“INSIDE-OUT” by Xiaodan Zhou focuses on the relationship between public space and private space in the context of textile. The thing that separates domestic and public spaces are the exterior of the buildings, as the textile separates the body from the outside world. These “transition spaces” are the spaces that connect these two realms. She reflects this resemblance to her works with the usage of architectural materials like wire, monofilament, acrylic extrusions. Her textiles become a shield that protects the body almost like a form of armour.
Viewed from the perspective of privacy, the difference between private and public is revealed to be the distinction between things that are hidden and things that are shown.
Her primary research has two steps. As the project is about the relationship between the public and private, she chooses body and architectural images to symbolise her concept. She looked into the building cladding (glass cover/ mirror cover), automatic door/revolving doors, elevator, escalator, outside stairs, etc. She focused on the body as well, body gestures, natural body shape.
As a result of her research on architecture (experimenting on hard or manipulative materials, observing the geometrical forms of urban silhouette), she focused on making hard shapes and structures. She used lots of exterior simulated materials (wire/mono/acrylic).
Meanwhile, because of the duality of her project (body/architecture, public/private), she investigated bio-plastics for making a “second skin”. Bio-plastic is a useful metaphor for the body. She did bio-plastic experiments as another approach to armour/protection wear, a second skin.
After her secondary research of armour wear, the idea of conceptualising armour wear by using body adornment/body jewellery came to her mind. Both architecture and textile protect the private from the public. Buildings contribute to dividing these two spaces, leave us private space to do things, the problems are averted (weather, noise, people’s gaze.) similar to textile/clothing. Both have the same function: protection, that’s where she started to look at armour wear. Ancient Chinese armours were designed very architecturally and had a strong sense of protection. She weaved big chunks of bio-plastic inside little fabric pockets and created a similar look, feeling.