COLLECTIVE’s design for “Shifting Objectives, Design in the M+ Collection” not only showcases the visual culture museum’s growing design collection but also highlights this show’s contribution to the evolving design ecology of Hong Kong and the region. Working in close dialogue with the design curators of M+ and with meticulous analysis of the collection’s design objects, COLLECTIVE conceptualized an exhibition that presents the tightly-edited survey of design, spanning post-war productions to contemporary processes, with spatial clarity and intellectual rigor. The visitor will experience an elegantly crafted space that also delivers a seminal narrative on the role of design in Asia and the role of Asia in design, historically and today, as curated by the design team of the M+ Museum.  

The first five sections of the collection, historical overviews of “Form and Metamorphosis”, “Nation Building,” “Collectivization and Production,” “Export and Ingenuity,” and “Totem and Talismans,” are enclosed in five interconnected and traversable, but differently shaped ‘rooms,’ the form of each room echoing the aura of the represented eras. Wall niches and pedestals, customized to accommodate the design objects and archival materials, further emphasize the museological ambiance of these sections that already have formed discourses. At the same time, the visual and physical connections of the “Form and Metamorphosis” with “Nation Building” sections, “Collectivization and Production” with “Export and Ingenuity” sections, creating a gathering space between them and with the “Totem and Talismans” section, emphasize their historical and conceptual overlaps.

In contrast to the more defined ‘rooms’ of the historic sections, the final section “Contemporary Constellations,” is an open field showcasing more recent design products that still await canonization, ranging from drones, shanzhai objects to open source and digital production processes. In this section, consisting of around one third of the total objects shown, these more recent objects and processes for design reflect the realities of economic development and transition in Asia. They more importantly show the shifting frameworks for understanding design here and today, in the context of the part of the world in which Hong Kong is situated and within the broader networks of globalization.

The contrast of intimate walled spaces showcasing design objects often by modern to post-modern design autors, to the expansive field of increasingly open-source processes that subvert the authenticity that has traditionally defined design, is a spatial strategy for highlighting the ‘shifting objectives’ of this pivotal show. Understanding the crucial role that this debut exhibition plays for both public outreach as well as the development of a discipline-specific discourse, COLLECTIVE’s design for the exhibition inside the M+ Pavilion reinforces the M+ team’s curatorial approach of expanding our understanding of design.


DATE: 30 November 2016 to 5 February, 2017

LOCATION: M+ Pavilion at West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong

CLIENT: M+, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority

AREA: 3000 square feet

COLLECTIVE TEAM: Betty Ng, Juan Minguez, Katja Lam, Ying Zhou, Justin Yeung




AS SEEN ON: Wallpaper / Dezeen / Designboom / Form / Art Daily /  West Kowloon Cultural District Authority