Shifting Objectives: Design from the M+ Collection
30 November 2016 – 5 February, 2017

M+, the new museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, is pleased to announce Shifting Objectives: Design from the M+ Collection, the inaugural display of the museum’s groundbreaking design collection — the first of its kind in Asia. Shifting Objectives will run from 30 November 2016 to 5 February 2017. It will be the second show to be mounted at the new M+ Pavilion, a permanent space on the West Kowloon site that will host the museum’s exhibitions until the opening of the M+ building in late 2019.

Including more than 120 works spanning from 1937 until now that have been acquired, or are under consideration for acquisition, by the museum, Shifting Objectives provides a preview of the scope and breadth with which M+ is approaching design and the object, focusing on the latters’ changing roles and meanings in the 20th and 21st centuries, as seen from the museum’s vantage point in Asia.

With an exhibition design by the Hong Kong-based studio COLLECTIVE, Shifting Objectives comprises two primary sections:

Histories” draws out some of the ways in which M+ is telling, constructing, and revisiting the historical, narratives of design in Asia, within a global, transnational context. Spanning the second half of the 20th century, a series of five vignettes, or “rooms,” offer tightly-edited snapshots of how design helped shape, and was shaped by, the social, cultural, economic, and political milieus of, respectively, post-World War II Japan; post-independence India; China under Mao; and Hong Kong’s manufacturing and export heyday of the 1950s until the 1980s. The fifth “room” re-examines Postmodern design of the 1970s and 1980s, offering a new interpretation of that international phenomenon as seen primarily through the work of its Japanese practitioners. Highlights of the “Histories” section range from key designs by Yusaku Kamekura, Sori Yanagi, Charlotte Perriand, Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottsass, to Mao-era propaganda posters, iconic 1960s and 1970s plastics by the Hong Kong brand Red A, and an early example of the world’s first commercially successful electric rice cookers, produced by Toshiba beginning in 1955.

Constellations” takes a more open-ended approach to design, leaning towards the contemporary. Inviting audiences to form their own connections and interpretations, the approximately 40 works in this section, arranged in an open field, suggest the many ways of situating design and the object, whether through the reinvention of craft; assemblages of found objects; digitally-enabled design and fabrication processes; the reformulation of text, images, and interactions; the prism of power relations; or evolving notions of copying. Highlights range from important works by Japanese studio nendo, Hong Kong designer and artist Stanley Wong, Chinese designer Li Naihan, the Swedish group Front, and British designer Jasper Morrison, to the Sony AIBO (1999), and items recently acquired at Huaqiangbei, the electronics district of Shenzhen.

Shifting Objectives: Design from the M+ Collection is organised by Aric Chen, Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, with Jennifer Wong, Assistant Curator, Design and Architecture. The M+ collection of design and architecture currently includes more than 2,500 works out of a total collection of around 6,000.

“With Shifting Objectives, we are extremely pleased to mark another milestone in the development of M+ as we gear up towards the 2019 opening of the M+ building,” said Duncan Pescod, Chief Executive Officer of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. “To show this pioneering design collection for the first time is an exciting moment.”

“Design, along with architecture, visual art, and moving image, is a core part of M+’s visual culture remit,” said Doryun Chong, Acting Director and Chief Curator of M+. “In this sense, Shifting Objectives is a landmark exhibition for us and, we hope, a contribution to the growing design discourse in the region.”

“For the past four years, we have been building a design collection from scratch, and it’s a privilege to start showing some of it for the first time,” said Aric Chen, Lead Curator for Design and Architecture at M+. “We hope Shifting Objectives will give people a sense of some of the stakes we’ve been laying as we work towards bringing out the unexpected, while also re-examining the familiar, in design.”


COLLECTIVE is an idea-driven design consultancy practicing architecture, interiors, and urban design. Established in 2015 in Hong Kong by Betty Ng, with Juan Minguez, Katja Lam and Ying Zhou, the studio offers powerful concepts that insist on clarity, beauty, and function. In addition to architecture and interiors, COLLECTIVE operates in areas beyond the traditional boundaries of design, bringing together multidisciplinary practitioners from scenography, experiential art, visual identity, furniture, multi-media, and cultural analysis. 


Exhibition Period:
30 November 2016 – 5 February, 2017
11 am – 6 pm
Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays (except 25 December 2016, 1 January, 28 & 29 January 2017)

M+ Pavilion, WKCD


About M+

Hong Kong’s museum for visual culture – encompassing twentieth and twenty-first century art, design, and architecture, and moving image from Hong Kong, China, Asia, and beyond – M+ will be one of the largest museums of 20th and 21st century visual culture in the world. Located adjacent to the park on the waterfront, the museum building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is scheduled to open in 2019.

About West Kowloon Cultural District

Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces, and M+, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, as well as provide 23 hectares of public open space, including a two kilometre waterfront promenade.


Aric Chen

Aric Chen is Lead Curator for Design and Architecture at M+. Previously, he served as Creative Director of Beijing Design Week, helping to oversee the successful launch of that event in 2011 and 2012. Prior to moving to Beijing, Chen was an independent curator, critic, and journalist based in New York, organizing exhibitions and projects at the Design Museum Holon, Design Miami/Basel, the Saint-Etienne International Design Biennale, Center for Architecture (New York), and ExperimentaDesign Amsterdam. He is the author of Brazilian Modern (Monacelli, 2016), and has been a frequent contributor to publications including The New York Times, Metropolis, Architectural Record, and PIN-UP.

Chen received his BA in Architecture and BA in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley, and his MA in the History of Design from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.

Jennifer Wong

Jennifer Wong is Assistant Curator for Design and Architecture at M+. Prior to joining the museum, she served as Research Assistant/Assistant Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, having interned at the Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum (Chicago), and National Art Museum of China (Beijing). 

Wong holds a BA in Art History from Northwestern University and an MA in the History of Design, jointly offered by the Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum in London.