Traveling is one of the few activities and hobbies that all of us share a passion for. From the anticipation of planning a trip, to the unforeseen adventures along the way and memories we look back on, traveling is an inspiring and unique experience that stokes our creativity. Given this singular theme of “travel”, ESPRIT engaged us to develop and execute an online interactive campaign in China. We titled the campaign Empty Heart City (心空之城).
We focused our storytelling concept on the specific theme of traveling in style, with the aim of sharing different stories of travel through artwork. For these travel expressions, we curated and art directed Chinese designers / EDGE Creative Collective members to create a series of artworks across a wide array of mediums including copywriting, type design, collage, installation, sculpture, illustration, silk screening printing, photography / stereography, handicraft, porcelain, music composition, etc.
Participating artists included Shadow Chen, Veiray, Huzi, Ka Xiaoxi, 223, Ren Hang, Tang Ting, Sui Yao, Zhao Xiaohan, Mo Houqie, Zhi Ming, Huang Jing, Huang He, Yang Yuanyuan, Deng Ying, Chan Qu, Zhang Jiayin, Zhuang Hafo, and Kreuzzz. Participating musicians included Dingke, Wanderlust, Novaheart, A-A’, and Self Party.
To design a campaign key visual / icon that captured the theme of the campaign and the tone of the ESPRIT brand, we worked with EDGE Creative Collective member Veiray. The inspiration behind the KV comes from the beloved stamps in well-traveled passports and postmarks on postcards sent from around the world.
We worked with EDGE Creative Collective members Huzi, Shadow, Mo Houqie, Sui Yao, Zhao Xiaohan, and Zhiming to create travel-inspired and themed works that incorporate ESPRIT products.
Huzi (胡子）- Cololrful Paris (色彩巴黎) ///
Shanghai-based artist Huzi combined fabric collage (from ESPRIT products) and oil painting methods to express her concept of travel. Her intimate and abstract piece uses an explosion of colors to portray the unique architecture and landscapes of Paris. She conceals a faint portrait and lips forms of Parisians behind the iconic foreground imagery of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, and the Seine river. The inspiration for a lot of her work comes from her travels to different cultures, countries, and cities. Huzi is like all of us; we’re all just “on the road” seeing the sights.
Sui Yao – Geometry City (几何城) ///
To many people, literal expressions of world cities are complicated places full of tall buildings, green spaces, and people flows. But, to Shanghai-based designer Sui Yao, these objects represent different shapes and geometric forms in her artwork. The skyscrapers are pointy triangles. The office buildings are cumbersome rectangles. The hordes of people, the lush greenery, and passing clouds are shown with repeating patterns found in ESPRIT product fabrics. Sui’s sees the cities she travels to as visions of fantasy dreamworlds, as “Geometric Cities.”
Shadow Chen – Whirlpool (漩) ///
For Shanghai-based artist Shadow Chen, travel is about getting away for rest when weary, for adjusting our circadian rhythms, for finding a place within ourselves to restart. City dwellers share a similar sentiment. They are constantly rushing about with their work, always on the move like a spinning yo-yo or whirlwind. Her sofa installation piece is made up of over 200 pieces of ESPRIT clothing. The base of the sofa represents our past, present, and future cities of residence. The shapes and forms along the edges of the sofa are people of every kind hurriedly moved along making their way through the confusion of the world looking for an escape, an opportunity to get away, a chance to hit the road and find time to reorganize ourselves. However, we never stop for long, soon enough we get back to hurriedly passing by each other on the city streets.
Mo Houqie (莫厚切) – Unknown Travels (未知之旅) ///
Mo Houqie screenprinted these t-shirts to commemorate her travels in Japan, in which she and a few of her closest friends hopped on a train to an unknown destination, leaving the familiarity of Tokyo behind. As the buildings lining the railways became more and more sparse, the group found themselves in Yamanashi county, caught amidst a thick fog. After getting off the train, they could make out the hazy outline of Mount Fuji off in the distance. They wandered into a forest, where they discovered a strange world of monstrous fruits, with giant peaches and grapes. Maybe in real life these magical forests don’t exist, but within the fantasy and memory of the artist, anything is possible…
Zhao Xiaohan (赵小涵) – Winter Clothes (寒衣) ///
Using the fabric from ESPRIT’s white t-shirts, textile artist Zhao Xiaohan created this unforgettable item of clothing. After cutting the t-shirts into little pieces, Xiaohan added glue to turn the fabrics into pliable pieces, molding them into snowflakes of different sizes. She was inspired by her upbringing in northeast China where the winters are harsh, and each year the city is blanketed in a layer of soft, white snow.
Zhi Ming (志明) – Night Travel (夜游) ///
Zhi Ming takes us on an adventure through the night, where Shanghai and its dwellers undergo a kind of transformation. His lens captures the city’s essence, from quiet forks in the road, to red and green traffic lights in endless repetition. The two women, donning ESPRIT clothing, explore the city like spirits in the night, full of life and energy, as Zhi Ming captures complementary moments of stillness and movement that create the rhythm of the city.
Photographers 223, Ren Hang, Yang Yuanyuan, Huang Jing, and Huang He gave us an intimate glimpse into their lives and the lives of the people surrounding them on their travels.
223 – Walking & Loving (边走边爱) ///
223’s photographs bring us to the beach parties of Thailand, to the marshes of Southeast Asia, to early morning fields and rainforests, to the wild roads of Europe, and the autumn sun reflecting across America’s straits. Two masked characters haunt us along the way, and we’re left to wonder who they are: friends, companions, lovers? 223’s camera takes us to places that we will never see ourselves, transporting us directly into the experience of another.
Huang Jing (黄京) – Silent Travels (无声的旅行) ///
Most people approach travel with excitement, delight, and color. Youth photographer Huang Jing brings us a different perspective, in a black and white haze that envelops the entire world. The people and places that his lens happens to capture are like a silent recording. His photographs take us into a dreamlike existence of silence and tranquility with a perspective that seems almost mystical. Ships on the sea, withered trees, black-haired girls, and wandering pedestrians… Some people like cacophony, while others prefer silence. Some people like to travel with friends, while others take the path alone. Each of these scenes is carefully curated, and meant to be shared with those who could be considered friends.
Ren Hang (任航) – Another Perspective (另一个视角) ///
Ren Hang brings us another perspective through which to view our travels. Outside of a busy shopping mall, a subject is looking off into the tranquil distance. From the constricted space of a car, the lens observes the street scenes and highrises. With unique angles, his images always evoke particular emotions, portraying their subjects in his signature style. According to Ren Hang, his friends are the main reason that he’s able to create such rich imagery. Tgether with these companions, he has travelled to all different types of places, in order to experience the lives of others, commemorate unfamiliar sights, and find the extraordinary within the ordinary.
Huang He (黄河) – Together (在一起) ///
Huang He always travels with his lover, creating memories of climbing mountains, wandering coastlines, abandoned airplanes… all of these are moments in which he and his lover walk together, hand-in-hand. Those who travel alone, no matter how free or unrestrained they might be, may still encounter moments of loneliness. Perhaps when you’re with the one that you love, each step, every flower, every meal that you eat, becomes full of significance and spirit.
Yang Yuanyuan (杨圆圆) – Female Companions & Fellow Travelers (女伴与旅伴) ///
Traveling is not about running away, not about the hope of some chance romantic encounter, not about showing off. It’s really about purifying mind, body, and soul, about elevating one’s perspective toward life, perhaps even finding a new way to live, and opening up to endless possibilities. Yang Yuanyuan’s lens takes us on American highways, in a search for freedom amid abandoned suitcases, blown-out tires, and forgotten stars and stripes. These kinds of stories are the envy of all girls: to travel with just your best friend, commemorating friendship amidst the unknown. From coast to coast, we are always on the road, immersed in the beauty of the world.
Oil painter / ceramics artist Deng Ying used online user-submitted photographs of travel experiences to create a series of commemorative porcelain plates. The imagery on the plates are playful reinterpretations of submitted travel photos.
Photographers Zhang Jiayin, Chan, Zhuang Hafo, Ka Xiaoxi, and Tang Ting, travelled with us and ESPRIT on a single-day journey to the outskirts of Shanghai, documenting the short excursion in their own unique visual styles.
Zhang Jiayin ///
Chan Qu ///
Zhuang Hafo ///
Ka Xiaoxi ///
Tang Ting ///
Handicraft artist Kreuzzz created these lovely clamshell messages, with plants and flowers from England, as a meaningful present for campaign participants that couldn’t make it on the ESPRIT single-day journey in Shanghai.
We worked with musicians Dingke, Wanderlust, Novaheart, A-A’, and Self Party to create and design this limited-edition CD for the ESPRIT Empty Heart City (心空之城) campaign. From the packaging, to the cover, to the poster within, each detail is beautiful in its simplicity.