Inspiration for design comes from breaking through the mundane tasks of daily life. Personally, I find much pleasure in performing arts. And there is one dance that continues to push me towards the intangible influences of design.
Recently, I saw Akram Kahn’s reinvented version of the classic ballet Giselle, starring the English National Ballet, at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. It reminded me of how much I loved my first encounter of his production of Kaash back in 2003.
Minimal yet powerful, the dance had no linear narrative, but ideas in Indian cosmology were explored through bodily movement. Kaash opened thunderously, depicting the beginning of the Indian infinite cycle of the universe. Lord Shiva, deity of destruction and creation, appeared still, stood with his back to the audience, quietly and gradually absorbing the energy from four dancers over the duration of the performance. The dancers moved in lines and patterns around him as ripples of lights curled around their bodies. Towards the end, Lord Shiva moved with them at extraordinary speed, and then the dance closed with complete silence and darkness.
Kaash’s impressive set was created by artist Anish Kapoor, who made a large black rectangle backdrop representing a black hole that loomed like a massive void. It changed in colour from peach to tangerine to crimson and spread across the stage floor; its effect was so overwhelming and mesmerising. I can still remember the scene so vividly.
Dance and architecture, as a pair, have been much discussed. Movement, space and time are the essential elements shared among spatial design and dance. Dance takes away the functional requirement in architecture and is a direct representation of visual and kinetic sensibilities, simply for pure enjoyment. To me, design theory is secondary. It is the memory of the powerful sensations that Kaash evoked in me that urges me to see past the ordinary to seek the extraordinary – and to apply that inspiration throughout my designs.
By Ada Leung