‘Natural Food Market’ Interior by Nanyang Design, Tianjin

At the end of last year, whilst researching and writing about the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong (AKA the Umbrella Revolution-Umbrella Movement) for the ‘Transnational Dialogues‘, I got to know two creatives – artist Ye Yun, and architect Nozomi Kanemitsu, specifically their project ‘Wishing Knots’ (2014) as part of Beijing Design Week 2014 (read my interview with them here). I’ve kept in touch with them ever since, as wordgirl standard. I’m hoping to see Nozomi in person this Autumn, and many other creatives I’ve only known via the digital communication realm, as part of a 25-day trip to Hong Kong, Taipei and Tainan in Taiwan, Shanghai and Beijing in China…including to Beijing Design Week 2015. Blog post to come on this!

Nozomi Habuku (it is the same Nozomi!) is one half of the design agency ‘Nanyang Design’ with Kenneth Chong based in Tianjin, China, where last week she emailed me with information on their most recent project ‘Natural Food Market’. In a local residents area of Tianjin, they worked with the shop owner who wants to start a small series of “Western” restaurant businesses. The site used to be a simulation golf centre. Renovation has since converted the space into a natural food market on the first floor and a restaurant and café on the second floor.

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‘The light fixtures and interior plantings are often inhabiting the space above our heads and on the side against walls, becoming objects that we do not interact with, much less engage with. For this project, we inserted them in between bar seatings and counters, tables and chairs, creating boundaries that are visually arresting yet permeable. One navigates light and nature as one moves through this food market-restaurant-cafe. Removing the previous interior wall and ceiling partitions to expose the existing structures, we revived their presence in the space. We then painted the structures and the spaces white, intending all interior surfaces to behave as a canvas to the lighting effects that we have introduced. In place of wall partitions, a number of steel-cable-suspended light fixtures and moss-ball plantings adequate for interiors have been used to compose seemingly invisible boundaries.’

A fusion of Western, Japanese and Chinese influences, the space is ecologically infiltrated, as Nanyang Design states, creating invisible boundaries with minimal, fresh and clean cut lines. No distraction, it will focus your gaze onto the space and produce allowing for a more pure  experience. When I was in Tianjin in 2010, I definitely didn’t come across a space like this…five years on, it the architectural and interior design scene may well have moved on leaps and bounds if this project is anything to go by.

Take a look at some of Nanyang Design’s other projects…particularly ‘No Walls’, a site where all interior walls were removed. ‘In place, they erected objects of daily use, cupboards, shelves, mirrored planes and a cantilevered table in the hope of nurturing a different understanding of rooms within a home.’ My kind of space.

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