A contemporary translation of the legend, the Peach Blossom Spring 桃花源記 (tÁohuÀ yuÁn ji, 421), this creative was co-produced by IKONICA & PALETTERA (Jackson Huang and Deborah Lau-Yu). We worked alongside a talented team of professionals: Stemz (for decor and floral), Jackie Gideon Beauty (make-up, hair and styling), Romona Keveza (bridal gowns), Cakes by Konstadin (cake design), and Tara Fava (custom jewellery). PALETTERA was responsible for the art direction and stationery design. The creative was published in Wedluxe Magazine in the Winter/Spring 2013 Eastern Edition. Here, we would like to share the vision of the creative, as well as some of our inspirations. It was such an honour to work with this high calibre team!
The creative was a film-inspired interpretation of the mystical relationship between human & nature, with explorations on the visual language of the orient through porcelain & jade. We also investigated the ordinary and utopia 世外桃源 with reference to the work of Hong Kong film director, Ka-Wai Wong and his muse, actress Maggie Cheung. In particular, we were in love with the artistic elements of his famous film, In the Mood for Love.
In 421(Jin Dynasty) in China, poet Tao Yuanming composed PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING (traditional Chinese: 桃花源記; pinyin: Táohuā Yuán Jì)— a fable about a discovery of an ethereal utopia where its people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, completely unaware of the outside world for centuries. In the story, a fisherman from Wuling, comes across a beautiful peach grove, and he discovers happy and content people that live completely cut off from the troubles in the outside world since the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BCE).
Jade carries immense historical value that has translated into time-honoured traditions and everyday use in modern culture. In the history of art of the Chinese empire, jade has had a special significance, comparable with that of gold and diamonds in the West (diamonds holding predominant significance and value in all Western weddings around the world). Jade that has become a vivid green shade became known in the Chinese culture as Feicui (翡翠) Jade, which is considered a highly valued and appreciated variety of the stone. Many documented jade pieces are intricately carved by hand by master sculptures, and radiate in its colour, organic composition and ability to offer depth and character in its simplicity. Often times, a designated jade stone is passed down through generations of a family.
THE GIFT OF INSPIRATION
In 2010, while travelling in Hong Kong, we received a special gift: a beautiful jade charm that was carved with a tiny bird in a tree of blossoms. It sparked a moment of inspiration that finally took shape when this editorial creative was being planned. Adapting the historic and sentimental value of Jade throughout our concept, we used Jade as one of the two main aesthetic avenues to portray the essence of a naturous paradise — not only literally with some shades of green and Feicui, but also the characteristics of the stone, its organic variations and substantial and sculptural nature.
In a refreshing take on contemporary event design, the Art Gallery of Ontario was the perfect setting for our collective vision, as well as our lovingly crafted artifacts of invitation and stationery, cake, floral arrangements, and vignettes.
The invitation was tailored to mimic the physical traits of carved jade. The blossoms were hand-illustrated and letterpress printed, finished with beautifully typeset gold-pressed text. Charmingly, the invitation shows varying depths of green through the rice paper, like how a stone would reflect light. The main piece was kept inside a deep jade green gate fold folio, with tiny, delicated hand-crafted paper peach blossoms that acted as the knobs.
Presented in a handcrafted box made of rice paper and kraft paper, a lovely quote on the box band by Helen Keller works with the tactile texture of the piece to evoke feeling and touch and experience, “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.”
Each menu was a part of a large Chinese brush painting, which was carefully printed on rice paper, with a small and classy double happiness symbol pressed in gold. Presented in a a scroll format, the band that kept the scroll together was sealed by a wax-seal inspired gold paper charm with the matching symbol inside the menu.
STYLE AS SUBSTANCE
The body of work that inspired the direction of our creative comes from Director Wong Ka-Wai. His exemplary work in films is not only intriguing and dramatic, but highly stylized and carefully articulated. Born in Shanghai, Wong is a highly acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker, “internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Days of Being Wild (1990), Ashes of Time (1994), Chungking Express (1994), & Happy Together (1997).” His film In the Mood for Love (2000), starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, garnered widespread critical acclaim and received awards at the Cannes Film Festival.
In Peter Brunette’s book in the series of Contemporary Film Directors, he writes about a resounding quality of the narrative of Wong’s work — that “it is not a case of style over substance; rather, it’s style as substance.” (preface xv) The context of the statement was a part of a political context and discussion of European and Chinese aesthetics. In relating it to graphic design and art direction, the relationship between the formal elements and the message is so important in design. This is not to imply a linear narrative, but rather, a narrative carried by specific and formal elements.
Co-producers: PALETTERA & IKONICA (Deborah Lau-Yu & Jackson Huang)
Decor and florals: Stemz
Stationery Design & Production: PALETTERA Custom Correspondences
Brush Painting Artwork: Rose Yue
Gowns: Romona Keveza
Make-up & Beauty: Jackie Gideon Beauty
Styling: Amarsana Guendonova
Venue: Art Gallery of Ontario
Model: Yixi Wang