Well-heeled travellers know The Upper House hotel above Hong Kong’s Pacific Place mall for its warm hospitality, Andre Fu-designed interiors and panoramic harbour views.
Now the hotel’s artistic credentials are getting a boost from The House Collective’s first dedicated arts programme, Encounters Across Cultures: Seeds of Life. The concept is inspired by the five Chinese elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – and features multidisciplinary Swiss artist Katja Loher, who is based in New York and has exhibited in China and Japan. As is often the case, her artwork addresses sustainability concerns.
‘The elements are the base for many different factors of our culture and the environment that surrounds us – they are the seeds of life,’ says Loher, referencing the programme name. ‘The seeds are fragile and can only grow into plants of life if the cycles are generative and not destructive.’
Loher has created site-specific installations for each of The House Collective’s four properties, beginning with a series of ‘videoplanets’ that floated above the lobby of Beijing’s The Opposite House in March 2019.
The art programme is currently on view at The Upper House in Hong Kong through 21 June, with specialty cocktails based on each of the five elements served at Café Gray Deluxe. Next come Shanghai (The Middle House) in August and Chengdu (The Temple House) in October.
‘The architecture and particularities of every House inspired me to create a unique installation, and I have a wonderful opportunity to collaborate in each city with local artists,’ says Loher. The featured collaborators hail from different disciplines, including a contemporary artist in Beijing, a fashion designer in Shanghai and a traditional ink painter in Chengdu.
For The Upper House, Loher partnered with feng shui designer Thierry Chow, who chose parts of Hong Kong to represent each element in the video footage and advised how to install them in alignment with the natural yin-yang balance. The results are projections and objects featured across the hotel’s walls, ceilings and floors.
‘The installations can communicate with the guests as they pass by and infuse their everyday life with art and magic,’ says Loher. ‘I wanted to surprise passersby with kaleidoscopic multiplications of choreographed dance from a bird’s eye view that ask for collective action and beckon them to look at their actions from a different viewpoint.’