Mathieu Lehanneur has designed a temporary installation for Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet. Located within the Yuz Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai, the 'Ring' is comprised of a large-scale 4m high copper ring, into which visitors are invited on a journey that allows them to explore the rich history of the brand.
In the centre of the space, a huge rock - created from cast replicas of those found in the watchmaker's home in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland, and a tribute to its geography - leads the visitor to twelve open doors that evoke the hours of a watch dial. As they move from one door to another, visitors act as imaginary needles, representing the hands of a timepiece.
"This temporary museum is a reflection on time... a dreamy vision of time where each instant differs from the previous one. Here every door opens onto a new story," Lehanneur explained.
While the copper-coated monumental exterior provides a sense of mystery and awe, the interior of 'The Ring' offers a series of themed exhibits that allow the visitor a close-up experience of the iconic Swiss brand, each curated to reveal a story about Audemars Piguet: from its origins to the 21st century, from watchmaking to contemporary art, from innovations to the masterpieces, from the Vallée de Joux to China.
Mathieu Lehanneur's passion and skill lie in the exploration of the natural and technical possibilities of an object in order to create designs which are functional, but which appeal to the physical and emotional senses. It is this dual interest in nature and technology that made Lehanneur the perfect choice of designer for this temporary museum for Audemars Piguet. Through his vision and clever approach, the designer ensures that each of the main milestones and periods of style in this watchmaking epic are told in a uniquely engaging way.
"Audemars Piguet is one of the rare brands where everything is so perfect that each element deserves to be seen, never hidden: its origins, the landscape from which it derives, the workshops in which the watchmakers apply their craft, the tools, labs... Just like the tiny pieces in their watches, every single element of the story, even if it is invisible to the consumer, is a masterpiece," Lehanneur stated. "In this exhibition, I wanted to open all the doors."
Two hundred timepieces - the largest Audemars Piguet collection ever to be shown outside its own Museum - are displayed across the twelve rooms within the installation. Lehanneur's signature design is present in each room in the mix of noble and natural materials, in the blend of digital content and craftsmanship and in the respect with which he honours the brand's codes.
From the origins of the brand to the detailed workings of one of the timepieces, from the watchmaker's workshop to the acoustic lab, Lehanneur takes the visitor on an inspirational and experimental journey within the symbolic - and iconic - Ring.
Following Shanghai, the temporary 'Ring' museum will travel to other art capitals throughout 2017.