Exhibition Name: Coexist Exhibition
Curator: Chris Shao Studio
Guest Curator: Simon Wang
Team: Don Li, Ansha Jin
Location: Shanghai, China
Photo Credits: Guan Li
Exhibition Period: July 4th – September 12th
Courtesy of Chris Shao Studio
On July 3, Objective was established in Shanghai and presented its maiden exhibition “COEXIST”. The exhibition was staged in a dark green vintage Western-style house, gathering works by global artists. Filled with collaborations across territory and profession, the space takes you on a journey to appreciate objects with both beauty and functionality, and the essence of life.
Honoring the principle of merging beauty and functionality, each item from Objective articulates the ceaseless exploration by designers, artists and craftsmen: from design, material selection to production. Here, the beauty of life lies in collision, fusion, and mutual complement. Here, the infinite possibilities of life are tested one after another.
Rambling into an old house located deep along an alley, you can start your exploration at the Coexist exhibition. Starting from architecture and space, the Coexist exhibition presents a journey to discover beauty across time and space. This century-old house is a perfect combination of Shanghai and western styles. The staircases and facades painted in gray-green bring the exuberant green moss of Shanghai summer into the space. Set to a light green tonality, the exhibition continues a vibrant aesthetic exploration from outside in.
Right on the first floor, Han Bing’s work is the first exhibit welcoming the visitors. At the 2019 Art Basel in Hong Kong, Chris Shao, founder of Objective encountered Simon Wang, founder of Antenna Space, because of a work by Han Bing. Today, it is displayed as the opening exhibit, intended for a story about the collision and fusion of fine art and functional art.
On this floor, sofas, coffee tables, lamps, artworks – these seemingly simple living items embody the most plain and heartfelt narrative: Living with Art. You can see this showroom as a living room of the Coexist exhibition. The halved mohair sofas in turquoise with a slight Morandi gray, round and lively, and next to them are the lamps handmade by American artist Brecht Wright Gander and his team. The floating sofa comes from an original furniture design series of Objective, featuring a fabric series created by former creative director of Dior Raf Simons in collaboration with the Danish brand Kvadrat. From space to products, all intended to interpret the design and life philosophy of interior designer Chris Shao. The chic floor lamp from Gander is inspired by the marvelous memories of him collecting sea lily fossils in his childhood. More than a lighting fixture, due to its uniqueness, it is an artwork adding special vibes to the entire space.
In front of the sofas lies a marble coffee table in “cold emerald” green. Made by multiple layers of stone slabs, it is a breakthrough in design thinking, and helps diversify the user experience. The “floating chair” next to the sofas is supported by solid acrylic molds and covered with art print fabrics from Fabric Union – as of you were sitting on clouds. The cylindrical ornament placed besides the “floating chair” is a fusion of varied materials. The metallic luster and the transparent acrylic come to a visual balance, perfectly in harmony with the smooth curved cutting. It can be used as both a table and a stool – also an original from Objective. Two round stools made of oak and cloth are placed next to the fireplace in the living room. The grain-textured fabric comes in line with the small-sized stools, making them beautiful and practical at the same time. In front of another fireplace, the Fan Table by Shanghai-based young designer Bryce Cai is freely unfolded like a fan, adding a mysterious oriental touch to the room. Its bold combination between stone and wood as the countertop is impressive.
Outside the living room is a rectangular indoor terrace with excellent natural lighting. A clear arc-shaped marble sculpture table is displayed here. This piece by designer Lorenzo Bini allows users to sit around it in irregular positions, breaking the restrained dining atmosphere at traditional tables. On the terrace wall hangs a functional lighting artwork made of brass by Jesse Visser. It has drawn inspiration from a triptych, which is usually used to depict a grand religious scene. The special structure in combination of the polished brass and stainless steel full of contemporary vibes seamlessly fits its name in Latin “Cogitatio Inanis” (“thoughtless thought”). Referring to a kind of void, the object is turned to a reflection.
From architecture, interior, to furniture, fabric; from 3D to 2D, Coexist is a story about the ingenious integration of art, home furnishing, and space, inspiring thinking from more dimensions.
A quieter place is set up on the second floor: an antique desk from the 1950s designed by the famous Italian architect and designer Gianfranco Frattini, paired with one of the signatures of Paris brand R&Y Augousti – Eden Chair. Empty pens and bronze with black horse hair, exotic and mysterious. The objects on the stove were accidentally discovered by the Chris Shao while traveling in Morocco. They are three rare vessels made of camel bones, all hand crafted by local craftsmen. What’s in resonance with them is a natural bone-shaped candle in the fireplace, designed by Studio Morrison.
If the first floor is full of spirits as it is connected with the vast land, then the top floor, in direct contact with the sky, brings you unlimited imagination. Gothic colored window grilles, and rotatory stairs made of solid wood – from each and every angle, you see a different picture. While the sheepskin chandelier full of ancient charms suddenly pulls you into a land of fantasy. A showroom up to 4 meters high is created here, staging a solemn and mysterious religious scene.
Along the chic stairs, a tapestry named “Back Stage”, another work by Bryce Cai, is hanged there, voicing for the younger generation: Be yourself and show yourself. Walking upstairs to the top floor, you will first see the table and dining chairs by artist Arno Declecq. Arno’s design is natural and simple. With plain black oak, he has perfectly blended the distinctive and obscure tribal art in West Africa into his works – which in turn fit the surrounding furniture organically.
On the other side is the work by designer Robert Kuo. He is good at conferring organic forms in nature to his design. On the other hand, his skilled use of traditional craftsmanship, technology and materials leads to great achievements in his artistic creation. Though this screen, he innovatively uses a simple pear shape to convey his insights into life. Art comes from life, but goes beyond life. In front of the screen sits a stylish armchair. Designer Bryce Cai, while taking ergonomics into account, has created a trumpet-like chair where users can sit comfortably as if being swaddled. The sofa next to it is designed by Vladimir Kagan. Through a highly artistic integration of regular materials, he gets unshackled from the traditional way of sitting, and replaces it with a distinct and free use experience, making the sofa an antique with high collection value.
Every time the room dims, it will be coated with serene and mysterious glows of light. This floor lamp is also from created by artist Brecht Wright Gander. Inside the lamp covers a gold-plated copper finish, making the light itself rough and obscure. As for the exterior, he highlights the erosive beauty generated by that tension. Since every one of us, more or less, yearns for something marvelous, this lamp can perfectly fit your imagination.
Looking up, you can see two chandeliers inspired by pearl necklaces hanging from the beam. Created by French lighting designer Ludovic Clement d’Armont with environmentally friendly materials., these adorable and elegant ornaments add certain romance to the mystical showroom.
At the end of the exhibition, you will come upon a hidden showroom transformed from a bathroom. Leaping into the eyes is a swing chair by Bruno de Carvalho, a Brazilian architect. Originally intended to reproduce the Amazon rainforest in its primitive state, the exhibit injects a touch of fun and teasing to this old house in Shanghai. On the wall hangs a mirror from Dutch design studio STUDIO OS ∆ OOS. The intriguing sense of layers and color shades draw a delightful ending to the Coexist exhibition. All these dazzling and unique artistic designs render the ordinary objects in nature and life some new meanings. We pursue while standing still, explore while pursuing
The Coexist exhibition is a tribute to the coexistence of an old house and new art, as well as an art feast presented by Objective and Antenna Space. It demonstrates the way how life and art coexist, and how noise and idea take shape parallelly. This is also what Objective firmly believes: No matter what it is research and rigor, multiple tests and errors, it is our humanity that reveals, in the end, the presence of the object.
It is my objective to present an object in an objective way.”
“The beauty of life lies in collision and harmony. It is my objective to present an object in an objective way.”
In 2020, Objective was established in Shanghai by Chris Shao. Objective brings thinking back to the essence of life. With Tangible Object as the protagonist, the brand intends to tell stories about space, people and furniture. Together with the storytelling, home objects that blend fine art and functional art are created to diversify space and serve people. Objective has never ceased exploring sensuous aesthetics and seeking the emotional fit between people and space; meanwhile, it highlights the rational demand for furniture functions in different spaces and locations.
Back in 2016, Chris Shao opened his own design firm Chris Shao Studio in New York and began his design journey across the world. In 2018, he came to Shanghai and founded Shanghai Zhaohe Interior Design Co., Ltd., undertaking global projects for hotels, real estate, schools, restaurants, farms, etc. This year, going beyond his identity as an interior designer, he established Objective as a storyteller to think about life and present the beauty of design art.