For this year edition of Art Basel 2017, Gallery ALL asked Chinese architect Ma Yansong — founder of MAD Architects — to create a new collection of furniture influenced by the red planet.
Titled ‘MAD martian’, the series is the result of a two-year research and design development process, which began with the question: what would the Chinese colonization of a Martian planet look like?
Presented at Art Basel 2017, the ‘MAD martian’ series expands on Ma Yansong’s ‘shanshui city’ design philosophy, which integrates elements of traditional Chinese landscape design and painting into large-scale urban architecture. The furniture collection continues this same methodology but conveys it through a sci-fi narrative. Evidence of the 1960s space race aesthetic is visible in the suspension lights, while the candelabras are partly informed by films such as alien and blade runner.
The project started with a conversation between Yu Wang, co-founder and director of Gallery ALL, and Ma Yansong about the theme of ‘MAD martian’, and what a furniture collection of Chinese interplanetary pioneers would look like. joined by consulting creative director Lou Weis, the team’s focus quickly turned to researching the history and current material language of science fiction movies, with specific reference to colonization of other planets.
The collection considers the idea of intergalactic explorers coming to terms with their new environment — the changes in the seasons, the different rise and fall of the sun, and the emergence of distinct flora and fauna.
In developing the series, Ma Yansong posited that, in the future, highly advanced materials will ‘catapult those lucky chosen ones into safe extra-terrestrial environments, beyond the apocalypse’. To convey this, the first seven pieces in the collection have been made using both old and new techniques — combining CNC, 3D printing, and advanced mold-making with artisanal skills, such as hand polishing across incredibly complex surfaces.