Craft, technology and “evolving notions of copying” are among the themes explored by one of the broadest collections of Asia-centric design, which has just gone on display in Hong Kong’s new West Kowloon Cultural District.

The Shifting Objectives exhibition provides a preview of the design objects held by the M+ museum of visual culture, due to open in 2019 in a Herzog and de Meuron-designed building.

In the interim, the site’s first permanent venue, the mirror-clad M+ Pavilion, is already hosting exhibitions.

Shifting Objectives is its second and features design by Nendo, Charlotte Perriand, Shiro Kuramata, Yusaku Kamekura, Sori Yanagi, Toshiba and Le Corbusier, among others.

The M+ museum takes a broad approach to collecting but focuses on 20th- and 21st-century design “as seen from the museum’s vantage point in Asia”.

The Shifting Objectives exhibition, designed by Hong Kong-based studio Collective, explores those stories through two sections: Histories and Constellations.

While Histories is quite straightforward, Constellations takes a more experimental approach, exploring various themes affecting the design industry today through the juxtaposition of 40 objects.

Butterfly Stool, model 0521, 1956, by Yanagi Sori
Butterfly Stool, model 0521, 1956, by Yanagi Sori

Some of the themes explored in this section include the reinvention of craft, the effect of digitally enabled design and fabrication, and what M+ describes as “evolving notions of copying”.

“I think, given where we are, copying is not just an especially resonant issue but also one in which we can perhaps offer a different take that’s perhaps more nuanced, and not so black-and-white,” said Chen.