© Dennis Lo
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"New retail" has been a hot term in recent years. It is a business concept and simultaneously, a new way of living. As the concept of "new retail" evolves, traditional recreational locations such as movie theaters are also destined to undergo transformations.
In 2019, OFT was invited to work on the storefront design of K11 Art House, the flagship concept theater in K11 Musea. In this experimental project, OFT has used "Design + New Retail" as the core concept and has created Asia's first alp life-themed cinema, setting an example for up and coming entertainment complex cinemas.
The Future of Cinemas
K11 is not only a phenomenal art mall in Asia but is also the world’s first cultural-retail destination. As a maestro of integrating urban lifestyle, traditions, history, and geography multi-dimensionally, K11 musea is world-renowned for “Revitalizing”, “Retransforming” and “Recreating” urban humanities, art, and culture.
How do we build a cinema that can create consumer resonance for a top-tier culture curator IP? OFT and UA believe that the key is to further develop K11’s brand DNA of art, culture, and retail. K11 musea's multicultural lifestyle model has also brought new insight into the creation of future cinemas – it’s time to take a leap out of the one-dimensional retail scene and introduce social interactions, dining, and art into cinemas.
First of all, K11 Art House has made a pioneering move of introducing the MOOV Pop-Up music store – a first in Hong Kong. MOOV is an online music streaming platform similar to Apple Music and Spotify, and this is the first time for the brand to launch a brick-and-mortar store as part of a premium cinema. Other than extending the audio and visual feast offered by the cinema, the store is also a manifestation of the exploration of online and offline possibilities.
The Tipsy Project is launched in the public area with a bar – the Sake Bar, allowing customers to wander between the dreamlike virtual realm and the real world before and after watching movies. The viewing area, on the other hand, is divided into the White Box and Black Box – screening rooms that serve different functions.
As a multimedia event area, White Box works excellently as a venue and is well-equipped for play and musical screenings. A new independent exhibition space was also opened up, where Asia’s first Festival de Cannes Film Week, introduced by K11 Musea, took place. A series of movie-themed or movie-related cultural events had been held here.
Unlike the White Box, Black Box delivers a greater degree of intimacy, as it is a screening room that offers personalized film-watching experiences. The emergence of “the third dimension” inside the theater helps to break away from the usual theatrical ambiance, meeting people’s needs to connect with one another. On some level, Black Box is redefining social interaction in cinemas.
Through meticulous planning, OFT and UA have identified five models of retail experiences and have therefore turned K11 Art House into a multi-dimensional retail locale.
Indeed, to become a true "entertainment complex" doesn’t only require an attractive narrative created by new business concepts. Designers are also required to cross boundaries between different business models, scenarios, and schools of aesthetics. The essence of commercial design is to drive behavioral changes among consumers and create novel experiences to optimize the value of commercial spaces. OFT has not only further developed K11’s DNA on a business level, but through blending urban cultures and natural lifestyles, OFT has also paid tribute to K11 musea’s vision of revitalizing, retransforming and recreating cultures.
The Evolution of Natural Living
Living as a Wanderer on the Alp
As one of the fastest-paced cities in the world, Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle also signify openness and diversity. Imbued with such spirit, K11 musea explores both local and foreign cultures simultaneously. Through assimilating and reshaping cultures, K11 musea strive to lead consumers away from the norm and into an unusually immersive experience.
OFT is well aware of what unfamiliarity can do to the chemistry within a space and that is why they have done the opposite in the design. By cherry-picking footages of the life on a Swiss alp, OFT hopes to incorporate traditional-style mountain architecture into a modern commercial space, reminding Hong Kongers of their desire for a natural lifestyle. K11 Art House is just like a vast box of inspirations, where avant-garde business models and traditional elements become each other’s reflections.
Be it style-wise, material-wise, structure-wise, color-wise, or lighting-wise, K11 Art House and K11 Musea share similar traits. The K11 IP can be inherited, as you can find both new technologies and traces of history here. As described by Woody Allen in the movie Midnight in Paris, we all long for the good old days, and we all desire to go back in time.
At the entrance, a candlestick chandelier composed of multiple round structures echoes with the “star lights” scattered around, while the classic arch designs remind us of the good old days. The modern-style lamps are bronze in color, bringing out the beauty of nostalgia without being confined by traditional aesthetics.
Wooden pillars commonly used in mountain architectures are used as a skeleton for the corridor that connects the lobby, hallway, bar, and theaters. A large amount of wood and stones with natural textures are adopted to bring out a sense of wear and tear through time. By using architectural elements repeatedly, OFT has put seemingly irrelevant materials together to form a space. Through this new form of visual balance, the design has cast new light on the relationship between humanity and nature.
The visual and audio feast of the movie world is extended by Hong Kong’s first brick-and-mortar MOOV pop-up store. The design has avoided excessive symbolism and has prioritized sales activities by putting more visual emphasis on the music products themselves. The ambition is to attract a wider audience to browse and make purchases.
The Tipsy Project is activated for the audience through the open-style Sake Bar and the design has brought the original function of the space to use. By utilizing different textures and structures, together with natural timber materials and concealed lights, a ceiling is formed to frame the functional space naturally.
Walk down the corridor and enter the viewing area. Inside Whitebox, a multi-purpose performing arts theater, an irregularly shaped ceiling formed by beige high-gloss lacquered boards resembles waves that beat against the beach or winter snow that builds upon the eaves, echoing with the theme of natural living. By creating a unique spatial relationship, the designers hope to dispel consumers’ prejudices against commercial spaces.
The Black Box displays an even higher degree of intimacy, as it bears the function of offering premium personalized experiences. The independent lounge area on the right alleviates the constraints of fixed seats, while the sofas, coatracks, and lavatories offer guests a more relaxing and enjoyable experience. As a result, the boundary between the public space and the private space is further dissolved.
Considering that lighting can help alleviate the ambiance of loneliness in physical space, the designers have used irregular copper wire lights to create a sense of enigma, hinting that some sort of equilibrium is being disrupted and restructured.
Through mixing and matching materials of different characteristics, designers aim to explore and challenge the boundaries between spaces. Large-sized mirrors are used in the lavatories to offset the bulkiness in the outside area, lightening up the overall tone and bringing out the theme of natural living through a multisensory journey.
K11 Art House explores the boundaries of commercial spaces and puts a multi-scenario retail solution into practice. CM Jao and Ken Cheung believe that “Design + New Retail” is bound to become an upcoming trend of commercial scenario application, and a widespread industry benchmark. As commerce and culture go through collision and rebirth, a new spatial order will arise.