Aric Chen bij Verwondering

Just do it! As the new director of The New Institute, that weirdly intriguing archive for architecture and digital culture, Aric pleas for more design experiments. An international episode of Verwondering.

Our podcast guest is Chinese-American author and curator Aric Chen. He’s the new general and artistic director of The New Institute, that weirdly intriguing place for design and digital culture, with one of the largest architecture archives in the world.

As globalization brought us a climate crisis that we’re just now beginning to fully understand, we find ourselves with a globe that isn’t the borderless adventure land we once hoped it would be. In this show, Aric shares his belief that manifestos are part of how we got into the mess that we're in.

Photo: Harald Dunnink in conversation with Aric Chen

Chen studied architecture and anthropology at UC Berkeley, followed by design history at Cooper Hewitt in New York. On a whim he moved to China and was the creative director of the Beijing Design Week. He built a collection from scratch for M+, a brand new museum in Hong Kong. For the past 13 years, he lived happily in China and had no intention of leaving Shanghai. What drew this explorer to a young institution in Europe that nevertheless has a long history; a story that he has admired for years? 

This eye-opening podcast is a visual journey too. You can view all the designs that Harald and his guest discuss, by visiting the show’s gallery – on verwondering.com.


gallery highlights of this episode:

  • For 7 years starting from 2012, Aric Chen helped to build a collection from scratch for M+, a museum for visual culture in Hong Kong. In this episode, Aric reveals the budget of the project: over 1 billion euros. Read more about the museum. 

  • For that museum Chen acquired a beautifully designed sushi bar in Tokyo and moved it in its entirety to Hong Kong. It was designed in the 1980s by Shiro Kuramata. Read more.

  • Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen claims to be the first museum depot in the world to offer access to a complete collection, without the intervention of a curator. The building has been designed by MVRDV and opened November 2021. It’s exactly opposite of The New Institute. Read more.

  • According to The New Institute, Zoöp is the title of an organizational model for cooperation between human and nonhuman life that safeguards the interests of all zoë (Greek for 'life'). The zoöp model makes the interests of nonhuman life part of organizational decision making. Read more.

  • I.M. Pei died in 2019. As an architect, he was one of the great figures of 20th century modernism. Known for works like the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris or the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. As Aric stated, ‘he was an architect of subtle contradictions: famous yet under-recognised, pragmatic yet insistent, disciplined but not afraid of breaking the rules.’ Read more.