The Financial Times interviews Asian retail scion and art entrepreneur, Adrian Cheng, about his new Franco-Sino program to identify emerging artists in Europe and Asia. The FT focuses on Cheng’s use of art in Chinese malls which they chalk up to China’s lack of an art infrastructure even though there’s a steady trend in luxury retailing toward using art to enliven high-end stores:
Cheng is clearly proud of bringing art to the “masses” – a common refrain of his – and the K11 art malls in Hong Kong and Shanghai, owned by New World, typify his “museum-retail” concept. Works by Yoshitomo Nara, Olafur Eliasson and Damien Hirst, part of the “K11 Kollection”, are dotted around the store aisles, though none is for sale. He insists that he keeps his own collection – which includes pieces by Tatiana Trouvé, Adrián Villar Rojas, Zhang Enli and Zhang Ding – separate from K11’s.
Purists may recoil but Cheng argues that the museum-retail model is successful. “There is no audience development in China. Finding locations and sites for exhibitions is a problem. There is also no sustainable financial model to support shows. So where do people like going? Out shopping in malls . . . People want to buy and invest in heritage so I created this new retail and culture experience.” The profits from the commercial side of the malls are ploughed back into the K11 Foundation.
To see more about the use of art in luxury fashion retailing, see this Architectural Digest profile of Peter Marino, the architect, who commissions art from Damien Hirst, Jon Armleder, Robert Mapplethorpe and others for retail clients like “more than 30 stores for Chanel, 20 for Louis Vuitton, 15 for Dior. At least half of these projects are in China.”
Arts interview: Adrian Cheng (FT.com)
Architect Peter Marino’s Edgy Style (Architectural Digest)