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.