Ivan C. Design Limited have a real knack for the weird and wonderful. There's no denying it: these China-based designers make creating breathtaking interior dreamscapes look like child's play. A little while ago we featured one of their most remarkable spaces, a unique Shanghai creative studio which holds strange (but always pleasing) surprises around every corner.
This interior is no different, titled Alice in Wonderland by the designers themselves and fully living up to all the expectations that might accompany such a bold name. Created for display at the Beijing Poly Auction 2012, the surreal aims at the heart of this project are very clear, and it's equally clear that those aims have been thoroughly achieved. It's a space that blurs the line between interior design and art installation; it would be hard to step into this design and not wonder if you had fallen down the rabbit hole.
When viewed only in small sections, it can be hard to tell if this room is really a room or an art gallery. Here, two sculpture-like pieces vie for attention against the backdrop of a beautifully textured white wall. It's not clear from this shot that either of these pieces serves anything other than a purely decorative function, but we'll be seeing them from new angles soon.
Based just on this part of the interior, it's already obvious that this will be a space that strives for an odd beauty all it's own rather than relying upon the safety net of convention.
Here we begin to get a better sense of just how much is going on in this space. Perhaps most striking of the many items likely to draw the eye is that bold black and white tiled floor It would be a very interesting and fun design choice even on its own, but seen in combination with the array of brightly coloured pieces on display here – most noticeably that giant lollipop red face – its impact is greatly heightened.
It's also now clear that that face is, in fact, not a sculpture but a chair – albeit an extremely sculptural one.
Seeing the room framed through one of those red eyeholes may offer some insight into the way the designers wanted the space to be looked at. This photo shows a bizarre tableau, a strange, unexplained moment frozen in time. Trees grow indoors here, and in the background an empty dress oversees proceedings forebodingly.
There's a clear Alice in Wonderland reference here, in the form of that rabbit picture. But amidst the whimsical elements there is also room for practicality, as demonstrated by the presence of that fun but functional multi-coloured sideboard.
Does the face seem to welcome you into its territory, or warn you off? It's very much open to debate.
It might be less overtly strange than the section of the room we've mostly been looking at so far, but there is perhaps something more quietly unusual about this area. That vibrant red dress, seeming so much like it ought to be occupied by a person, comes close to being creepy (though beautifully so). Add to that the sheer curtain that can be drawn across it like a ghostly mist, and the incongruous white tree just seen on the left of the picture, and you've got a spine-chillingly gorgeous design.
The contrasting geometry of this colourful sculpture and the ridged wall behind it contrast with, but simultaneously complement, one another perfectly. Both are based on a triangular template, though each approaches the form so differently that that is where the similarities end.
Mixing clashing patterns is a classic technique for injecting a sense of playfulness into an interior, but it's not a technique that's very easy to get right. You'd never guess that looking at the furniture here, though; the clashing is so artfully done as to look incredibly simple.