Store design becomes art in its own right with Ai Weiwei’s Chinese mythical installations at luxury Paris department store.

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has created his first series of works for a commercial space, in the opulent surroundings of Le Bon Marché, Paris’ venerable luxury department store on the Rive Gauche.

Taking the form of paper and bamboo sculptures suspended in the atrium, the installations are based on the Chinese book of children’s tales, Classics of Mountains and Seas, referencing legends dating back more than two millennia. Weiwei used traditional Chinese kite-making techniques in their construction.

The patterns created complement the store’s windowpane check interior. This is a good example of a retailer reaching beyond the simple display of product to create something both eye-catching and which will draw crowds who might not normally enter the store.

Visual merchandising frequently imitates art (and is seen as art in its own right occasionally) but securing an artist of the stature of Weiwei to work in this manner is a coup.

The exhibition, called Er Xi, which translates as Child’s Play, is on show until February 20.