Art Basel Hong Kong 2018: Loro Piana’s Cloud-Like “The Gift of Kings” Exhibition

590 panels of the world's finest wool make for a jubilant, immersive experience

by Alessandro De Toni

In conjunction with Art Basel Hong Kong, Loro Piana—one of the world’s most prestigious cashmere and luxury fabric manufacturers—pays homage to its most renowned material known as The Gift of Kings. It’s quite a bold name but it represents an incredibly fine, feather-light and rare wool sourced by Loro Piana through a 30-year-long collaboration with a selection of Merino sheep breeders in Australia and New Zealand. This material, measuring only 12 microns (one thousandth of a millimeter), is far finer than cashmere and only available in very limited quantities, meaning it’s quite extraordinary that it was used as the principal source material for this installation.

Housed at H Queens, Hong Kong Central’s newest glass tower dedicated to art and lifestyle, the exhibition features a centerpiece of 590 panels suspended as one cloud-like sculpture. It truly floats inside the space, inviting visitors to step inside, touch and discover the material—and its journey, highlighted in parts through the space. Guests approach this huge expanse of floating material by pushing away a rough outer layer of unfinished wool, representing the coarse fibers widely used by the mass market. Of course the venue, and the 16 swinging chairs suspended within, encourages a sense of sitting in the clouds.

At the heart of Loro Piana is a deep respect for nature, and each of the three rooms at the exhibition represents this integral connection, presenting the wool as a natural phenomenon that conveys its exceptional characteristics. Beyond the clouds there are rain, waterfalls and waves, all created to portray the softness, lightness, and purity of the material. At no point, however, does the exhibition feel like it exists only to speak to the materials. This is an art exhibit and an ethereal one at that.

“The Gift Of Kings” exhibition will run at Hong Kong H Queens through 31 March.

Hero image courtesy of Loro Piana, all other images by Alessandro De Toni