Shanghai, China – 2016
AIM TEN was a curated exhibition that highlighted projects, ideas, and experiences of the last ten years. Open to the public from Dec 9 -12, 2016, it marked a decade of travel, transitions, and transformation.
Ten years ago, Wendy Saunders and Vincent de Graaf came to China with no expectation or plan, but simply a desire to try something new. The AIM TEN installation is a celebration of that desire, still present in their work today. It is also a homage to travel and transition, and the questions that get asked when confronted with newness. Instinct tells us in times of change to seek a point of reference, to look for a way to contextualize. When nothing is familiar, there is freedom.
Our approach to architecture and design for the last ten years has been a journey of ideas and identities. The challenge has been to adapt, to stay just outside of our comfort zone and build spaces of new understanding. Our work is a reflection of this evolution, and still is. AIM TEN endeavors to translate and share 10 years of emotion and ideas. The power of ten is a dedication to process, transformation, and reflection.
Part I – Inside looking out, or outside looking in?
The structure is made of metal stud, commonly used to build walls. Generally, the walls become spaces themselves, and the material is never visible.
As foreigners here we are always aliens. We are seen but not the same. One part of a society but never wholly incorporated. We experience that difference spatially first, physically, the visible self in a space.
The actual space might become awkward fitting, something not quite right. There is an internal negotiation between seeing a real space, and perhaps even inhabiting it, but never truly being a part of it.
In between times are often uncomfortable, but the kind of discomfort that comes with untested boundaries. Here, the space and material are free to be something more. Perhaps more of use, more of what we need but might not know yet. A frame of some kind, to hold or see through. A frame within which we are exposed, and exhibited.
Part II – The more we look, the more we find.
During the process of curating 10 years of thoughts, experiences and change, we saw again how definitions and concepts can be elusive, and new directions constantly reveal themselves. The curation became an exploration of spatial connections and relationships.
A collection of panels are hung on the structure to form what represents a room, or space. An exercise in material, each backdrop was made from different material, such as wood, marble, glass, and each ‘box’ its own theme. The boxes are set next to each other, but some do not belong. Rather, it is a well-designed familiarity. An intimacy created, not innate, but nonetheless real. The emphasis on material mirrors our process-oriented architecture: ten years of trying new things and testing new concepts.
Part III – community
We come together in this city for many reasons, and we come from all over the world, often a mutual sense of difference as a bond. This space is about welcoming community and connection. With its rectangular shape, pitched roof, and large, circular table, it evokes a home.
Dinner tables both cultivate and compel togetherness. Because of the size and shape, one could say it is a more like a landscape. At least, it has an opportunity to become a landscape – a place to unite the AIM community for celebration and invite moments of reflection: where we are, how we came to be here, and where we are going next.
Part IV – future room
Shanghai is our home away from home. For ten years we have been transforming, readjusting, and adapting to the churning and changing of a huge city that we have grown to love.
We arrived with questions, and stay with new ones. The beauty of this city and our work is in the exploration, the multiple ways of response, and the dream of the traveler.
Project Name: AIMTEN Exhibition Design
Size: 330 sqm
Design and curation: Wendy Saunders, Vincent de Graaf, German Roig, Cindy Xu, Isabel Qin and alter labs
Site provider: GENTSPACE
Landlord: Shanghai Hengfu Investment & Development Co., Ltd.
Property Management: Colliers International
Photography: Vladimir Milosevic, Ivan Masic, Marina Erdeljan, Byungmin Jeon and AIM
Construction: Tan Wenyuan