Nurturing Art

Art in malls isn't a newfangled concept. But when a mall has a dedicated arts programme, you can be sure something exciting is brewing.

Issue: Aug 2009

Art and shopping come together at ION Orchard, which opened in late July.
It calls itself a magnet to over 200,000 shoppers a day; a landmark retail mall that brings shopping and art together for an eclectic union. ION Orchard, which opened in late July, aspires to live and breathe art through its structured art and design programme, ION Art.

"ION Orchard aims to be different from other malls," says Soon Su Lin, CEO of Orchard Turn Developments, the development management company for the mall. "We want to offer a premium shopping experience within a highly creative and stimulating environment, adding on to the multi-sensory experience that is the creed of ION Orchard."

Art for All

Spanning some 5,600 sq ft, the ION Art Gallery on the fourth floor of ION Orchard will showcase works of emerging artists and designers.
Renowned curator Lindy Poh, together with Tan Cher Suen, creative director of creative agency Multimedia People, was hired to prepare the ground for ION Art. The pair worked closely with the architects and developers to ensure that the mall was built suitably to incorporate art. They are now freelance consultants to the ION Art programme.

"Art in a mall has to be very accessible," says Tan, who specialises in multimedia design. "We're talking about bringing art to the public, so whatever we bring to ION Orchard has got to be meaningful to the shoppers. They can expect to see something new which will inspire, surprise, or intrigue."

Besides permanent sculptural and media art installations, ION Art will present a calendar of art-based events and exhibitions throughout the year. This includes exhibitions on the contemporary works of established and emerging artists and designers at the ION Art gallery, a 5,600 sq ft art gallery on the fourth floor. While there is a dedicated gallery space for art-based events and exhibitions, the entire mall will also serve as an arts space. So expect to see temporary and permanent installations scattered throughout ION Orchard.

Look Out For

Signature ION Graphics

Singaporean artist Kumari Nahappan's larger-than-life nutmeg sculpture harks back to the days when Orchard Road was a nutmeg plantation
Artist photo courtesy of Sabine Kreuzer

Candy-coloured sculptures by Swiss artist Kurt Metzler give an eye-catching welcome to shoppers
Singaporean artist/designer Heman Chong with Crashtest Theory was tasked to create a series of graphics that would bear the distinctive stamp of ION Orchard.

Based on the theme of nature, a random selection of 50 brightly coloured animations will be cast on the mall's impressive media facade daily, beginning 1 August on the hour, from 8 pm to 11 pm.

In A Nutshell
It's for posers: 'Nutmeg & Mace', the giant nutmeg signature sculpture marking the corner of Paterson and Orchard roads is a must-see pit stop. Singapore artist Kumari Nahappan was commissioned to create this whimsical piece, which harks back to the days when Orchard Road was a nutmeg plantation.

Urban People
You won't miss the brightly-coloured human figurines on the steps of the ION Orchard. Named "Urban People", these larger-than-life aluminium figurines were created by Swiss sculptor Kurt Laurenz Metzler for a theatrical effect. Commissioned by ION Orchard and created in collaboration with Galerie Belvedere, this sculpture is his first public art installation in Singapore and in Asia.

"I believe art should be accessible to the public and that sculptures shouldn't be stored in a museum - they should spill onto streets," said Metzler, who was in Singapore recently for the launch of his art work at ION Orchard.

The sculptor says his inspiration was "everyday people, people going about their daily business" and he hopes that they would stimulate and engage passersby to reflect on themselves.

Digital Waterfall
London art and design firm Troika made waves in 2008 with its digital sculpture Cloud. Suspended above ground at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, the sculpture is covered with thousands of "flip-dots" controlled by computer to create abstract patterns.

Troika has employed the same technique to create a digital waterfall for ION Orchard. Come down for a closer look at how the "flip-dots" work magic to create animated cascades from mid-October.

Sino Signs
Eight creative heads from China discuss the idea of responsible living in an urban city, using digital art. Expect head-turning motion graphics cast upon the mall's media facade.

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