Image courtesy of Studio LL
Once again, the Caochangdi Artist's Village is hosting several BJDW ongoings, and the Red Bricks cluster of studio/gallery spaces is home to several installations, events and initiatives in conjunction with the weeklong festival. Naihan Li, best known for her CRATES series from 2011, led us on an informal tour of her neighborhood—indeed, the ever-charismatic architect/designer-turned-curator/producer has duly assumed the role of village ambassador since she established her studio there several years ago. For Beijing Design Week, she offered her sizable live/work space for a handful of local and international exhibitors. In addition to work by Dutch photographers, a German fashion designer and techno-fabric designer Elaine Ng (more on her later) on the first floor, Li's home is also the venue for furniture and photos by the newly-formed Studio LL. Co-founder Fai Lau explained that the "Du Pin"—literally "unique products," but also a homonym for "drugs"—are an extension of his work as a vintage furniture purveyor and interior designer. The simple concept allows for unpretentious execution of reclaimed and repurposed pieces.
Similarly, the "Drum Stools" also serve as a riff on the language of traditional Chinese furniture, a mash-up of iconic rock-n-roll graphics, immortalized here in marble inlay, and an article of furniture that can be found in nearly any Chinese home. The stools certainly represent an interesting use of materials and form, but I found them a bit less compelling than the reimagined "Du Pin" collection, precisely because they overtly speak to the cultural disposition for branding and logos.
Lau's collaborator Tony Law told me that the upstairs 'gallery' is, in fact, Li's bedroom; as the story goes, Jingjing—Li's nickname—and Law have been friends for nearly a decade now, since they first met at Ai Weiwei's studio. The outspoken artist, for his part, is widely considered to be the godfather of Caochangdi, and both Li and Law started working for him on the exact same day nine years ago, following stints abroad for school. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Law, a photographer by trade, is currently dating a good friend of mine; sprawling though Beijing may be, the art and design scene remains a close-knit community.