Calm in the storm: Hugh Dutton designs Art Basel's Swire Properties Lounge
For the occasion of Art Basel, British architect Hugh Dutton created a rare oasis of calm in the middle of Hong Kong. The Swire Properties Lounge – located on the Level 1 Concourse opposite the Hall 1C entrance of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre – provided select visitors with a place to relax and have a drink or snack while perusing the seemingly endless aisles of galleries at Asia’s biggest art fair, which ended its five-day run on 26 March.
For the lounge, Dutton referenced the Climate Ribbon he designed for the almost-finished Brickell City Centre by Swire Properties in Miami, a city that has a very close connection to both Art Basel and the Hong Kong-based real estate developer. The floating ribbon took the shape of a figure eight, a symbol of infinity and continuity, winding around the front column where the circular bar area was situated, before completing the figure eight around the opposite column. In front of the bar was an area for visitors to take a break from the crowds and discuss the myriad works of art they had just viewed while enjoying the view of the harbour. The figure eight echoes, according to the press release, 'Swire Properties’ commitment to environmental sustainability'.
'The essence of this lounge design is about creating a canopy — a shelter over people to come and celebrate and enjoy Art Basel,' explained Dutton in a short film on the project. 'And to do that, we have this idea of creating a fluid ribbon that begins at one end, and then just wraps around a column and then engages with the people and the shelter and then comes back down again. So it’s a simple movement in light, picking up the light we have from the harbour, and celebrating architecture and design, science and art, here at Art Basel in Hong Kong.'
In partnership with UTA Fine Arts, the Swire Properties Lounge also hosted a number of talks during Art Basel touching upon topics like temporary architecture, art disruption in fashion and art in malls. Invited to participate as a panelist, Dutton engaged in conversation with artist Larry Bell, UTA Fine Arts head Josh Roth, Serpentine Gallery director Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator and art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, Paddle8 co-founder Alexander Gilkes, M+ curator Aric Chen and collector Robbie Antonio.