Rubber Duck

Hong Kong team questions production quality of Beijing Rubber Duck

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 September, 2013, 8:25pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 4:41am

It may be taller and bigger than its Hong Kong compatriot, but a gigantic rubber duckling on show in Beijing looks more like a slightly limp chicken.

The "authentic" Beijing version might not have been produced properly, say the team that made the Hong Kong version. Both ducks were designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.

The Beijing sculpture floating in the newly constructed Beijing Garden Expo Park has a different beak and a problematic bottom compared to the one that graced Victoria Harbour in May, the Hongkongers said. "The production isn't bad, but it seems that they got a different beak," said Lam Shu-kam, creative director of AllRightsReserved, Hofman's Hong Kong partner.

Jackie Chan Yuk-bong, account director of Meanmax, which oversaw production of the rubber duck in Hong Kong, said the beak appeared to have been sewn in the wrong direction.

Chan said the pattern of the stitching on the Beijing rubber duck's caused it to look more pointy and sloping downwards, resembling more the beak of a chicken. The Hong Kong version, in contrast, had a more realistic, curved beak like a duck's, he said.

"The wide, plump beak is an iconic feature of the rubber duck," said Chan. "We had problems, too, at the beginning and had to make adjustments during production."

Pictures of the Beijing rubber duck showed it listing to the right, revealing its bottom and exposing a floating stage that kept the rubber duck stable on the water.

However, the floating stage was hidden beneath the water line in the Hong Kong version, said Chan.

Entrance fees of 100 yuan (HK$125) in the Beijing Garden Expo Park and 30 yuan to Summer Palace to see the rubber duck in Beijing also drew criticism, and appear to run counter to Hofman's philosophy on public art.

"First, it must always be shown to the general public ... it's not for private [use]," Hofman told the South China Morning Post in May. He even rejected requests to house the duck at a museum in Japan.

The rubber duck exhibition in Hong Kong was free and was seen by tens of thousands of people. Hofman could not be reached for comment on the Beijing version.

"The rubber duck was not fully inflated on Thursday night for safety concerns, as the weather was pretty rough with thunder and lightning," said Zhang Daping, publicity director of the Beijing International Design Week Organising Committee.

"Its manufacture strictly followed the artist's specifications, so there is no difference to the one in Hong Kong."