Life is a Design
- in Press
- posted September 2, 2013
From BAZAAR ART, September, 2013
[Editor / Sun Guosheng] [Text / Xie Ding] [Vision / Zhao Fang] [Editor / Yao Yaxuan] [Photography / Zhou Bin] [site, information picture provided / Wang Kaifang Studio]
In the afternoon of August 2013, the beginning of autumn, we came to Wang Kaifang’s studio, which is full of lawns, everybody “see each other barefoot” and enjoy the feeling of “down to earth”. The wild cat he has been raising for more than a year has recently been terminally ill and quietly lying on the lawn to spend his last free time. Wang Kaifang is sad, but restrain oneself. He doesn’t think that “death” is terrible. It is a smart design. Longing for longevity is the greed of desire. After many years of interior design, architecture and artistic creation, he does not bother to design his own great goals, because “everyone has his own designed fate, as long as the heart is to perceive and seriously depict, it is a beautiful life. “.
It is not a dragon, but a chilopod
Wang Kaifang lived half of his life, thick and colorful, likes a whole lifetime of other people. He is an optimist, seeing life or death a common thing. His friends called him “Happy Wang.” He has encountered several life-threatening things in his life, and he was fortunate enough to avoid them.
Some troubles are self-seeking. For example, when traveling to Africa, it is said that Uganda and Burundi are very dangerous. Before leaving, he left a letter to his friend and to let them hand it over to his parents if he could not return. He said that people will eventually die, and maybe they will be hit when they walking outside. “Some people are willing to live safely and steadily, and I am more passionate about freedom.”
Some are a miracle. In the late 1990s, he had a car accident. Very serious, the car was scrapped on the spot, but he was safe and sound. The police arrived at the scene and asked with a glance, what about the driver? Wang Kaifang said, I am. The police were dumbfounded and marveled that “the driver is safe is a miracle!”.
Wang Kaifang said it is a gift from life that should be grateful.
Wang Kaifang likes to talk about fate and luck theory. Everyone is a seed. “If a man plants melons, he will reap melons; if he sows beans, he will reap beans, which is a non-changeable gene. It is fate.” He said, “There are obstacles in growth and choose to change the development trajectory. This is luck.” The Chinese word life is composed by fate and luck. In the genes, there are constant fate, and changeable luck. In this way, life is colorful.
Optimistic about life, Wang Kaifang has a famous saying. He said: “If you want to do something, as long as you feel that it is from the heart and already ready for it, then do it! Everything else is a technical problem, you can solve it.” His nature.
Wang Kaifang’s own general direction is to listen to his inner voice. He thought about what he was going to do, and no one could stop it. This is his natural gene, exceptionally free and firm. When he was young, some people said that he is too willful. In a good way, he is good at listening to his beliefs, in the other way, he is an alternative.
“A person who knows the astrology would figure out I am Sagittarius at first glance.” he said.
Wang Kaifang loves to “self-inflicted setback” which is notorious. When he was young, he painted, created calligraphy, and participated in calligraphy exhibitions and photography exhibitions in the museum. Graduated to engage in architecture and become famous for interior design. He also loves to travel, Africa, India, South America, the Antarctic and other 90 countries. He also wrote a column for the magazine. He designed creative products for international brands and became a popular designer. In recent years, he has participated in many art exhibitions at home and abroad, and has won various “xx artists” titles. Now, he has written another book called “The Origin of Species by means of Design”. At the beginning, he questioned Darwin’s theory of evolution. He was also invited to give a speech at the World Interior Design Conference, and he walked on the path of the philosopher.
“Maybe in the eyes of others, I am a wild card.” He said, “Someone said that I am a weirdo, someone said my nerves are not normal.” He is the kind of alternative, never walks in mainstream, and doesn’t care about mainstream thing. But in this cross-strait slit he has created a lot of wonderful and amazing, and is gradually being recognized by mainstream people. Many people say that he is a “crossover master” – he said that there is no boundary in the heart, why there is crossover? Sometimes, he feels like he is a bird in the air. He doesn’t care if he flies from Dongcheng District to Chaoyang District or from China to Russia. “Looking at the macroscopic way, the sky don’t have boundary.” He said, “The beginning of human evolution is a more and more detailed classification and division of labor, and the various boundaries are divided into different civilizations. The future of evolution will reintegrate these boundaries into a larger and more seamless civilized machine.”
He does not make long-term plans for his own life, step by step, one step at a time. When he was young, he never thought about going to the Antarctic, never thought about running a marathon, and never thought about running a solo exhibition at the National Art Museum. As a result, he is now realizing it. “Do I have any great ideals? I really haven’t.” He said, “Strictly move forward, and at the intersection ahead, you will see the direction of progress.”, “I said to myself, if you are tired, you can stop at any time. Not hurry, but the scenery ahead is more beautiful.”
On the ceiling of his studio, a set of tubes was hung and stretched in a zig-zag shape. Someone met, saying that is that a dragon? He laughed, it was just a chilopod, which has so much legs, like Wang Kaifang himself, letting each nerve ending stretch out and move forward, and is also willing to explore all possible directions.
Design is not culture, but evolution
Wang Kaifang’s “free and persistent” style is also famous in the circle of friends. He has an old friend Jiang Chuan, who is a college classmate. He said that when he was young, he was “unfettered. The passion was burning and very impulsive.” This may be related to his family background. Parents are diplomats, abroad for years. Wang Kaifang had to face problem all by himself.
He was born in Beijing, three brothers, he is the youngest. When I was in college in 1986, he originally wanted to go to the architecture department, but the total score was not enough, so had to enter the mechanical and electrical department of the Beijing Institute of Architecture and Engineering. Jiang Chuan said that in most cases, people will accept it. Jiang Chuan also wants to learn architecture, but he is on the same department as Wang Kaifang. However, Wang Kaifang showed different at that time. He was very persistent and tried his best to try to transfer. The principal said that there is no such precedent. But as Wang Kaifang later said – this is just a technical issue. He fought for one year. At the end of the year, he was moved by the principals and teachers with excellent credits and outstanding performance. He became the first transfer student in the history of the college.
At school, Wang Kaifang was always a famous people. Especially in the third year, it coincided with the turmoil in the 1989. His positive enthusiasm made him a celebrity at the then. He also seemed to be not scared. During the university, through the winter and summer vacations, he traveled almost all over China, heading south to Miao Village in Guizhou and heading west to the Silk Road. His travel exhibition “Alone All The Way” shown at the school, filled the window of the school gate and made waves in the campus. He rarely talked about these later, including his experience of selling paintings in the Beijing Railway Station. He seems to be disdainful of these.
After graduation, Wang Kaifang went to China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. CSCEC is the industry leader, and Wang Kaifang has become a leader insider. He was extremely responsible for his work, often consciously working overtime and pursuing perfection in design. Only one year, due to his outstanding performance, he was won an Oustanding Person Award in the CSCEC System. He was sent to the United States for inspection and promoted to the manager of the CSCEC Overseas Design Department. He also presided over key projects such as the Great Hall of the People, Quanjude and Bank of China. He hosted the Friendship Hotel interior design project (1991-1994), which is still hanging on the wall of his studio. The seriousness of official business was remarkable, and part time job was not avoided, and it’s a one-stop from design to construction. His first moonlighting was the Jingcheng Haibawang Restaurant near Weigong Village in 1992. That time, he became a real “Ten Thousand Households.” Later, with his positive reviews, moonlights were getting bigger and bigger. In this way, he still does not delay his official job, and he was more experienced and more capable. His point of view was that moonlighting can train people best, let designers see the management, policies, regulations, social contact, society, and human feelings behind the drawings. At his busiest time, he was doing eight projects at the same time, regular jobs, part-time jobs, design, construction, hotel, kindergarten, domestic and overseas. That year he was overworked, vomiting blood at the construction site.
In 1995, Wang Kaifang established the Beijing Horizon Decoration & Engineering Co., Ltd. and his own studio, and officially resigned in the following year. Jiangchuan remembers that the company was in the expensive position of Scitech Mall, the most high end mall in Beijing, two floors. Wang Kaifang personally sat there to communicate with customers. Jiang Chuan said that unlike other designers or bosses, Wang Kaifang always considers the problem from the perspective of the customer. Most of his customers are satisfied with the design he has come up with.
It was still in 1997, Jiang Jiang’s mother’s home was renovated, and Wang Kaifang went to see it. He looked around and made a lot of suggestions. He said to Jiang Chuan: “Don’t let me decorate, the workers are too expensive.” But the house still maintains his recommendations of the year, never outdated. His sensitivity to interior design lies in aesthetics and practicality. This philosophy has been maintained to this day. Years later, in the “Twelve” project of Beijing International Design Week in 2012, which was a public welfare design by 12 domestic top designers for the Beijing Relocation House model room. Jiang Chuan believes that Wang Kaifang’s design is still the best and most human.
Open the company and let Wang Kaifang make a lot of money. But he also spent a lot of. Finally had ability to travel around the world. “Walking a thousand miles, reading a million books” is his constant gene.
In Beijing, he lived in the Jianguo Hotel all the year round, only because the south-facing rooms on the first floor had balcony above the water, surrounded by bamboo. In his eyes, this is the only paradise in Beijing. Jiangchuan and his friends often went to chat with him, drank and swam. Many times, Wang Kaifang asked them to go to a restaurant, saying, free to eat, this shop owed him the construction money, take the food to pay the debt.
Wang Kaifang’s friends are always many and there are from areas. Many of them are customers, but they all become friends and also old classmates like Jiang Chuan. But his standard of making friends is very different. I don’t look at the so-called moral quality. He preferred truth.
“He is very pure. His heart is very clean.” Jiang Chuan said, “Maybe it is psychological cleanliness.”
Wang Kaifang’s clean does not seem to be affected by the big times. On the contrary, it is getting more and more extreme. The more places he goes, the more people and things he experiences, the more things he can’t accept. Jiang Chuan said that when he graduated, Wang Kaifang had an ambition and said that he must make a landmark building in the future and leave it to future generations. This is also the ideal of many architecture graduates.
But once more than a decade ago, he told Jiang Chuan that he would like to do “degradable buildings” in the future. That is a new term, Jiang Chuan was very strange. Wang Kaifang explained: “The earth is too small. If it is filled with reinforced concrete, what should the future generations do?” The conversation Jiangchuan was very impressed. He found that Wang Kaifang changed a lot.
Wang Kaifang considered that a product, designer give a birth to it, also should give death to it. He also has a famous saying: “Design is not culture, but evolution.” In this sense, Wang Kaifang himself is also evolving.
“The goal of life is not the destination, but the scenery on this road that lead you to appreciate.”
Ms. Belinda Chen, who was the vice president of China at Christie’s International Auction, first heard Wang Kaifang was in 2012. A friend recommended them to know, Belinda first searched the Internet and found the name, found that the media were saying that he is crossover. “I don’t like this statement very much.” Belinda said, “Do you say those ancient Chinese literates, do they have boundary?”
Belinda’s mind come up with another person, the Western designer Ron Arad. Wang Kaifang has similar life trajectory with him. They are all come from the architecture and famous for their design. Belinda thought that one day should make these two people know each other and come to a collision between East and West. On the Internet, Belinda saw Wang Kaifang’s art works. Her favorite is a big tongue in the Discourse Power series.
There are many pieces in the Discourse Power series, all of which are huge tongues. This series, began from 2008, Wang Kaifang continues every year. Since that year, he has officially entered the art market in cooperation with the Dongmen Art Museum in Taiwan. In that year, Wang Kaifang participated in thirteen international and domestic art exhibitions. In the following years, his various works of art appeared in several international exhibitions.
The work that Belinda likes, was the tongue in the pink color, very pure, making people feel very soft. But a sharp blade was suddenly inserted into the tip of the tongue. “In that moment, I was hit.” She said, “It feels like I was poked at once.” She thought, ok, I must know this person.
In Belinda’s view, Western sculptures are always slightly cold. However, Wang Kaifang’s works are temperature-sensitive. Even if involved in some social problems with heavy thinking, there is always a kind of love and warmth in it.
Last fall, Belinda Chen went to Wang Kaifang’s studio. As it happens, Wang Kaifang is creating a series of his new works, small gold bricks. At a glance, those bricks seem to be an art derivative. But Belinda seems to have seen an attitude from it. Her first question was: “Why is it brick?” She suspected that this might be related to Wang Kaifang’s past architectural experience. She later discussed with Wang Kaifang, but he did not remember the reason. In his memory, the bricks slowly floated out of the water. Wang Kaifang was preparing for the solo exhibition of the Spring Festival in Macau. He would place twelve large gold brick works in the public area of Macau. Belinda said that this public art is actually very difficult. Because you have to have an independent expression of the artist, but also have an impact on the public and society. You have to find a balance point. The final result surprised Belinda. She remembers that there was a piece of gold brick with a big hole. At first glance, people will have their own imagination. It may be a trace of a bullet passing through, or it may be a black hole in the universe. The name of the work is “The Sound of Love”, which is actually from the sound of the sea humpback whales. Wang Kaifang converts audio into a three-dimensional image, transforming hearing into vision and touch.
Belinda Chen said that Wang Kaifang is particularly handy in the expression of public art. This may be related to his early years of architecture and design experience, because those areas are facing customers and society, not pure self. “When he later went to the field of art, the temperature in his works, the interest in life, all came from all his past experiences.” Belinda Chen said.
Those experiences sounded like be planning step by step. But he himself believes that every step is actually very casual. Some things he has never said before. Most of what we heard were travel adventures. But some other things may have secretly influenced his view of the world. Jiang Chuan remembers that once, Wang Kaifang become a monk, and already spend months in the temple. It was the White Horse Temple in Henan, the first temple in China. It seems that very few people know where his ideas come from, maybe even he himself is not clear.
His first marathon was in Xiamen, 42 kilometers. His assistant is a marathon enthusiast and has run many times. Wang Kaifang only wanted to try. Before then, he ran the farthest distance was 5 kilometers when he was in college. He gave himself a pass line of 15 kilometers. When passed it, he thought, run a bit more, then it was half marathon. After 21 kilometers, when the first two sheltered vehicles passed by, he held back and thought about waiting for the next one. As a result, he already ran 30 kilometers.
Finally, when Wang Kaifang rushed to the finish line, no one was waiting for him. His friends went to the shelter to find him. He took a medal and smiled to meet friends, everyone stayed. In the next few days, he enjoyed the wonderful pain of not getting upstairs, getting out of bed, and three toe caps covered with congestion.
Wang Kaifang said that this is like his life. Never have a long goal. “I let my heart guide the direction.” He said, “The goal of life is not the destination, but the scenery on this road that lead you to appreciate.”
The man who breaks the rules
Wang Kaifang’s studio is located in a cultural and creative park on Chaoyang Road. At the entrance gate, stood his first digital sculpture of the 8m high hands Cinnabar Palm. The ground of the studio is a green lawn of artificial grass. Everyone have to take off their shoes. Wang Kaifang introduced his work with bare feet and smiled.
From 18 years ago till now, every project and every detail, Wang Kaifang do it in person. Friends say that he is way too perfect. But Belinda Chen also has a saying, should artists not do this? Excessive sensitivity, excessive pursuit of perfection, can not tolerance even a little defect.
Wang Kaifang said that one-third of the projects of the studio today are commercial, which is effective, one-third are research-based, and it is likely to produce benefits in the future. The other third are purely interest and experimentation or free exploration. His creation and the atmosphere of the entire studio are tense and pleasant, not want it to be company rather than a big family. He said that this is what he seeking for.
In his forthcoming book, The Origin Species By Means Of Design, sentences are reciting vocabulary as quotations. What is five elements in the universe? What is a bird, cat, dog and animal? What is design? What is god? They are all subversive and even redefined the world outlook, moral values, values, and outlook on life. Some people say that he is break regular views, he said no! It is a destroy. Although there is no process of argumentation, he does not seem to care. He just said what he wanted to say, what he think about, and said it. Even in his conception, the truth, goodness and beauty are not the criterion. He said that goodness and beauty are the origins of misleading. Only truth is the criterion for judging everything. It’s not easy to do it, so it’s hard to have strength and temperature in truth.
Just like when he was in second year in the college, he passed his 20th birthday. He had a whim and wanted to find a special way to celebrate. He sip a group of classmates to go for a winter swim. A group of people went to Bayi Lake, and only Jiang Chuan accompanied him. Toke off military coat and put on swim trunks. It was a winter afternoon in December, the sun was good, and there was ice on the shore. Jiang Chuan jumped and the joints were stiff. In less than a minute, he quickly leaned to the shore, and the classmates pulled him up, laughed and said, look at Kaifang!
Wang Kaifang was still in the water. Five minutes later, he climbed to the shore and shouted: “Awesome!”
Yes, just 20 years later, on the day of Wang Kaifang’s 40th birthday, he also jumped into the ice water, and also shouted: “Awesome!”. But this time it was in the sea, this time it was in the Antarctic.