© Yiyun Kang    since 2008

MAKING the CUPOLA and WUNDERKAMMER 

Exhibition view of COATS! SEOUL 
Exhibition design by Migliore+Serveto Architects at DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza)
Photo by Jae Young Park

DESIGNING the SPACE 

Milan based Migliore+Servetto Architects designed a unique space for the Max Mara Coats! Seoul exhibition at the centre of Art Hall 1 in Zaha Hadid's DDP. As seen in the diagram below, a cupola that was 20 metres in diameter was set in the middle, supported by seven irregular shaped rooms, called Wunderkammer, that represented the seven decades of Max Mara’s history and heritage. 
I was commissioned to express my interpretation of the exhibition's theme to highlight Max Mara's heritage with my digital-spatial projection onto the huge fulldome ceiling. This gigantic fulldome projection, situated in the centre of the exhibition space, enveloped the audience, offering a piazza that connected the heritage of the brand and contemporary viewers with a digital perspective.

Exhibition diagram of COATS! SEOUL designed by Migliore+Serveto Architects 
Courtesy of Migliore+Servetto Architects 

My project started with my visit to Reggio Emilia, where Max Mara's HQ, factory, archive and Maramotti Collezione reside. I was mesmerized by their efforts to maintain the heritage and quality of the brand. For them, it is not about the objects, but about human history: the Maramotti family, who founded the brand; Reggio Emilia; about men and women's fashion in the past, present and future. It is alive and breathing. 

Inspirations from Reggio Emilia

Building the Concept 


Depth and surface are contradictory notions. However, after my in-depth investigation of Max Mara's coats, I found that they could coexist in this type of garment. I remember vividly being in the factory and watching the exceptional process of making a coat from start to finish. T his experience led to the development of the overarching concept of my fulldome projection piece, entitled “Deep Surface.” The starting point for the exhibition, the concept of the perfect coat, which ‘combines the idea of surfaces, from the way the fabric folds, to the way it meets the skin, and sits on the body.’ The dome itself also reflects the sensation of being wrapped in a coat. ‘It’s an environment that really immerses the human body.’ ( quote from the interview with Wallpaper* Magazine, UK 
At the same time, dome space was both a surface for my projection and an environment with depth, as the striking dome towered 13 metres high over a large piazza. The dome space enveloped and completely immersed the visitors as coats wrap the human body. Eventually, I found the notions of coat and dome overlapped, a concept that offered me an inspirational background with which to begin. 

Concept map for Deep Surface © Yiyun Kang

Inspirations for Deep Surface

Through this large-scale fulldome projection piece, I attempted to investigate how "Deep Surface" is not an oxymoron. However, every step was quite challenging because in a dome structure, everything needed to be spherised: the moving image, narrative, viewing engagement, etc. Also, there was no absolute directional view, such as up and down, or east and west. The way the viewer engaged with the moving image was completely different from the conventional proscenium viewing relationship as the fulldome structure surrounded the viewer instead. 
The exhibition was also unique in that it invited viewers to navigate the space at will. There was neither a single entrance/exit, nor directional linear pathway. Visitors could use seven different entrance/exit spaces. Thus, they could see the seven Wunderkammer rooms in chronological order, or they could design their own itinerary. Therefore, the cupola space played a central role by providing a piazza that connected the seven rooms as part of the visitor’s itinerary. 

Navigational pathway of Deep Surface © Yiyun Kang

Concept images for Deep Surface © Yiyun Kang