Inside London Emerging Scenographer Lydia Chan’s psychedelic universe

LONDON – Fashion set designer Lydia Chan adds a bit of color and fun to East London’s urban renewal project, the Greenwich Peninsula, with her solo installation debut “Your Ship Has Landed” in Now Gallery, which opened to the public on Friday and runs until 6 p.m. February 13, 2022

The London-based Chinese-Canadian designer transformed the curved facade of the art space into a futuristic fantasy world through a range of vibrant colors, augmented reality interactive components and alien-shaped creatures.

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Chan said her installation is not about a big concept, but rather “designed to plant a seed of science fiction and fantasy in our subconscious” and “open conversations about reinterpreting science as fun and bringing out our inner children.”

“The gallery is 1,300 square meters, which is quite large, and it is 7 meters high. It’s huge. The pieces I made are also really big. The point is, it kind of plays with the scale and makes you feel really small and insignificant compared to the grandeur of space in the universe and life itself. It’s the kind of scale that reminds you that no matter what problems you have, or whoever you are, you’re actually just a little dot in this giant space, ”she said.

Viewers can also experience the installation at home with virtual reality glasses. Digital artists Songyee Kim and Thibault Evrard created the virtual experience of the installation for Chan since her project was developed during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Interactive element of Lydia Chan's installation

Interactive element of Lydia Chan’s installation “Your Ship Has Landed.” – Credit: Courtesy


“I started this project in March when we were still in lockdown. So I thought, ‘what if COVID-19 never ends and we never leave our house?’ “So it’s part of a design where we thought about how people can get involved in the exhibition, even if we were stuck at home. So that was a bit where the AR aspect came from,” Chan explained.

“There are two environmental filters that are gallery specific. So you can only access them in the gallery. But then there are two filters that you can access just at home. There is one that is face filtered and the other that “is an environmental filter, and then you can project the various components inside the exhibit into your own home. So you can be inside such an alien in your home,” she added.

“Your Ship Has Landed” is the eighth installation in Now Gallery’s ongoing design commission project. Previous contributors include Emmanuelle Moureaux, Camille Walala, Fred Butler and Studio Morison.

Before launching her career in scenography by working under the famous scenographer and artist Gary Card, Chan trained as an interior designer before enrolling in fashion communication and promotion at Central Saint Martins. Her lively use of colors as well as her maximalist and often surrealistic aesthetics have established her as one of the most exciting young set designers working in the fashion industry today, with clients such as Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney and Gucci.

Lydia Chan's installation

Lydia Chans installation “Your Ship Has Landed.” – Credit: Courtesy


“I was going to be a stylist and I realized it’s just a lot of emails and really boring. During university, we did a project on scenography, and one of the projects was to research different scenographers. I researched Gary and I decided he was my creative soulmate …. So pretty much all the time that was in London, I was involved in scenography and helped Gary. “

“It has been fantastic, because I have always liked to make things and make my own objects, either jewelry or clothes. Making was like a big part of who I am as a person. I think it’s like the calling of my life, ”Chan said.

In fact, this project with Now Gallery would not exist without Card’s involvement.

“He recommended me to the gallery, and then I was among a few other artists to pitch ideas for this exhibition, and they chose me in the end,” she added.

“I’m proud to say that Lydia is my star student,” Card told WWD: “She embodies my overall design philosophy. Lydia was quite shy when she started working with me, it took a while to see who she was. was … then we got to know each other, there was so much about her that reminded me of myself when I started.

“A love of cartoon iconography, monsters, robots, with the ability to use these influences to create amazing fashion scenes. She has pure and boundless creative energy. One of the few assistants I’ve ever worked with that I could “I did not do a project and I had full confidence that she would do it, and she did it every time. She could turn six cardboard boxes into something incredible,” he added.

Lydia Chan's installation

Lydia Chans installation “Your Ship Has Landed.” – Credit: Courtesy


Jemima Burrill, curator of Now Gallery Chan’s installation, “will give us the energetic exhibit we all need.”

“In our winter months, we want to lure people into a world with both her comic aesthetics and her colorful ethos. … Our goal is to have an environment where people are able to come and perform, dance, pose while also absorbs Lydia’s eternal curiosity about how the world works, ”she added.

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