Zodiac sculptures 2022 from Design Trust Futures Studio

The results of the Design Trust Futures Studio’s 2022 program, “Heritage is Creative Generation”, can now be seen at the brand new Palace Museum. Marisa Yiu, co-founder of the association, explains to Joey Wong why respecting heritage is of crucial importance

The word “heritage” has heavy implications.

“Heritage” implies something precious, something worn over time, something that someone else has created, however long it has been, and which should, in some degree of meaning, inform part of life as it exists today. “Heritage” implies community responsibility; of you and me, as modern individuals, acting as guardians of something older than us – the same thing that will undoubtedly outlive us. “Heritage” therefore implies the existence of a radical hope; recognition of the existence of a future worth remembering, worth saving.

“Heritage”, for the Design Trust and, incidentally to the charity subsidized by the Hong Kong Design Ambassadors, the Design Trust Futures Studio program, is all that. In 2019, Heritage is Innovation served as the theme for the design cohort of the year. This year, Heritage is Creative Generation took over.

Marisa Yiu in front of the 2022 sculptures by Design Trust Futures Studio

“I chose Heritage is Creative Generation as my new theme for 2022,” says Marisa Yiu, co-founder and executive director of Design Trust, “inspired by the ideas of the creative generation as both heir and innovation.

“There is no greater power for change than a community that discovers and understands that heritage is an innovation and how it can be creatively passed on to future generations,” continues Yiu. “Analyzing and researching the legacy of our rich heritage is our entry point in collectively shaping the future of our city.”

There’s a lot at stake for this year’s entrants – 12 designers and collectives with day jobs that include architecture, graphic design and art – as the first-ever cohort of final pieces exhibited at the Hong Kong Palace Museum , which opened last month. “The Palace Museum aspires to become an incubator for young, emerging artists, as well as designers from different backgrounds and generations, helping them to collaborate and push the limits of their creativity,” says Dr. Louis Ng, director of the museum.

And the brief? Create a piece of art inspired by a Chinese zodiac animal; an exercise pioneered by Hong Kong-based Project Twelve, which uses the current Zodiac year’s mascot as its theme. However, Design Trust Futures Studio’s recreation of the project uses all 12 animals, one for each design collective, with an additional request: to also include references to an earlier zodiac-inspired creation already created in the Project Twelve archives. (It is here, of course, that legacy and innovation find their way into the record, alongside mentor-mentee assignments throughout the program that aspire to even more dialogue between old masters and young designers.)

Expanding the influence of Project Twelve, Yiu said, “We see the continuation of Project Twelve [where an outstanding Asian artist, architect or designer is invited each year to create a masterpiece sculpture using the zodiac sign of the respective year as theme] as a vital and constructive element in intercultural collaborations for the future construction of the heritage. We hope to continue his philosophy and the creation of new zodiac design objects to cultivate contemporary approaches to making as an intellectual endeavor that also draws inspiration from the past.

Jacqueline Chak from Editecturea Prestige 40 Under 40 Winner 2021, was one of the chosen mentees for this year’s Design Trust Futures Studio program, her zodiac mission being the horse and her inspiration tied to a practice popularized a long, long time ago : from the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE).

Sancai (literally, tricolor) is a form of earthenware with, as the name suggests, usually a triptych of colored glaze, most classically of blues, greens, ambers and yellows, which stains through a milky white ceramic base. Rather than using new materials for his piece, Chak’s contribution to the Heritage is Creative Generation program, dubbed Eco-Tang Sancai Warrior, instead opted for recycled glass and plastics collected from his community. Sancai wares throughout history have been used primarily by the nobility in everything from decor, ceremonial objects and, perhaps most notably, as funerary adjuncts. (According to Sotheby’s, some of the most valuable sancai specimens were unearthed from the tombs of Princess Yongtai and Prince Yide in Qianxian County.)

Chak’s decision to use entirely utilitarian materials for his Eco-Tang Sancai Warrior, grounded further by the used and found nature of his plastics and glass, goes against the usual seriousness of Tang sancai ceramics, but it is maybe the point. Respect for heritage, after all, is not the insistence on a cut-and-paste replica of history, revamped. Respect for heritage, on the contrary, contextualizes centuries-old techniques in the reflection of modernity like, say, sancai ceramics through a sustainable lens or, say, using 3D printing techniques instead of hand carving. , such as Bob Pang’s House of Rats; or even experimenting with new materials like camphor blocks while using traditional woodworking techniques, as Su Chang did for his Double Rabbits Soy Sauce Chopstick Holder.

New ways to explore, create, learn and create are critically important.

Marisa Yu

The 12 pieces of Design Trust Futures Studios 2022 flagship program are now on display at the Scholars Commons at the Hong Kong Palace Museum, for your perusal and, if this inspires you, your creative generation as well.

“We have a sense of cultural and civic responsibility to engage directly [with the preservation of heritage], otherwise our cultural richness will be obsolete”, implores the co-founder of the Design Trust. “So new ways to explore, create, learn and make are critically important.”

In fact, our future depends on it.


Get tickets for a visit to the Hong Kong Palace Museum here