This angular, dramatically cantilevered wardrobe designed by Li Naihan borrows its shape from the China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters in Beijing. Designed by the architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren of OMA and completed in 2012, the CCTV building’s unconventional shape earned it the local nickname ‘big pants’, perhaps prompting Li’s quotation of the building for a piece of furniture used to store clothing. Mirroring OMA’s concept of the skyscraper as a continuous loop of space instead of a single upright tower, the user of the wardrobe must circle around it to access compartments for different clothing types.
Li studied architecture at University College London before returning to China to launch her design practice. The CCTV Wardrobe is part of Li’s I AM A MONUMENT series, whose title borrows from Learning from Las Vegas, the influential 1972 book by architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour. In the book, the phrase ‘I AM A MONUMENT’ appears in a drawing of a banal building with a billboard placed atop it. The inherent humour of Li’s design is offset by its highly polished execution. The wardrobe is made from bubinga, a species of tropical rosewood prized for its hardness, colour, and richly figured grain. The wood links the work to a longer history of furniture in which luxurious or ‘exotic’ materials were used to signify status and authority—much like the role of high-profile architecture for cities and nations today. Li’s witty transformations of iconic buildings into functional objects enable more serious reflections on the scale, influence, and architectural presence of powerful institutions.