Director Ang Lee talks about movies in this way, “I think we directors are just like conductors. We sense something and then convey to the public through ourselves, stimulating their emotions, imagination, and thinking. This is what we say about making a film. ” This collaboration with FAB Cinema made me suddenly realize that as a designer, I also seemed to be a space director. I felt the power of life acting on me and cut out beautiful freeze-frames and close-ups, fabricating unreal dreams, mobilizing and stimulating the audiences’ emotions and imagination, and then conveying them through the carrier, space.

Project name: FAB Cinema
Project location: Xi’an, China
Project area: 1150㎡
Completion time: 2020.01
Design company: X+Living
Chief designer: Li Xiang
Project director: Ren Lijiao, Wu Feng
Photo: Shao Feng

©️Shao Feng

In the design of FAB cinema, I moved the scenes and stories behind the films to the public view and the boring waiting area became a pre-order reaction container for the emotions. The awe of the creator was also projected into the design.

Traditional theaters pay more attention on panoramic sound effects and the viewing experience on the screen while they lack creativity. The single business model of selling tickets and snacks, will it somehow weaken the experience and expectations that the venue can give the audience? Or ignore the chemistry that can occur between the audience and the theater? As designers, we found an improvement approach which might be potential answer to the questions in this project.

According to the original plane, we can only build four relatively square video halls. Since this space pattern is difficult to provide rich viewing, we changed the thinking of traditional design and transformed its logic that purely focused on decoration into more in-depth thinking. From the perspective of integrating composite formats, the theater space is integrated with other formats with similar entertainment attributes to build an avant-garde new cinema space that meets the relatively closed business loops.

Originating from the owner’s personal hobby, we moved the lounge bar into the theater space. It is not only an independently operable space, but also symbiotic and mutually beneficial with the cinema. The experiential claw machine and other entertainments also stimulates consumers to extend their stay in the theater, maximizes the value of the space effect, and makes up for the free time before and after the movie.

©️Shao Feng

In terms of design concepts and aesthetics, we also break away from tradition and use space narrative to uniquely show the “shooting scene” of film production. Consumers’ flows just string out the film’s narrative logic so that the demand for spatial aesthetic experience before and after the film-watching was fully tapped and met.

The main hall of the cinema presents unique “visual effects” to every audience. The exaggerated black and gold color looks dramatic. The sales area and ticket office constructed by the exquisite “prop box” create a sense of fashion. The large floor lamps inspired from photographic lamp stand in between, creating a strong immersive experience atmosphere. The warm-colored lights of the different geometric shapes not only give the audience a strong scene suggestion, but also reflect the abstract art style with the lights refracted on the gradient floor.

The billiard table is supported by the fantasy-shaped duck webs, which has a surprising visual impact. The experiential claw machine in the metal-like entertainment space upgrades the experience of young customers. Dark red sofas, beds and bathtubs with design sense, all of these shooting props have successfully arranged a series of elegant compositions and close-ups. The bar, made of casual furniture imitating a director’s chair, invites people to indulge in a relaxing atmosphere that is very different from ordinary life.

In the elaborate design like “drawing a separated shot script”, the designer led the audience to experience the novel collision of multi-format fusion. Not only rendering the film sense with different forms, but also giving the audiences dual identities—both an audience in the reality and a participant of the movie-shooting in the imagination. They are connected and laid down  to enter the film world step by step. And instead of waiting boringly, they will enter an active participation state through the mobilization of the atmosphere.

©️Shao Feng

The cinema is divided into four themed video halls. The ticket counter is a metal toolbox with a shark dorsal fins decoration. The pink fantasy corridor immediately attracts the audience into the dramatic vortex, further enhancing the mystery of the film story to be revealed. Hall No. 1 simulates an European-style study, with classic bookcases and black and red seats overflowing with aristocratic heritage.

In Hall No. 2 we built a grotesque artist’s living room. The Dutch-style wall uses only pure colors and geometric images to express the purity of the design spirit. The unique inverted hall is full of drama effect, with bunny sculpture in the auditorium and hanging hat-shaped lamps adding funs to the space.

Hall No. 3 adopts light luxury and elegant arches of classical architectural elements to bring a sense of order. Black and white strips of carpet and seats embellish the quiet dark green space. Hall No. 4 transforms into a futuristic surreal street. The bright neon shows the vitality of the city and the rich colors convey the style of fashion.

Regardless of the video halls or the private rooms, we did not ignore the specific requirements of the acoustic environment. The wall coverings and ceilings in the venue are equipped with sound-absorbing devices, and personalized carpets effectively reduce noise. Comfortable seats, taking into consideration the high vision difference and viewpoint height, have ensured high-quality listening and visual enjoyment and enhanced the audience’s immersive movie watching experience.

©️Shao Feng

While satisfying the best viewing needs and leisure entertainment, the designer has completely changed the interactive viewing experience through landscaping in the hall. And by creating scenes ingeniously, the designer pays tribute to the filmmakers who have made countless laughter and tears on the screen and presents a perfect film-watching journey for movie enthusiasts. In addition to providing entertainment and popcorn, a cinema should also pay attention to the connection between audience and the art of film. Director Hou Hsiao-hsien has a saying, “There are many valuables in our life that is impossible to describe and difficult to classify, and they can’t even constitute any significant meaning. But, they just linger in my mind.” The space that the designer has created as a space director exactly expects to fill gaps between reality and fantasy and to create those incomparable valuables in people’s life.


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