Interiors Awards 2017: Entertainment

“Meteors” extending from the ceiling are made of aluminum plates painted with wood patterns. Walls and floors in the lobby and corridors are sheathed in rich gray marble. Photography by Jonathan Leijonhufvud

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Meteor Cinema
Designer: One Plus Partnership
Client: Guangzhou Jinyi Film & Television Media
Location: Guangzhou, China

“As an extension of the movie experience, the design is very dynamic and in line with the experience that one visits a theater to have. It almost looks like the space is animated, like it moves. The design is over the top but over the top in a really well-done, appropriate way. It’s a great space.” —Jury

Within the darkened confines of a theater, movies offer the experience of an alternate reality. In Meteor Cinema in Guangzhou, China, One Plus Partnership extends this concept beyond the screen, recasting the entire cinema interior as a fantastical escape from everyday life. Inspired by meteor showers, One Plus co-founders and design directors Ajax Law Ling Kit and Virginia Lung Wai Ki adopt rich materials, bold elements, and an earth-toned palette to create an otherworldly space that reflects the client’s pioneering aspirations.

Guangzhou Jinyi Film & Television Media, one of mainland China’s largest cinema companies, endeavors to move beyond the confines of a traditional movie house. Instead of following trends, “We strive to be an initiator in this industry, to set a higher benchmark, to be innovative,” says Guangzhou Jinyi Chief Branding Officer Vera Tang. For many, a theater’s lobby is merely a place to purchase tickets and popcorn. “But, for us, the cinema lobby is where we portray brand value, culture, and a sense of design,” says Tang.

Impressed by the originality of One Plus’s work, the client approached the firm to design an interior that would further distinguish the brand. “Our client wanted a breakthrough … and believed that we [could] bring a new image to their cinema,” says Lung.

Meteor Cinema occupies 45,000 square feet on two floors of a recently constructed shopping mall. As visitors enter, they are greeted by a massive “meteor shower” descending from the 40-foot ceiling. Fashioned from aluminum plates that are painted in two woodgrain patterns, the meteors are frozen in time, signaling a new realm with the dramatic entrance. The meteor theme persists beyond the lobby to pervade all aspects of the cinema, calling to mind an extraterrestrial landscape that is both stark and elegant. Rich gray marble sheathes the lobby’s walls and floors, which appear almost monolithic; in the corridors, the marble forms become more linear and even planar, echoing the meteors’ streaking journey across the sky.

Embedded points of light cast shadows throughout the angular corridors, evoking a sense of mystery. In place of conventional signage, custom-designed three-dimensional stainless-steel extruded letters project into the space and mark the entrances to the eight theaters. The largest theater features 323 earth-toned plush seats. The VIP theater has 54 leather recliners arranged in pairs and shielded by leather privacy screens. These custom-made chairs recall business-class airline seats, offering viewers an upscale experience.

While designing the cinema, One Plus creatively addressed a series of challenges, beginning with how to best represent the meteoric theme. They initially envisioned long suspended cuboids composed of wood to bring warmth into the cool gray space. However, fire regulations prohibit the use of wood for these hanging elements, so the designers opted for aluminum plates painted with wood patterns. The cuboids’ dense placement posed yet another fire hazard, which was abated by installing additional sprinkler heads. Finally, to level the differing ceiling heights that proved problematic for the installation of the cuboids, One Plus conceived a suspended metal structure that doubles to conceal wires, tubing, and air-conditioning vents.

These imaginative solutions allow the cinema to embody the elegant, escapist atmosphere that the designers intended. “We wanted to give the audience a feeling [that is] completely different from reality,” says Law Ling Kit.

Rendered in marble and earth tones, Meteor Cinema achieves this goal, according to Tang, by “subtly creating a sense of prestige and luxury, and the high-end viewing experience we want to bring to our consumers.”

who Designer: One Plus Partnership. Project team: Ajax Law Ling Kit; Virginia Lung Wai Ki. Interior contractor/lighting: client’s in-house team. Graphics: One Plus Partnership.
what Laminate: Formica. Auditorium wall: Jiangsu Burgeree. Hard flooring: Dongcheng. Hardware: Dorma. Seating: Zhongshan Hengva; Leadcom Seating. Tables: Zhongshan Hengva.