Sandtable 沙盆推演, Hong Kong Pavilion, London Design Biennale 2021

Bringing together three of the most exciting contemporary design studios in Hong Kong, aona, Trilingua and K2, the Pavilion is designed through a collaborative design and research process, engaging directly with archives, spaces, systems, and historical research material. 

Responding to the theme of Resonance of the London Design Biennale 2021, Sandtable 沙盆推演 is a portal to the interconnected histories of Hong Kong with global networks of things. Hong Kong has been central to these networks throughout its history, where objects and ideas have come from, passed through, been exchanged, or ended up in Hong Kong. With this in mind, the Pavilion acts as a generative space, for navigating complex design histories and collective speculation beyond the rhetorical narratives of Hong Kong’s future, and creating resonance with other participants of the Biennale.

The interactive experience

One-line description: Sandtable 沙盆推演 uses the basis of storytelling to reconstruct the resonance experienced from Hong Kong. Captured in sand, visitors’ strokes are projected in the installation, forming an archive of resonance on site and online.

Hong Kong is a nexus and a vessel for resonance between multiple cultures: if captured in words, it would be a co-authored, dynamic book of interactions, transcending time, and cultural differences. 

Visitors are invited to develop stories, dreams, and speculations on the histories and futures of Hong Kong as they encounter the urban legend of Ah Kwan Showing the Way, a fantasy concocted by early British colonialists. Combined with the materiality and notion of fortune-telling rituals, the audience plays a game of Chinese Whispers with this local legend as basis, each day regenerating the past and producing a ‘fortune’ for the future. 

Captured in sand, visitors’ strokes are recorded and projected over the duration of the exhibition to collate an archive of resonance on-site and online. The pavilion, therefore, presents an alternative archive, documenting the multiple, interwoven, non-linear histories of Hong Kong, and encouraging collective speculation beyond the rhetorical narratives of the city’s future.

For more information, please see:

About Us

The Hong Kong Design History Network (HKDHNet) is a research collective focused on design histories and material culture of Hong Kong. Founded by alumni of the V&A/RCA History of Design programme and the RCA/Design Trust Design Curation Fellowship, HKDHNet works across academic and public institutions to re-contextualise histories of Hong Kong through collaborative, cross-disciplinary projects centred on design and material culture. Members of the collective come from various fields within art, design, academia, and museums with a wide range of expertise in architecture, urban studies, fashion, and graphic design. HKDHNet is currently based in the UK and Hong Kong.

aona is a multinational architectural practice led by RIBA Chartered Architects Charles Lai and Ricky Suen. Working across environments, their practice features an emphasis on material culture in modern architecture within the region of East and Southeast Asia. 

Trilingua is a graphic design studio specialising in Chinese typography applied across diverse mediums. Led by designers Adonian Chan and Chris Tsui Sau Yi, Trilingua strives to redefine and investigate Hong Kong’s design and visual culture without losing sight of a global perspective.

K2 is an award-winning digital design lab, including digital branding, web/app design and development, and UI/UX consultancy. Co-founded by Theresa Dermawan and Amy Un, their work combines technology and design with a commitment and sensitivity to holistic and environmental sustainability.

Sandtable 沙盆推演 is supported by The Design Trust Feature Grant and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council Cultural Exchange Grant