The typical Taiwanese home favours formal order and symmetry, believed in Chinese spatial traditions to bring balance and harmony. So when designers Shih-Jie Lin and Ting-Liang Chen of Ganna Design saw the creative potential of breaking the mould, they were at first unsure if Taiwanese clients would welcome their unconventional take. Luckily, Jay and Candy Kuan were impressed, and commissioned the young design duo to reconfigure their Taipei apartment. Inspired by Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theater’s production Cursive, with choreography inspired by Chinese calligraphy, Lin and Chen sought to achieve in space what the dancers brought in movement — to demonstrate the beauty of the Chinese character ‘永’.
The Chinese character 永 encompasses horizontal, vertical, leftward and rightward strokes, but also the break, hook, bend and slant techniques of calligraphy; it is said to be the true test of a calligrapher’s skill. In Cloud Gate’s dance, the character is embodied through a show of strength, vigour and dynamism balanced by grace, beauty and equilibrium.
Looking to translate these same qualities into a spatial composition, Ganna Design reconfigured the Kuan's originally two-hall, three-bedroom apartment. In its new inception, the residence embraces all of 永’s curves, angles and corners, including the final downstroke expressed in the form of a curved wall that sweeps at a diagonal across the living areas. The designers point out that in this layout, the need for a corridor is eliminated, allowing the floor area to be reclaimed as part of the main living spaces while adding to a sense of spaciousness.
‘This isn’t the first time we’ve introduced a diagonal wall in a space,’ explain the designers. ‘In this project, though, we’ve tested its potential further by letting it double as a storage wall and a room divider.’
The bespoke interior architecture also includes an unusual TV wall with integrated storage. Custom-made with different grill patterns, the TV feature wall is rendered in moody, dark tones that calm and recess, visually. This helps to reduce any sense of busyness and complexity in the space. A light-coloured timber veneer is applied to the curved wall, behind which more storage space is accommodated.
While the overall design is playful with a sense of experimentation, traces of culture and tradition can be found in the details — in the perfect geometry of a red circle on the bathroom wall or in the lattice patterns in the wardrobes and bookcases. The designers share that the lattice, whose pattern is developed from the guiding grids of calligraphy paper, is designed to serve as a unifying element that ties together the disparate styles and moods throughout.
KC Home is strong in concept and daring in its undertaking. Its spirit of adapting and reinterpreting tradition can be seen in the choice of furnishing, too. For example, Daniel Rybakken’s Counterbalance lamp, poised over the dining table, harks back to the dynamic equilibrium first explored in the 永-inspired layout. In Studio Job’s Paper Chandelier and in the Parentesi lamp designed by the masters Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzù, homage is paid to tradition, with a healthy dose of innovative experimentation
Text / Yvonne Xu