeople and designer-makers are proactively exploring socially and sustainably engaged projects through re-cycling, renovation and refurbishing and, increasingly, through closed-loop approaches associated with cradle-to-cradle design and make strategies.

Paul Mickelthwaite /course director, MA Sustainable Design –  Kingston University: Make Unmake Remake  – Sustainability and Design          
Pil Bredahl/curator the Danish Craft Collection: Sustainability and the Danish Crafts Collection (CC18)  
Instant Hutong (Stefano Avesani/Marcella Campa) /architecture and design studio (Beijing): RE-USE, Participatory Urbanism         
Danful Yang/designer (Shanghai)  : Exploring Chinese Traditions      
Mauricio Arruda/architect and designer (Sao Paolo): Architecture and Design for Sustainability 

Making Place

Will explore whether and how contemporary approaches to craft and small-scale making can avoid ‘Disneyfication’ and make positive and authentic contributions to community identity, heritage and ‘place-making’.

Andrew Brewerton/Principal, Plymouth College of Art: Plymouth School of Creative Arts – A Case Study in Urban Regeneration        
Zhang Lei (Pinwu studio)  /designer (Hangzhou) and DSL Pilots series participant: Handmade in Hangzhou           
Shikai Tseng (Poetic Lab) /designer (Taiwan): About Ripple and Bronze China Projects            
Kim Charnley /researcher, writer: Urban Space as Vernacular process

Craft 2.0.

Will consider advanced technological models of production, including digital print technologies, from craft and designer-maker perspectives, exploring their current and future potential to support artisanal micro fabrication and designer-makers.

Peter Oakley/Research Leader, Royal College of Art UK: The Future of the Digital and the Hand-made    
Elaine YanLing NG/designer (HK) and and DSL Craft Pilots series participant: CLIMATOLOGY and NATUROLOGY   
Zhang Zhoujie/designer (Shanghai): Digital Lab      
Guto Requena/designer (Sao Paolo): The LOVE PROJECT EXPERIENCE          
Justin Wang/founder Makers Carnival (China) and CEO Makers Space, Beijing:The China Makers Movement           
Areti Markopoulou /architect and professor at IaaC – Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalunia (Barcelona): Personal Manufacturing – Perspectives from the Institute of Advance Architecture of Catalonia

 Making Futures: Beijing represents one of the first attempts to gather China-based perceptions regarding the current and future performance of contemporary craft and designer-maker practices and to place these in dialogue with trans-national debate around these issues. It is intended that that the dialogue started in Dashilar will continue into the future, not least by a strong research strand dedicated to Chinese perspectives in the 2015 UK edition of Making Futures.

Making Futures is a Plymouth College of Art (PCA) research platform developed and curated by Malcolm Ferris. The platform consists of a bi-annual international research conference; a series of satellite exhibitions; an on-line journal that reports the proceedings as an Open Access archive, (ISSN 2042-1664); and a range of related staff and post-graduate student projects. The conference series has evolved across its three editions to date (2009, 2011 and 2013), into the foremost international event in its field, with a good reputation across global art, craft and designer-maker communities.


Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

Across Chinese Cities – Beijing

An Official Collateral Event of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
Tesa 100, Arsenale Novissimo
June 4 – November 27, 2014


Beijing Design Week with the collaboration of Dontstop Architettura presented Across Chinese Cities – Beijingan investigation into the Chinese capital’s spatial transformations and its historical district Dashilar, as a Collateral Event of the 14th  International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition expounds upon the complex architectural and social transformation of the city, looking at contemporary challenges between globalisation and localism, the processes of continuous adaptation and resilience found therein which remain paradigmatic for many contemporary cities like Beijing.

“Across Chinese Cities – Beijing” responds to the thesis set forth by Rem Koolhaas with “Absorbing Modernity” by looking at Beijing’s mutations in relation to Dashilar’s in two juxtaposed sections: “Across City Sections” and “Across Dashilar”.  Dashilar, a city within the city, an historical and peculiar area situated southwest of Tian’anmen Square, becomes a prism to observe the whole city and the contemporary urban condition. Dashilar’s interwoven fabric of traditional courtyards and alleys (hutongs), the vibrant and dense urban and social ecosystem of crafts, specialized knowledge, infrastructures and historic buildings are taken here as experimental platforms for innovative pilot projects. Characterised by capillarity and porosity, its built forms and social condition offer themselves to a productive retooling and questioning of existing spatial devices: an engine for urban regeneration and reinvention.

“Across City Sections” consists of an installation composed by a map of the city and by a linear timeline of five city sections. Each scaled 1:500 along Beijing’s North-South axis they are temporally posited along five crucial moments: 1488: Foundation of Dashilar, 1914: Construction of experimental Xiang Chang District,1958: Inauguration of Tian’anmen Square,1992: Opening of Henderson Centre, first Shopping Mall, 2014: Beijing today, the global city. From within these spatial and temporal sections, the invariant core of the Forbidden City and the grand transformations of the urban fabric are set in contrast with the small-scale changes in Dashilar, attesting to its adaptive capacity across different historical thresholds.

Juxtaposed to the linear enunciation of “Across City Sections”, “Across Dashilar” draws a circular and explorative path across the socio-cultural dynamics, the economic and political factors which, since its foundation, have shaped Dashilar as a space of productive marginality. Originally founded outside the imperial city’s walls as an ‘outer city’ or external settlement, Dashilar evolved into a spatial dimension of autonomous alterity, where social and behavioural hierarchies were subverted. The historical mesh enveloping Dashilar unfolds into four historical moments (the Mongol Dynasty in the XV century, the Ming and Qing period, the end of the empire and the first Republican period, the foundation of the People’s Republic in 1949 until the economic reforms of the 1990s, the pre Olympic period and the XXI century), while being interpolated with various interdisciplinary projects realised in the last two years by a wide range of studios and creatives as a result of the cooperation established between Beijing Design Week and Dashilar Cutural Investment co Ltd. Part of a regeneration scheme aimed at mending the urban and social fabric of Dashilar by means of a nodal system founded on principles of social design, the selected projects are responsive to Dashilar’s endangered architectural infrastructural and communal ecosystem, so here becoming points of departure for historical and thematic explorations. In this section, architectural archetypes and construction types are presented and complemented by an anthropological journey into the literary and cultural history that made Dashilar the creative and commercial heart of the capital since the Ming Dynasty. Six pilot projects are contextualised within historical scenarios, refraining the effects of key historical and political transitions. The pilots are accompanied by a selection of works on various media ranging from photography, sound art, video, animation and interactive applications to co-design and collaborative projects with local residents and craftsmen.

A dedicated area hosts a  film program ‘Beijing on FIlms – 1980s – 2000s) curated by Meng Xie (director of Public Programs UCCA, Beijing) so further expanding the investigation into related issues and selected topics.

A special Reader is presented as complementary to the exhibition, inclusive of a rich textual selection from original sources excerpted from existing historical and critical literature, fiction, journalism, blogs and articles, and it is edited by Beijing Design Week in collaboration with experts in related fields and the participants to the exhibition. A series of programs and workshops will also be organised in the opening weeks of the biennial.

The exhibition problematizes the assumption of a centripetal modernity which is here supplemented by a vision in which the interactions between an architecture of resilience and relationship are essential and pivotal in the evolution of a polycentric, porous and informal city.



Beijing Design Week


Michele Brunello (DONTSTOP architecture) and Beatrice Leanza (Beijing Design Week)

Special Installation:

Ma Yansong

In collaboration with:

Dashilar Platform, SANS Practice (Neill Mclean Gaddes, Yijing Xu)


For “Across City Sections”:

Dontstop architettura

For “Across Dashilar”:

Abitare China magazine, Approach Architecture, CAFA – Central Academy of Fine Arts, Matali Crasset, CYJO, Instant Hutong, Kenya Hara studio, LAVA design agency, Lumalu, Meta Hutongs, People Architecture Foundation, People’s Architecture Office, reMIX Architecture, SANS practice, Varvara Shavrova, Standardarchitecture, Studio Ramoprimo + MDDM Studio, The DaZhaLan Project (Cao Fei and Ou Ning), Jia Yong, MAD Architects, Michael Young, Hua Xinmin, Cui Yong


Making Community ¬ Design/BJ


Beijing ‘Design-in-Progress’

Curated by Beatrice Leanza
Centre for Contempoary Chinese Art – Manchester
April 3 – June 3, 2014

Making Community showcases a selection of ongoing initiatives rendering a generative grammar of creative engagement with the spatial and social context of the Chinese capital.

This relational archipelago of interdisciplinary design practices is both premise and product of an evolving cultural predicament formulated by the mutually defining changes along the design-and-community nexus in the contemporary urban realm. Radically collaborative and open-ended, they are inherently shaped as metaphorical constructs of ‘speech and duration’ that reflect on the urgency for localized forms of intellectual and practical connectivity to amplify and enable solutions in the contested spaces of the city, for and with its constituencies. The exhibition is therefore not conceived as a static display of finished products, but as an ‘architecture of relationships’ informed by urban research and social agency engaged in the rethinking of existing topographies of knowledge production, and the creation of instruments for its dissemination.

A selection presented for the first time in an international context and originally featured during Beijing Design Week 2013, Making Community offers itself as a dynamic archive and a participatory device to open a conversational space around: design and cultural heritage, architectural preservation and urban revitalization, sustainability, up-cycling and environmental consumption, digital and artisanal fabrication, interactive and social design.The creative outputs range in open-source research platforms for urban innovation, digital and print publications, books, experiential apps, identity and branding, product co-design, documentaries and experimental videos, among others.  Taken here as a case-study, BJDW plays out as a resounding system of creative communities, where territoriality and collectivity are continuous with its molecular formation as co-creation. It aims at forging a force field that can augment and expand professional perspectives into institutional agendas and public debate, to devise the tools and the awareness for ‘process’ to truly be emplaced as productive exchange on the micro-scale. As one of the core projects developing within BJDW urban ecology, the Dashilar Pilot project is here employed as a narrative dispositive of concrete solutions implemented through transcultural and cross-disciplinary interactions. Launched with the BJDW 2013 edition in close cooperation with the Dashilar Culture Investment, a governmental developer, it is an international call for ideas responsive to Dashilar historical area of densely populated alleys (hutongs), its aging infrastructure and endangered architectural and social landscape. An abridged presentation of resulting proposals serves here to contextualize the complexity of ‘transformation’ – a form of collective thinking involving the making of professional and social communities wired to institutional networking – as opposed to the complacency in political agendas of ‘change’. Textual and visual narratives caption each project with information about their initiators and contributors; relevant links to online platforms are provided for audiences to start forming an understanding of a Beijing-bound design landscape and part-take in an ever growing laboratory for innovation and self-engagement.

The exhibition set up and visual design are the work of SANS, a Beijing-based studio made of Neill Gaddes and Yijing Xu, who’s been involved in the development of the Dashilar Project since its inception, and contributed heavily in making the Dashilar Pilot series possible.

Participants and Projects:

Participants names refer to those of initiators, many of these projects are the result of multiple contributions which are credited in the documentation provided on site of the show.

A.M.I. (Appropriate, Mutate, Innovate), Audio Archecology & Concrete Flux (Tom Baxter and Solveig Suess), CYJO, Dashilar Pilot series: [Hutong Toilets (Michael Young), Pop-Up Canopy (Peoples Architecture Office), 2 Yangmeizhu (reMIX studio), Fringe Density (Urbanus), Rabbit Grandpa Zhan (metaLINGO), Modul’Hutong (Matali Crasset), Micro-Hutong (standardarchitecture studio), The Museum of Bicycle Parts (CAFA Visual Communication dpt), Scagnel (Luca Nichetto)], Design For the Real China, Hutopolis (Gianantonio Bongiorno, Eugenia Murialdo, Luis Aguirre Manso), Interactive Beijing (Fei Jun and Lulu Li), LAVA Design Studio, Meta-Hutong (Andy Bryant and Wang Shuo), MovingCities (Bert de Muynck and Mónica Carriço), SANS (Neill Gaddes and Yijing Xu), The Other Place, Wai Architecture Think Tank (Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia), Sander Wassink.

A selection of publication and books presented within the show will be also available at the CFCCA store: Concrete Flux magazine, LAVA Mobile Design Agency Newspaper, Hutopolis book, Abitare China HUTONG, special summer issue 2013, Pure Hardcore Icons publication.

The Human Factor

May 24 – June 3, 2012
Museo Pietro Canonica in Villa Borghese | Rome, Italy

Organized by: qwatz – artist in residence program, Rome
Artists: Liang SHUO, Charles LIM, Koki TANAKA, Hong-kai WANG
Curator: Beatrice Leanza


The Human Factor is a research project featuring artists Liang Shuo (China), Charles Lim (Singapore), Koki Tanaka (Japan) and Wang Hong-kai (Taiwan) organized by qwatz artist in residence program – Rome, and curated by Beatrice Leanza. The artists’ two months residency (April-May 2012) informed an exhibition of both newly created and selected works as well as a unique book of commissioned essays and interviews published by cura.books in November 2012 [The Human Factor – Rethinking Relationality (or the artist as bricoleur)].

A meaningful cross-section of contemporary Asian art, the practices here presented subtend to strategies of perception and cognition of reality where oppositional paradigms between otherness and individuality, nature and culture, man and world are abandoned to make space for an architecture of knowledge intrinsically ‘transformational’, ‘ situationally interconnected’ and ‘relational’. Drawing upon an acentric universe of experiential nature mobilized by a phenomenology of “becoming” that offers itself supplementary to a more inherently western-made anthropology of “being”, they collectively conjure the hypothesis of a space of action and contemplation of the world deliberately removed from the political terminologies of a ‘dichotomous’ predicament, to propose instead a culturally asymmetrical thought of social and philosophical inclusiveness – an identification with change and situated relations.

Featuring installations inclusive of photography, sculpture, video, sound and performance, the exhibition infiltrated the private rooms and studio spaces part of Museo Pietro Canonica in Villa Borghese by way of subtle strategies of juxtaposition and substitution, played out throughout the interlocking rooms with the rich collection of paraphernalia, furnishings and art objects found wherein. Spotted by means of a color-coded parkour the works were carefully interspersed inside Canonica’s domestic landscape of personal grandeur and monumental formality so creating a diachronic configuration of affinities among diverse life paths and experiences, the artists’ and Pietro Canonica’s (1869 – 1959). Canonica was an Italian academic and mannerist artist from the first half of the 20th century, whose diplomatic savoir-faire earned him the favors of ruling classes and conservative elites of foreign governments (from Russia to Thailand) where he often travelled as a political and cultural mediator – a proponent of classicism and high-culture that distanced himself from the conceptual and formal upheaval brought about by the historical avant-gardes. The works in “The Human Factor” operated with knowing irony aside the dignified art that surrounded them, bringing it back to a transformed social context in the present times.

Like the complementary publication, the show highlights the four distinctive practices as focused critical explorations into the human mechanics of the architecture of knowledge (a ‘rethinking of relationality’) across four central modes of envisioning and creating the perimeters of its structure: that is, in the sonic space of speaking and listening (Musical Memory/Wang Hong-kai), in the sensorial and affective relationship with things and people (Situational Objects/Koki Tanaka), in the social and aesthetic process of inhabiting (Beautiful Evidence/Liang Shuo), in the construction of narrative dispositives mapping real and imaginary territories (Neutral Spaces/Charles Lim).

The project THE HUMAN FACTOR is made possible by the generous contribution of various supporters and sponsors:

Ines Musumeci Greco; Agi Verona; Japan Foundation; Cultural Affair Department, New Taipei City Government; FARE in collaboration with Open Care and with the support of Fondazione Cariplo, NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, GAI – Associazione Circuito Giovani Artisti Italiani; O’A.I.R.; ArchiviAzioni;  ROMA CAPITALE, Museo Pietro Canonica in Villa Borghese – musei in Comune, in collaboration with Acea, BNL, Unicredit, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Acqua Claudia, Finmeccanica, Lotto, Vodafone, with the support of Atac, la Repubblica.

Concierge / BJDW ’11

Concierge @ The House of Leaves

September 24 – October 3, 2011
BJDW – Beijing International Design Week 2011
Design HOP | Dashilan’r, Beijing

For its participation to the first international Beijing Design Week, BAO Atelier stationed its project in the bustling neighborhood of Dashilan’r, the historical commercial district of old Beijing right by Tiananmen Square, and house to the most cutting-edge, experimental program of BJDW.

The project takes cue from Naihan LI’s latest series of design works titled “The Crates”. Inspired by the volatile and exuberant spirit of a contemporary urban habitat like Beijing’s and its epic detournement of building construction, decay and regeneration, LI’s mobile creations accommodate with poetic comfort the moody impracticality of globe-trotting, ready-to-move lifestyles. Sofas, beds, bookshelves, workstations, and foosball tables pop out of their own shipping shell to form a unique spatial language which is whole with a ‘total’ concept of dwelling. Wooden crates become carapaces to contain the body, objects and the memories we carry with them. Situational freeplay and sculptural abstraction blend here to make room for a design practice which is intrinsically relational and open-ended.
On this occasion a brand new all-in-one Media Box was presented, including its mini-cinema, DJ deck, lights, karaoke equipment, multimedia screens and seating area.

Concierge is a curatorial inspiration developing from this design ensamble: the installation built inside one of Dashilanr’s old factory complexes materialized an inexistent part of the actual building dubbed “The House of Leaves“, a semi-private/semi-public residence located on the edge of the Fifth Ring Road in Caochangdi village (also home to BAO Atelier offices). Drawn upon an intimate image of both action and reflection, this serendipitous space represents an antechamber of no definite time or spatial confines, a public retreat and an interior garden activated by a politics otherwise known as ‘meeting’. Daily talk-shops, happenings and presentations are accompanied by impromptu performances and informal gatherings, with cocktail making sessions and live music. Events included among others: a scribbling, scrawling and mixing afternoon with WEN Ling (aka Ziboy), graffiti artist HE Cong and Leo (86/33 link); workshops organized in collaboration with the British Council, such as “Domestic Super Objects”, an experiment with everyday domestic objects to reveal their creative potential by designer Nelly BEN HAYOUN, and “Nuclear Tea Party You” by designer Zoe PAPADOPOULOU.



The work of the Xijing Men collective

June 2 – September 25, 2011
Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation | Venice, IT
organized in collaboration with Arthub Asia

curator ::  Beatrice LEANZA
catalogue design ::  Hironori Oooka Office | Tokyo, JP

This is the first institutional exhibition dedicated to the work of the Xijing Men collective, the unique collaborative team composed by artists CHEN Shaoxiong (China), OZAWA Tsuyoshi (Japan) and GIMhongsok (South Korea). Hosted in the Foundation’s main site in Piazza San Marco, the show is a quixotic journey through the creative universe of Xijing—a life-world of encounters, places and compounded narratives awakened by the thereof named collective since 2007.

Xijing—the capital of the West—exists upon a fictive geopolitical axis created in correspondence to the real cities of 北京 Beijing (capital of the North), 南京 Nanjing (capital of the South) and 东京 Dongjing/Tokyo (capital of the East). Conceived since its inception as progressive exploration in five open-ended chapters, the Xijing project departs from the literary exercises of fictional geography and imaginative mapping, to voyage instead through the ‘enactment’ of a symbolic territory where the connections between spatiality and identity are continuous with its collective production. Developed over the course of the past five years in different geographical and institutional contexts (Asian, European, of museums, galleries, alternative art spaces, biennials etc.) the eventuation of Xijing is informed  by an artistic practice comprehensive of a variety of media and formats conceived to make the process of ‘situating’ Xijing a participatory and productively unstable experience. All of the chapters so far created (Do you know Xijing?, Welcome to Xijing, This is Xijing and I Love Xijing) are constituted via performative interventions into the phenomenal world of politics and institutions – of art, history and society. Flipping between dark humor and existential eccentricity, these abridged scripts are devised to render Xijing as the immanent other site/side of things human, be it of memory or mythology, literature or tradition, the foundation of urbanity, the conception of citizenship, the formation of power and authority.

The show is accompanied by a comprehensive publication designed by Tokyo-based Hironori Oooka Office; functioning as a complementary tool to navigate the Venice chapter it includes illustrations and descriptions of all the previous projects since 2007.

The Xijing Men collective is CHEN Shaoxiong, OZAWA Tsuyoshi and GIMhongsok. The group’s work has been featured, among others, at the First Aichi Triennial (2010), the 10th Lyon Biennale (2010), the 4th Fukuoka Asian Triennial (2009), Tate Liverpool (2009), Art Sonje Center (2008) and Platform Seoul (2008).

Xijing Letters

Museum on Paper: Xijing Letters
March 2011 issue of Art & Investment Magazine (CN)

curator ::  Beatrice LEANZA
artists ::  Xijing Men collective (CHEN Shaoxiong, OZAWA Tsuyoshi, GIMhongsok)

The Chinese contemporary art magazine Art & Investment hosts a special curatorial project dubbed “Museum on Paper” which, published 6 times per year, features an 18 pages, custom designed insert dedicated to the work of one artist or specific project.

Xijing Letters is an exploration of Xijing world by means of 27 keywords selected by the artists as related to their unique collaborative practice. Each of the keyword is illustrated by visual or written inserts as excerpted by videos, interviews, curatorial texts and the artists’ own drawings. The irregular size of the pages exposes the different background colors used for each of the keywords.

The idea came from research on an hypothetical book structure (Xijing Zaji: Miscellaneous Records of the Western Capital) conceived to resemble the anthological character of traditional historiographical literature: generally complied at different moments in dynastic times in the form of collected works. Inclusive of eminent biographies, geographical records and factual accounts, literary and artistic genres, myths and folklore) this type of encyclopedic formats are known to be of extravagant nature and of relative scientific value. Organized in alphabetical order and structured along a selection of key-words and epistemological categories embedded in the work of the collective, the book would aim at contaminating discourse and critique with its deviant humor and disarming digressions.

The Third Party

An Exhibition in Three Acts

The Third Party

November 11, 2010 – January 24, 2011
Platform China Contemporary Art Institute | Beijing, CN

curator ::  Beatrice LEANZA

And what would art have to do with this? What would it give to be seen? Cause to be seen? Let us see? Let us cause to be seen? Or let itself be shown?

Jacques DERRIDA, The Truth in Painting

The Third Party is an exhibition conceived to unfold in three consecutive sessions in Platform China project space. Each approximately lasting twenty days, the three moments of this show are devised to disclose their conceptual and thematic associations as in a chain‐reaction, where the individual frameworks are determined by the critical inputs presented within a preceding one. The Third Party explores the shaping relationships between narrative and aesthetic objects to foreground an inquiry in the realm of the ‘ordinary’ specific to the Chinese context. It does so by mobilizing overarching frames of reference and critique currently at play, be those aesthetic or historical, through three analytical environments tackling respectively issues of self-historicization, witnessing/archiving and collaboration. The progressive movement of the show somehow attends to the patterns of identification inherent in the day‐to‐day business of learning and communicating of and through our bodies, spaces, feelings as we build an understanding of reality and ultimately our position within it. The Third Party therefore concerns itself with matters of mapping, the tracing of patterns of both presence and absence and the ideological constitution of subjects.

The Third Party was chosen as “Best of 2011” in ArtForum, December 2011.

ACT 1.  How to Be Alone (or Nowhere else am I safe from the question: why here?) | November 11 – 30, 2010
ACT 2.  The Stranger | December 9 – 27, 2010
ACT 3.  The Third Party – A Group Celebration! | January 7 – 24, 2011


CDM 2010

CDM 2010 – Rizzoli Beijing

April 14 – 19, 2010
Salone Internazionale del Mobile – Milan Design Week
Design Library | Milano, IT

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graphic design and media kit ::

China Design Market (CDM) has been born out of the collaborative efforts of Rizzoli Beijing/Abitare China magazine and BIDC (Beijing Industrial Design Center), with the support of the Lenovo Group. It was launched in 2008 as a cooperative platform for the promotion and enhancement of strategic synergies between the international design world and China. CDM 2010 included three main projects, including an exhibition, a special project realized in collaboration with Alessi (curated by Gary CHAN) and a showcase of the homegrown Chinese Red Star Award dedicated to industrial design.

Art direction included curating and coordination of all projects, concept & editing of the catalogue and media kit.

main organizers :: Rizzoli Beijing (RCS Media Group), BIDC (Beijing Industrial Design Centre)
in collaboration with :: Lenovo & Alessi
art direction :: BAO Atelier


The Secret Life of Things in Chinese Art and Design

April 14 – 19, 2010
Salone Internazionale del Mobile – Milan Design Week | project of CDM 2010
Design Library | Milano, IT

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curator :: Beatrice LEANZA
exhibition design ::  LI Naihan
catalogue design ::

Introduced within the framework of CDM 2010, the exhibition is conceived as a wondrous journey into contemporary object-scapes through the creative processes of a young generation of 30 Chinese independent designers, artists and studios as a way to explore both formally and conceptually the micro-fields of everyday life. This curatorial approach wishes to expose the multiple outreaches of design processes and research into a variety of crossdisciplinary practices and how these speak of a perception of the world and contemporary life, stretched into a continuous experimentation with its visual and material currency. The works and projects featured in the exhibition – ranging from products, furniture and lights to clothing, publication/illustration, sound and art objects, intend to inform of the shaping relationships between visual strategies in art, architecture and design and their implication with material processes of production that take the realm of the ‘ordinary’ as an ideal environment to continuously reinvent the cultural outfit of personal history into a process of performative innovation. The show highlights how these selected creative practices engage forms via strategies of subtle sabotage, appropriation, assemblage, where found shapes, materials and objects of everyday use are remoulded into a geography of whimsical ambiguity and disarming über-reality.
A selected series of books, artists’ catalogues and independent publications by Chinese graphic designers and studios are included as part of the exhibition.

featuring ::  ACF, BANMOO, CENG Hong, CHEN Ke, Design MVW, DUAN Jianyu, DUOXIANG Studio, HC28, HOMESHOP, JIANG Jin, SHAN Lin by LEE Yao Studio, Naihan LI & CO, LIANG Yuanwei, LI Yonglin, LING & COMMA, MADE-IN / LEAP, MEWE Design, MORE LESS, OHO-OHO, PAPER WORKS by Jethro CHAN, PEP Art + Design, RAINBOW, Tom SHI Design, SUBjam, WANG Bin, WANG Yifan, XIAOmage + CHENGzi, XIE Dong, XYZ Design, YAANG by WANG Yang, YANG Jun, ZHANG Dandan, ZHENG Guogu, ZIZAOSHE by SONG Tao

main organizers :: Rizzoli Beijing (RCS Media Group), BIDC (Beijing Industrial Design Centre)
in collaboration with :: Lenovo & Alessi
art direction :: BAO Atelier

Public Viewings

Mnemonics of the Self and Social Space in the film works of 7 Chinese artists

Screening program and public presentation

video animation

November 13, 2009
Salon of MoCAb – Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade
in collaboration ::  Jelena VESIC

November 18, 2009
Galeria Nova | Zagreb, CR
support :: WHW Collective

artists ::  CHEN Xiaoyun (1971, lives and works in Hangzhou), GAO Shiqiang (1971, lives and works in Hangzhou), LU Chunsheng (1968, Shanghai), QIU Anxiong (1972, Sichuan province; lives and works in Shanghai), SHI Qing (1969, Inner Mongolia; lives and works in Beijing), SUN Xun (1980, Fuxin; lives and works in Beijing), ZHANG Ding (1980, Gansu; lives and works in Shanghai)

Much of the literature compiled around the popularity of Chinese contemporary art is generally concerned with its commitment to an aesthetic modernization process that satisfies international exhibitions’ agenda by translating the social and economic implications of an increasingly globalized country into the critical achievements sustained by its creative miracle. While such form of discourse is motivated by transformative notions of urban growth, social development, economic differentiation, and is largely interpreted via a secular portraiture of changing credos and mentalities, not much of it seems to engage with the less manifest phenomena informing the shifting nature of private and public spatiality as culturally and subjectively constructed processes.

In recasting attention to the processes of spatial voyage and memory formation through the filmic experiments of these artists – be those documentary evidence, fictive journey or personal diary — subtle commentaries of self-disclosure reappear into a totally new feature of change which no longer inhabits the vestiges of the past – its symbols, iconographies and idols, but sits on the ruins of the present by eliciting mental, psychological and spatial associations of contemporary ‘inner landscapes’ . By articulating intimate writings into the architectural peripatetics of moving pictures, these artists’ works make use of an elliptic emphasis on subjectivity, mnemonics and imaging, so that the viewing product comes into being as a space of collective recollection where social fundaments and behavioural schema are readjusted into the artists’ contemplation of interpersonal dependencies and historical loci.

Public Viewings thus represents an attempt to elucidate theoretically and aesthetically on the changing psyche and processes of identity formation in contemporary China through their aesthetic re-enactment in cinematic space. In the wake of critical historical changes defined by forms of transcultural regionalism and denationalization in place in the Asian continent, a dive into the representational apparatus of the Self in the reality of globalizing China is a necessary exercise for anyone interested in venturing inside a yet un-coded domain of public culture where networked societies and a-political subjectivities are shaping new sociological mainstays.


A New Common Sense of Space

November 4 – December 8, 2009
Museo della Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci | Milano, IT

curator :: Beatrice LEANZA
exhibition design & graphic project :: studio dotdotdot, Milano
catalogue design :: LI Naihan

artists :: AHN Doojin, Ahn Kanghyun, AN Jungju, BAE Young Whan, BIRDHEAD (SONG Tao & JI Weiyu), GAO Shiqiang, HASHIMOTO Satoshi, Elaine W. HO for HOMESHOP, JUNG Yeondoo, Kim GISOO , KIM Sangdon, LEE Wooyeon, LI Naihan, Liang Shuo, MATSUBARA Megumi, MIN Ji Ae, NI Haifeng/Arrow Factory, NIWA Yotaro, QIU Xiaofei, Siren EUN Young Jung, TANAKA Koki, MICHIKAZU Matsune/The SHOP, XIJING MEN (GIM Hongsok, CHEN Shaoxiong & OZAWA Tsuyoshi), YAN Jun, YANG Jun, KIMURA Yuki, KIMURA Taiyo.

Presented for the first time in Milan, the exhibition features the works of 27 artists from China, Japan and South Korea. The project sets forth an investigation of multidisciplinary artistic practices which implicate new formal and conceptual relationships with the space of the contemporary and the habitat of the everyday, by introducing a heterogeneous group of artists, art collectives and independently-run art spaces with backgrounds in art, design, sound and architecture.
The projects included in this exhibition manifest an intrinsic connection with the spatial and social conventions of their original contexts, and intend to provide an understanding of the way younger generations are formulating new ways to deal with the space of art and social action by assuming a position of open, dynamic marginality. The tentative, incomplete quality of these, for the large part, installation-based works (featuring photography, video, drawing, architectural interventions, publications, performances, sculpture) comes into being as a product of intimate negotiation and continuous readjustment with the immediate environment and its social implications by forging aesthetic assemblages that subtend re-invented symbolisms and meanings for the contemporary.

The aesthetic order framed within this exhibition inhabits the episodic nature of reality by reconnecting to its fragmented, scattered, precarious objects via subtle strategies of self-design, where fragile materials of everyday use and familiar forms are reassembled into new spatial relationships.

The abandoned, discarded and cheap materials which are often employed in these works are recollected and brought into new relations of force, so to expand the field of vision beyond their contingent materiality. In this sense the relationship kindled between the viewer and the work is ever reformulated onto an ambiguous, non-deterministic territory, where consciousness and recognition are negated a manifest environment and rather accommodated in an unstable, non-representational space enforced by a rhetoric of the unexpressed.

The show included opening performances and new site specific installations by five artists.

promoted by :: Regione Lombardia
with the support of :: BMP Sas (Milano), The Nomura Cultural Foundation (Tokyo), Unione del Commercio, del Turismo, dei Servizi e delle Professioni della Provincia di Milano.
technical Sponsor :: Hantarex, Electronic Systems, Milano
supported by :: Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Milano, The General Consulate of Japan in Milano, The General Consulate of the Republic of Korea

Emporium was selected for best exhibition design in ADI – Design Index 2010 as finalist for the Compasso D’Oro Award.


The Shape of Things to Come

September 8 – October 20, 2009
140 sqm Gallery | Shanghai, CN

curator ::  Beatrice Leanza
participating artists ::  Elaine W. HO, LIANG Shuo, QIU Xiaofei, SUN Xun


…all about a kind of door. To envision us approaching and pounding on this door, increasingly hard, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing it; we don’t know what it is but we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and ramming and kicking. That, finally, the door opens, and it opens outward — we’ve been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch.

David Foster Wallace

The Shape of Things to Come is an experimental project bringing together four artists and one curator to test the ground of contemporary art in a time ‘other than’ the present. Conceived in reminiscence of a Wunderkammer, or Cabinet of Curiosity, the exhibition engages the task of exposing the status of artistic objects to scientific self-inspection. It does so by stretching the visual narratives and spatial extents of the creative process past its extinction, into the realm of a possible future. As the Cabinet contained an object-ified reservoir of history, this project deliberately captures itself and the works toward a latent new aesthetic order.  Written in 1933 at the peak of the Great Depression, the novel by H.G. WELLS from which this exhibition takes its name provides an account of world history up to 2105; in a disastrous unraveling of ominous predictions towards global collapse, Well’s imagination purges the traces of the present with no regret for its oblivious passing away. What then, if we were able to test-drive the deflagration of our aesthetic universe? Manufactured in the conceptual size of a table-game, what parcels of history, relics of the contemporary, would be left as a visual repository of our present times, and in what new semiotic order would they re-awaken so that by way of an exhilarating expansion, stretched between experience and premonition, they’d frame the possibility of a hopeful artistic prophecy beyond its predictable end. Such is seemingly the quest of the current age. How to jump start history?  Can we avoid a critical conflation of artistic paradigms, that is, a totalizing erasure of things past, their identity and difference, and still break through a concrete future? The project’s participants use the site and economics of the exhibition to play out such a fantastic threat. Site-specifically devised for the 140sqm Gallery, the show presents a series of interlocking installations and textual interventions where boundaries continue to be tested and stripped down.


The Opportunist: 100 Hours!

Poetics of Delay, Neglect and Exclusion

September 2008
Borderline Moving Images – Shanghai edition (unrealized project)
Special Edition within the framework of INTRUDE – Art & Life (Zendai Museum)
Shanghai & Beijing, CN

concept and curation ::  Beatrice LEANZA
visual design ::  LI Naihan

Borderline-Shanghai will be featured under the subjective spell of an anonymous yet controversial singularity: figure of dismay and contingency, timing itself between estrangement and familiarity, between the soliloquy and the public arringa, it survives complacently in the anti-systemic organism of the network, swerving from unexpected change, to shock and displacement, the Opportunist is an emotional personality that runs the flexible tides of communal life in the global spectacle of the post-fordist multitude. By appropriating this contentious tonality of contemporary life (an attributive image framed by philosopher Paolo VIRNO within the labor regime of new capitalism) and its transnational modalities of unmediated performance, Borderline orchestrates while investigating the topography of loosened hierarchies and modes of subjectivation, to interrogate the diffused reengagement of art in sociopolitical concerns against the locality of present Shanghai.

In the one dimensional time of the Opportunist work and leisure have no longer fixed separation, sociality has become a cognitive and behavioral technicality, information a form of art. Regardless of where and when you are, discarding the notion of mediation as a programmatic agenda for collective thinking, the Opportunist gathers the anomalies of disinformation, indifference and delusion to forge instead hospitality, awareness and solidarity. While believing in the power of self-expression, the Opportunist challenges its contemporary understanding as a form of strategic survival within the governance of the artistic spectacle and its power structures. By entering what Gerald RAUNIG has defined the “paradox of creativity as self-government”, this free-flow of subjective views will be drawn together in an ephemeral structure of open-signification to produce a collective engagement for thoughts and optimism. Sensitive to the fluid nature of the city, Borderline will intrude the specificity of its fast paced life by deploying art in a full-time assault into a continuous 100 hours programation among critique, provocation, poetry and entertainment.

The Opportunist is designed as an information network revolving around a broadcasting unit, it is an experiential tool for motivating an alternative experience of space by way of time. With a total of 100 hours of programmation (ie., 4 days + 4 hours) The Opportunist will take up different forms of public interventions in both physical sites, “on air” sessions and the web.

忠站 DeadEnd

December 2007
A project for the Second Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism
Shenzhen, CN

curator ::  Beatrice LEANZA
in collaboration ::  何颖雅 Elaine W. HO
graphics & uniform design ::

artists // 宋琨 SONG Kun (artist; Beijing, CN), 洪启乐 HONG Qile (sound artist/musician; Hangzhou, CN), Can ALTAY & Asli KALINOGLU (architect & artist; Ankara, TR), Patrick TUTTOFUOCO (artist; Milano, IT), PROGRAM initiative for art + architecture/Carson CHAN & Fotini LAZARIDOU-HATZIGOGA (architecture & design; Berlin, DE)

DeadEnd is predicated on the disconcerting experience of urban destinations as increasingly orchestrated spectacles, dissimulating participation, observation and accumulation in “pictorialized time/space” resorts (M. Christine BOYER). This form of programmed anticipation, widely deployed in strategies of city marketing, tourism enterprise and cultural entertainment, is one that appropriates the concept of termination not as an end in space but an end in experience, which disposes of the cultural mediation of difference by severing the city from its possible (multiple) reconstructions. Five new works have been commissioned by BAO Atelier as tour guides/mental scapes for pedicab journeys from the main Biennale venue into greater Shenzhen. Under the urgency of a city of expiration, each work and its concordant route is assigned one of five pedicabs to be stationed at the exit of the primary exhibition hall of the biennial at the DeadEnd station.


Nike China ’08

Nike 706

November 2006
Dashanzi Art District | Nike Energy Space

Creative research and concept development for opening event, program planning and art direction of Nike China’s creative space in 798 Art District. Located in one of the largest industrial spaces within the well-known art district, Nike 706 looked at creating a foundation for informed brand and culture appreciation by delivering a cumulative consumer experience over the course of 2 years, in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The research focused on an analysis of existing subcultural trends, neo-tribal communities and creative industries in contemporary China.
Book, print items and program planning.


Nike China ’08

January – October 2007
Nike & Beijing 08 Olympics | Golden Team

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On the backdrop of the 2008 Olympics, an in-depth case study of local youth trends and sport culture through the lens of Nike’s start athletes, developing strategic creative formats redefining the brand’s positioning and its impact in contemporary urban culture. Production of research tools, multimedia and textual supports.


Nike Alter Ego

January – October 2007
Nike & Beijing ’08 Olympics | Golden Team Manga Series

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Integrated yet running parallel to the research for Nike China ’08, this project included development of concept structure, storyboards and production plan for a series of comic books fictionalizing sport and sportsmanship through the life and adventures in a mysterious megacity.

Borderline – Moving Images

June 23 – July 1, 2007
various locations | Beijing, CN

art direction ::  Beatrice LEANZA & Pauline DOUTRELUINGNE
main organizers :: BAO Atelier & Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing
in collaboration with: Soho China, Ltd., 86/33 Link, Theatre in Motion, Chaos Projects
supporting institutions :: CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts), Beijing Film Academy, Goethe Institute Peking, Austrian Cultural Forum, Norwegian Office of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Belgium in China, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations (Mexico), Icelandic Art Center
sponsored by :: MinSheng Bank, Barco, Boloni Group, Intelligent Alternative
media partners :: Modern Media, Domus China, Time Out Beijing,, City Pictorial, City Weekend, Vision, Art&Design China

An experimental urban platform unfolding over the course of nine days, it takes as its area of investigation the interconnection between visual production and contemporary urban culture with a focus on video art and its multidisciplinary accounts. Conceived as a continuous narrative, the event moved every day into a new location within different areas of Beijing city, networked through public and private institutions, commercial and educational spaces including universities, galleries and art venues.

It featured an international program of both exhibitions and public programs such as talks, workshops, screenings, and live performances bridging perspectives from installation, short film, documentary, animation, performance and music, sound art, architecture and design.

Borderline‘s structure included three overarching sections: 2 thematic exhibitions, 6 days of Mobile Lab and night events. Full content on all events can be viewed at



A Theory-Fiction between the Real and the Possible

June 2007
Soho Shangdu Underground Parking Lot | Opening exhibition of Borderline Moving Images 2007
Beijing, CN

curator :: Beatrice LEANZA
exhibition design :: LI Naihan

participating artists :: Fikret ATAY, Johanna BILLING, Candice BREITZ, Mircea CANTOR, Calin DAN, Claire FONTAINE, GAO Shiqiang (高世强), Clarisse HAHN, Teresa HUBBARD & Alexander BIRCHLER, Jesper JUST, Mathieu LAURETTE, Melik OHANIAN, OU Ning & CAO Fei (欧宁 & 曹斐),  SHI Qing (石青), Ulla Von BRANDEMBURG, WU Wenguang (吴文光), ZHANG Peili (张培力).

A constructed story-telling portrayed by the experiments of 17 international artists, Seduction is a theory-fiction inspired by the homonymous book by French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, featuring diverse video installations, including documentary, experimental video, and footage appropriated from personal and public archival material, CCTVs, mass media, pop culture video-clips, cinema repertory, etc.

“On the backdrop of modernization and the inspirational economic leverage incited by the countdown to the Olympics, the changing relationship between politics and culture articulates within a process of experimentation which interrogates locality and its historicity against, on a side, the products of global consumerist culture, and on the other, the convergence of new models of spatial thinking and occupation, popular culture, social ‘neo-neo-tribalism’, corporate branding, viral marketing and hybrid libidinal economies. The perpetual nature of this predominantly visual production giving rise to new urban imaginaries speaks to the paradigmatic quality of fluid social networks, where communication is situational, metaphorically consumed in the digital time of internet and experienced in the superficial flux of moving images. Indeed the synthesis of global connectivity is not only challenging our sense of space, but also that of human presence within; while displacing the time of history in a one-dimensional media flow, it furthers brings into questions that of its immanent possibilities and “invisible” modes of existence. It is thus in the spatial convergence of our mental vocabulary/memory, one of compound narrativity and filmic character, and the digital tempo of contemporary hyper-production that opens up the measure for art to forge critical distance and innovative models of counter-representation.”


Three Exhibitions in a Box

June 2006
part of Borderline – Moving Images Festival 2006
Platform China Contemporary Art Institute | Beijing, CN

participating artists :: GUO Peng (Kunming, CN), Terry LAI (HK), Anne PENDERS (BE), Timo VAITINNEN (FI),Anssi PULKKINEN (FI), Pawel WOJTASIK (PL/USA), WU Ershan (Beijing, CN), WU Quan (Beijing, CN), HAN Zi, TANG Xiru, LU Yitong, PANG Wenlong, LIANG Wei and LI Zhenhua (Beijing, CN), Cristina Diana SERESINI (IT),  LI Hong Ting (HK), Jens R. CHRISTENSEN (DK), HUANG Jianbo (CN), SUN Xun (CN) and Jonas GEERNAERTS (BE), Jean-Sebastien LALLEMAND (FR), Elaine W. HO (HK/USA) & David GIBBS (NL/IS), Stefaan DHEEDENE (BE), Hee-Yeon PARK (KO) and OU Ning (Guangzhou, CN)

The three parts of the show are each occupying a different area of Platform China’s space, each of which presenting international artists working with different video-based formats. The works ranged in single and multiple channel videos, documentary and research projects as well as animation: NOMANSLAND / ANYMANSLAND / STRAITS.

Object Cast

An Immersive Installation of Objects and Sound

22 January – 26 March 2006
BTAP – Beijing Tokyo Art Projects | 798 District, Beijing

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installation :: Andrea GOTTI
soundscape :: FM3
supported by :: Italian Cultural Institute in Beijing

This immersive installation chooses the billiard table as a metaphorical space, a mystical ‘immobile machine’ where the object is place and abode of time, a platform of translated perception and process of identification, around which Andrea GOTTI orchestrates an unpredictable theatre of objet trouvé (electric transformers, cables, industrial waste, etc). Time and place are called into a game where they can reconfigure mutual positioning into hybrid chrono-topological formulas, and where arcane mysticisms are revealed through the sound architecture by FM3.

Object Cast was part of the programme for the Italian Cultural Year in China – 2006.