Adrian Cheng, Hong Kong founder of the K11 Art Foundation is a regular at Art Basel and biennales but his presence at Salone del Mobile is a first. And he has arrived in style. Pitching up in the glass greenhouse at Art Deco Mecca, Villa Necchi Campiglio, he is launching a five-piece collection of furniture by the late Japanese architect Shigeru Uchida. Cheng and the legendary architect, who passed away last November, co-designed the pieces, which are inspired by Japanese tea ceremonies.
Their collection, entitled 'Khora', consists of seats and tables attached to woven or gridded screens that cast patterned shadows. They are handmade by craftsmen using Japanese bamboo and chestnut, and incorporate traditional lacquering techniques and washi paper.
'AU3' chair, (detail), 2016-17
‘I see them as museum pieces, reserved for collectors and institutions,' says Cheng. ‘For the time being, they’re not for sale.’ After Milan they will travel to Tokyo, and then on to Hong Kong, before Cheng finds them all appropriate homes.
Cheng and Uchida met in Hong Kong, where Cheng owns swathes of real estate and is credited with bringing art to a younger audience by exhibiting it in his shopping malls. Over the course of his 50-year career, Uchida created buildings and interiors, hotels, and boutiques among them stores for Yohji Yamamoto, and the futuristic Kobe Fashion Museum.
‘It’s my first foray into furniture design and Uchida’s last, so "Khora" holds particular significance to me,’ says Cheng. ‘It’s such a great honour to have worked alongside the master Uchida-san. Architecture-wise, since founding K11, which is partly a museum-retail concept, I’ve had many opportunities to be involved in the design process of buildings and space. There will definitely be more furniture in the future.’