THE FOUNDERS

Illustrations by Stefano Avesani

Beatrice Leanza

Creative Director & 

Urban Drifter

A cultural strategist, curator and critic based in Beijing since 2002, Beatrice earned an MA in Asian studies from Ca’Foscari University (Venice) specializing in the history of Asian art. She is the former creative director of Beijing Design Week – China’s largest and internationally best reputed design and architecture event (2012-2016). In 2015 and 2016 she acted as founding director of Baitasi Remade, the urban regeneration plan for Baitasi historic district in Beijing, shaping stakeholders’ relations across the governmental, private and public sectors.

Having started her career as a curator at CAAW (China Art Archives and Warehouse), the historical alternative art space founded by artist Ai Weiwei in the late 1990s, she later founded the research practice BAO Atelier, a unique China-based think-tank fostering encounters across the visual arts, design and architecture, active across Europe and Asia. 

She is chief curator of the international research program Across Chinese Cities, presented in 2014, 2016 and 2018 at the Venice Architecture Biennale. In 2016 she published the book ‘Ideas in Action – Critical Design Practice in China’.

Her writings and projects have appeared in numerous publications such as Artforum, Abitare, CNN Style, Domus, Dezeen, Disegno magazine, Frieze, Frame, Flash Art Intl’, Blueprint Magazine, Metropolis, T Magazine (The NYTimes), IDEAT, Liberation/NEXT, The Good Life, Il Sole 24 ore, Il Corriere della Sera, among many others including specialized Chinese press. She is a member of the international advisory board of Design Trust (Hong Kong).

You can see more of her projects here.

Sarah Orlando

Chief Administrator of Operation and Strategy (CAOS)

For the past 6 years Sarah served as general manager for Rizzoli Beijing, a subsidiary of RCS Media Group SpA operating in Mainland China, with activities mainly devoted to publications in the field of design, architecture, fashion & lifestyle. 

Before joining RCS, and having already moved to China, she was director of business development and a partner of China Files, a press agency and communication company based in Beijing, with correspondents from countries across Asia. She led the company through its start-up phase, by fine-tuning its business model and implementing the clients’ base.

 

Prior to that, her work included strategic planning and organization management for a participatory holding operating in Italy within the tourism, communication and fashion Industries, where she was involved in the international expansion of the participating companies and M&A activities.

Sarah graduated from Bocconi University (Milan) with a degree in Economics applied to Arts and Media industries, and attended classes within the MBA/Arts&Media Program at Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto.

She is a European Marshall Memorial Fellow (Fall 2014), and was selected as a Young Leader in 2015 by the Council for the United States and Italy.

The Team

Keep an eye on this page, as our team and collaborators keep growing!

Zhao Liqun

 

Spatial Practice/

Data Urbanism

Liqun is a Beijinger, an architect and an urban researcher.  Since 2006 he was a member of Underline Office which founded and produced Urban China magazine, the leading publication of academic insight surveying the massive transformation of cities in the PRC. While studying for his masters at the Design and Research Lab (DRL) of the Architectural Association (London) he invented an emergent onsite building system by using 3D robotic printing technology and recyclable bio-materials.

His work focuses on Big Data driven design and research. Since returning to China he has divided his time between practicing architecture and spearheading educational initiatives, as co-director of the AA Visiting School in Beijing (2013-2015) and the program IaaC (Barcelona) GSS Beijing (2016-2017), setting up long term academic and investigative frameworks around the use of advanced technology and coding simulation methodologies for urban regeneration.

He has taught at Southeast University, CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts), and runs FIELD his own cross disciplinary office in Beijing.

Benjamin Beller

 

Spatial Practice/

social space & experimentals

Ben is a French architect who was educated in Strasbourg, London’s Architectural Association and La Villette in Paris before moving to China in 2007 and founding BaO Architects in 2010.

His decade long commitment to the Chinese context emerges from a fundamental desire to embrace the current globalization momentum and celebrate cultural heterogeneity as an opportunity for cross-fertilization.

The open agenda of such an approach is to investigate, negotiate with, and hopefully transgress the consensuses under which the current architectural production operates. Through writings, speculative projects, installations, architectural and urban planning, his practice advocates a bold yet playful architecture. Projects such as the ADhouse, MegaCun, Opera On The Move, Shanmen Bathhouse, Blue.Tmp, or the BaitaCinema illustrate BaO's belief in an architecture than is both socially committed and decidedly provocative.  Working in both urban and rural contexts, Ben's design approach incorporates programs, narratives, tactics and strategies. as a way to advocate a critical repositioning and expansion of the role of the architect in the current dynamics of the city.

Nicola Saladino

 

Spatial Practice/

multiscalarity

Nico is one of the founding partners of Beijing-based reMIX studio. He lived and studied in Barcelona (Architecture at the Polytechnic University) and London (Architectural Association) before relocating to Beijing. He has been involved in educational and research projects at the AA, MIT, Veritas (Costa Rica), Hong Kong University, CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts) and Tsinghua University, where he was involved in the Landscape Urbanism program.

Nico’s research focuses on the integration of architecture and landscape into new models of synthetic urban hybrids.

The understanding of the territory and its constitutive and constantly evolving metabolic networks and systems of power relations is the terrain onto which the redefinition and revision of presupposed dichotomies such as natural / artificial and local / global can depart, where the envisioning and construction of future social assemblages can take off. In this framework, the application of parametric tools allows to operate with a vast amount of information in a very agile and effective way. The integration of multiple layers of information into one complex system leads to a design output that can tackle at the same time environmental, infrastructural, social and economic factors.

SANS / Xu Yijing & Neill Gaddes

 

Impact Lab/

Community Building & Place-Making

Yijing and Neill founded SANS in 2010.  A pair of thinkers and practitioners trained in industrial design and architecture, their work is versed in designing processes that from ideation to implementation ensure the sustained relevance of place through the positive interdependence of political, economic, and social forces. Understanding this plurality of place and a diverse international experience between Beijing and Berlin, Auckland and Istanbul, future urban Shenzhen or traditional rural Anhui, is what informs their unique approach in addressing local needs. Rather than simplifying conditions to a question of commercial or touristic renewal, the practice attempts to impact social, cultural, commercial and environmental conditions simultaneously, to suggest and empower, rather than dictate, a community.

This methodology had been utilised in the revitalisation of the historic district of Dashilar, Beijing; transforming a depopulating urban slum into an emergent historic/cultural precinct without the need for forced relocation of the existing community nor the wholesale destruction of its architectural heritage. Their clients range from SOE’s involved in property development and cultural development to media organisations, curators, and architects. Both Yijing and Neill have had their work published locally and globally, including interviews for The Guardian and the New York Times.

Dotdtodot&Open Dot

 

Datadatadata/

IoT & Data Scapes

Dotdotdot is a multidisciplinary design studio founded in Milan in 2004. Its projects are developed by a diverse team of architects, designers, philosophers and programmers which merge art, architecture and exhibition design, infusing them with digital technologies and new media, reaching out towards a world at the border between performance, exploration and event. This hybrid practice gives life to unique experiences, ranging from exhibitions to the development of integrated systems for smart building.

In 2014 they founded OpenDot, a Fab Lab, a research and open innovation hub stemmed from the need to create an open space dedicated to rapid prototyping and technological experimentation. Collaborators and clients range from the MIT Fabacademy to leading architecture studios like Stefano Boeri Architetti and Carlo Ratti Associati, companies like COOP, Samsung, Inter football club, Conde Neste, Ferrari and institutions like Milan Triennale, Manifesta and the Lombardy Region. They have developed bespoke educational programs for Domus Academy, NABA, Milan Polytechnic, Montessori Institute and TOG Foundation among others.

atlas studio

 

craftworks &

narrative spaces

ATLAS is a multi-disciplinary design studio based in Beijing made of a trio of designers from the US and Taiwan - Ahti Westphal, Jenny Chou, and Catherine McMahon who met while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Their shared interest in culture, history, and place leads them to mine various contexts for unexpected stories, details, or overlooked materials and techniques. The result is an ongoing exploration that at various points in time takes on the form of spaces, products, installations, exhibitions, lectures, teaching and workshops. In addition to an investigation of place, they take a process-based approach to design that aims to capture the marks of time and technique as well as the experimental potentials of materials. Each project the studio takes on is an opportunity to articulate a contemporary narrative that bridges between cultures and contexts.

eva de laat

 

material lab /

textile engineering

Over the last 10 years Eva has worked with a wide range of Chinese, European and American Apparel & Sports companies world-wide and her Studio Eva x Carola is at the forefront of innovation in performance textiles. Her studio expertise is in seamless and circular knitting techniques.

They also explore alternative fabric production methods bringing a new dimension to materials and performance wear. They research and develop creative and functional knit structures for future textiles. Through working with innovative makers they introduce new materials with a focus on sustainability and well-being.

Céline Lamée

 

visual scapes

Céline is a Dutch graphic designer. She loves bold forms and visual solutions of humour and wit. She studied at ArtEZ in Arnhem and has lead a variety of educational activities and workshops in the Netherlands, UK and China. After six years at the renown Dutch design company Lava, she decided to leave the Amsterdam headquarters and try her Chinese luck, by co-founding the company's Beijing office. Her hands-on design approach came in handy especially for Lava's early Chinese projects such as the Mobile Design Agency, an impromptu action-based office delivering on site service for clients based in lesser-known urban areas. It has been exhibited in a variety of exhibitions including the Venice Architecture Biennale (2014). Lava Beijing works on cultural projects trying to connect eastern and western visual culture in a both provocative and intuitive way. Clients include Beijing Design Week, French, Swiss, Australian and Dutch Embassies, Taikooli (Swire Group), the Moscow Design Museum and a variety of other Chinese companies, festivals and architecture studios.

COLLABORATORS

Instant Hutong/

Stefano Avesani

& Marcella Campa

tangible lab/

tactical urbanism

Stefano Avesani and Marcella Campa founded Studio Ramoprimo in 2008. An architecture and design practice, its name refers to Venetian hidden alleys and its Chinese correspondent (TouTiao), which indicates the first lane of hutongs in old Beijing - It marks the beginning of a newly born urban process. Their design projects range from architecture to interior design and graphics. Main focus of the studio is the interaction between the social and the build environment, investigating solutions responding to ever transforming needs in urban living.

In parallel with the design practice the studio has developed the ongoing research project Instant Hutong, an explorative umbrella that looks at contemporary process of rapid urbanization in China, the relations between social and physical aspects of everyday habitats and ways for people to reinterpret the urban landscape. As a celebration of the micro interactions that define the city scape, the project engages questions around density, unstructured reappropriation, gentrification, property speculation, disappearing communities and processes of subjectivation in the urban realm.

People's architecture office

spatial practice/

urban upgrading

A multiple-award-winning studio founded in 2010 and based in Beijing, PAO believes innovation solution in architecture must offer a sense of well-being to people who interact with it: comfort and community cohesion for people who use it. With an international team of architects, engineers and urbanists, PAO approaches design from the framework of the realities of scale, global economics and flows, mass production, mass markets and social networks.

Their Plug-In Houses have received numerous recongitions and are being implemented across China including the architects’ own studio, those commissioned by residents in Dashilar, in urban villages in Shenzhen, and in rural Guangzhou.

The three founding partners are He Zhe, James Shen, Zang Feng.

 zhang shoupin/

max office

 

visual scapes/

information systems

After working for 2x4 in OMA Beijing Office, Shoupin founded Max Office leading a multidisciplinary team for design and research programmes. He works at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts as a design critic and is involved in Ph.D research projects.

 

Max Office is a research and communication design studio, developing design thinking across a variety of multi-disciplinary/ systemic programs. The studio tries to reconsider and expand the realm of design through advanced practice, responding in the meanwhile, to a historical/ contemporary social agenda. Clients and projects range from architecture studios, cultural events and organizations, as well as programs developed for corporate as well as independent collaborators.

common design studio

 

caopu

spatial practice/

social interactions

An architecture and product design practice based in New York City, it was founded by the award-winning architect and rock-band member Cao Pu and Cui Ruoxi, an interior designer interested in experimental fabrication and the emotional dimension of space. Common explores everyday living environs and how small scale architectural and spatial solution-making can benefit urban dwellers. They prefer to call their effort ‘patchwork for city pixels’.

Cao Pu’s works can be viewed here.

more to come!

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© 2019 by B/Side Design - Beijing, China

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