June 6th, 2013 – In it’s current state, modern Shanghai is booming with architecture, fashion, finance, and technology. As the largest populated city in the world, travelers flock to the metropolis to experience a city filled with lights, adventure, and a unique interpretation of western pop culture. Although there is much to celebrate about the city’s modern movement, it is undeniable that Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s, dubbed by the Chinese as the “Old Shanghai,” epitomized the most glamorous and most stylish of China in the last century.
The National Museum of Singapore recently exhibited the glamor of “Old Shanghai” in a exhibit titled ‘In The Mood For Cheongsam‘. Alluding to the title of the show, the design plays up the mysteries and subtleties of the Cheongsam, the traditional body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress for women. Evoked by the sensual quality of the Cheongsam, the exhibition, which was designed by Singapore based design studio FARM, takes the form of curvaceous walls like a large dress, sculpting pockets of spaces where each display conceals and reveals, teases and surprises.
The exhibition is one singular continuous space with curvaceous walls that entices visitors to move through the space. The creatives at FARM designed soft pockets of spaces throughout the exhibition, Sometimes convex, other times concave in nature; sometimes expansive, at times intimate. The exhibition is a spatial experience that continues to surprise at various sections within the singular idea.
Providing a context to the various sections is key to provide differentiation and a narrative to the exhibition. Circular plinths, employed throughout, alter in form to suggest these changes in narrative and context. Objects or simple furniture relevant to the era or theme of the section are also integrated together with the Cheongsam on display to create a mise-en-scene within the section.
The design of the Cheongsam still is influential in today’s fashions, as it has become the inspiration for recent collections such as Jason Wu’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection, Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection, and Emilio Pucci’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection, making the title of the exhibition ‘In The Mood For Cheongsam’ extremely relevant.