By Ma Yansong
MAD Martian Suspension Lights | MAD Martian Collection, 2017
Polyurethane, Stainless Steel
Size varies, 3 different sizes: large, medium and small. Sold as sets or individual pieces.
Price Available Upon Request
MAD have reinvigorated this favourite of mid 20th C design, the floor-ceiling suspension light. The drooping ridged surface of the PU and Bronze shade conveys an alien Chrysalis, protecting a creature in a state of metamorphosis.
The MAD Martian collection began with a question: What would the Chinese colonization of a Martian planet look like? This naturally led to more questions such as at what point does survival stop and architecture begin? Once survival is assured, what memory of Earth or love for their new home would these interplanetary colonizers recreate first? The MAD Martian collection is the result of Ma Yansong’s meditation on these issues.
Ma is famed for his design philosophy of ‘Shanshui City’, which integrates elements of traditional Chinese landscape design and painting into large-scale urban architecture. The resulting forms are closely tied to elements of the natural environment, conveying both elegant and gnarly lines. With this collection, M continues to employ the Shanshui City design philosophy – putting the contours of the natural environment front and center of the design language – but transplanting it into a science fiction narrative.
“I have never been to the Mars…what will we discover when we get there; red landscape, quiet horizon, frozen glaciers？ Probably all is as beautiful, in its own way, as the Earth was thousands of years ago. I want to bring to Mars the Earth landscape, as I imagined it, in my room as a child.”— Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects
Ma conceived of the collection as being Noah Beyond The Ark. Timber, used to build the ark, saved the great Old Testament patriarch from the deluge. In MAD Martian, Ma reasoned that in the future, highly advanced materials will catapult those few lucky chosen ones into safe extra-terrestrial environments, beyond the apocalypse. To convey this idea, the first seven pieces in the collection were made using a combination of old and new techniques: advanced machining with hand-finishing and cutting-edge form making finished with artisanal detailing.
The MAD Martian collection employs the design language of science fiction, established during the mid 20th Century. Traces of the 1960s Space Race aesthetic are visible in the suspension lights, whereas the candelabras and the fish tank take their cue in part from later masterworks such as Alien
and Blade Runner.
“Sometimes I think Ma Yansong can talk to aliens. His architectural works are breathtakingly avant-garde in some way that makes the audience feel they stepped into another world. I challenged him to design a living space for Martians; he wants to make Martians feel on earth.” — Wang Yu, co-founder of Gallery All
This collection constitutes an ongoing series of in-house commissions by Los Angeles and Beijing-based Gallery All, whose focus is increasingly turning towards emerging and established Chinese designers. Gallery All works with creative director Lou Weis to develop narratives for many of these internally conceived and produced collections.
The Creative and Production Process
This collection is the result of a two-year research and design development process. It started with a conversation between Yu Wang, co-founder and Director of Gallery ALL, and Ma about the theme of MAD Martian, and what a furniture collection of Chinese interplanetary pioneers would look like. On agreeing to produce the collection, the focus quickly turned to researching the history and current material language of science fiction movies, with specific reference to colonization of other planets and the ‘Space Odyssey,’ generally.
Numerous discussions were had between the creative team at Gallery ALL, MAD architects, and consulting Creative Director Lou Weis about what this imagined small community for Martian colonizers would desire for their new interior architectural world. As the astronauts started to understand the environment—the changes in the seasons, the different rise and fall of the sun, the emergence of distinct flora and fauna—Ma designed the decorative language of their interior spaces as a hybrid condition; nostalgia for Earth and a reflection of the Martian environment.
As typologies emerged, it was decided that the collection would be made from a fluid, highly reflective metallic skin. This is representative of a desired future manufacturing context, delivering materials that not only endure extremely harsh environments, but physically adapt within them.
The manufacturing process for the MAD Martian pieces has been conducted in China and Europe using advanced automated, robotic manufacturing (CNC, 3D printing, advanced mould-making) and artisanal skills, such as hand polishing across incredibly complex surfaces.