M+ / Design Trust Research Fellowship 2023 Awardees

16. 1. 2023

Design Trust and M+ are pleased to announce that Leah Hsiao and Flora Weil have been awarded the 2023 M+ / Design Trust Research Fellowship.


The jury of the 2023 fellowship consists of Design Trust Chairman of the Board Kamsen Lau, Design Trust Co-founder and Executive Director Marisa Yiu, M+ Lead Curator, Design and Architecture Ikko Yokoyama, M+ Curator, Design and Architecture Shirley Surya and Het Nieuwe Instituut General and Artistic Director, Aric Chen.


‘Design Trust is proud to support awarded fellows Leah Hsiao and Flora Weil. Their proposals address and advocate the positive role of design through rigorous research from the past to the future, from Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and the Greater Bay Area to the global stage, looking at urgent challenges on education and climate awareness,‘ says Design Trust Executive Director Marisa Yiu.


‘The two awarded proposals reflect the wide spectrum of M+’s curatorial interest through archive-based historical research in design and architectural production that have shaped the region in relationship to Hong Kong, as well as the use of varied methodologies in unraveling the role of design in and effect on ongoing social or ecological phenomenon across Asia’, says Ikko Yokoyama of M+.


Since 2015, the M+ / Design Trust Research Fellowship programme has supported original research projects investigating issues relating to design and architecture in Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area, and Asia through a transnational lens. In addition to expanding the current body of knowledge in these areas, the findings from the fellowship will inform research on the existing collection, future acquisitions, and other programmes at M+. Past Fellows include designers and historians Ling Fan, Joseph Grima, Juliana Kei, Daniel Cooper, Thomas Daniell, Hugh Davies, Fan Lok Yi, Sampson Wong, Oliver Elser, Yasmin Tri Aryani, Jason Lau, Mark Wasiuta, Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Emily Verla Bovino and Anouchka van Driel.


Leah Hsiao

Leah Hsiao is a historian whose research and writings explore the relationship between the Bauhaus and China, particularly through the dissemination and translation of Bauhaus art and design principles through the work of architects such as Walter Gropius and I. M. Pei. Hsiao’s research has been published in The Architectural Review and West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. She was a research fellow at the Bauhaus Lab: Global Modernism Studies at the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in 2016. Hsiao received her PhD in History of Art from the University of York in the UK and is a lecturer at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in China.


Hsiao investigates the formation of design education in the Greater Bay Area from the late 1970s to the 1990s within the context of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts as a manifestation of urban developments during the era of reform and opening-up in China. The research seeks to identify the processes and outcomes of translating design pedagogy and linking it to design practice and urban culture through the institution’s agency. It also traces the dynamics of key exchanges with Hong Kong entities in reframing and applying modern design within both local and regional context, prompted by design and architecture related archives at M+.


Left: Li Hui-jun. Black Light Composition, 1994. Middle: Lin Yin. Computer-Based Composition, 1995. Right: JIMEI Design Group, Guangdong JIMEI Design & Construction Co. Design for the Guangdong Province Reform and Opening Up Exhibition, 1994. Selected Works at the 1995 Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition. Image courtesy of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts

Flora Weil

Flora Weil is a designer, engineer, and artist whose works focus on exploring new narratives around the development of emerging technologies. Her personal practice focuses on challenging human centrality in design and science. Her projects have been displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Singapore Art Museum. As a researcher, Weil has led interdisciplinary projects with scientists in Tokyo to transform academic research into new products and platforms. She has a background in engineering, holds a double master's in design and innovation from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, and is a fellow at Transformations of the Human.


Weil’s project examines collaborative infrastructural, experimental, and environmental responses that emerge from spring winds blown across the borders of China, South Korea, and Japan. The wind is a mixture of sand, soot, and industrial particles. Weil’s research focuses on upwind locations, specifically resettlement and geoengineering sites in Gansu Province, China, where largescale anti-desertification schemes, digital terraforming, and climate migration programs have multiplied. By exploring how a design, with the concepts of planetarity and elementarity in mind, can materialise from mutual climate uncertainties, the research follows the fluctuations of territories, networks, and ecosystems which rise and fall while co-constituting each other’s boundaries.

Design in Rising Winds, image courtesy of Flora Weil