“If there is one thing that can be gleaned from the graduate shows and design fairs held each year around Europe, it is how difficult it is for a designer to break free from the influence of the 20th century. But at the inaugural Beijing Design Festival last October there was a striking difference. While many of the Chinese designers on show did indeed look to the past for inspiration, their reference points were not the likes of Eames and Sottsass, figures who dominate Western design’s recent history. Instead they looked far closer to home, reworking distinctly Chinese ideas and motifs that date from as far back as the 10th century and earlier. Philosophical schools of thought, dynastic traditions and concepts such as ‘the propriety of sitting’ were all reinterpreted in modern furniture designs”. Continue reading.
Off Canvas x Nod Young
“In support of Beijing Design Week 2011, Converse presented Off Canvas, a street-level exhibition of typography design that canvassed the capital city in obscure places that mark China’s thriving creative subcultures. Presenting work from international and local artists notorious for their artistry of words, and spanning the diverse worlds of graphic design, art and graffiti, the installations revealed communities where China’s emerging scenes in indie music, art, fashion and skate are based”.
Pictured is Nod Young’s mural on MAO Livehouse, Beijing. See more.
Beijing Design Week Highlights
My plan today was to post a short photo summary of the best bits of Beijing Design Week (better late than never). That is until Monica Khemsurov sent me a link to her blog, Sight Unseen, where she’s documented her own experiences of both Beijing and Design Week. Fun, witty and told from a fresh perspective, Monica explains it way better than I would have been able to. Read the review.
Water Calligraphy Device
Devised by friend and media artist, Nicholas Hanna, Water Calligraphy Device reinterprets the Chinese tradition of water calligraphy - using a large brush and water (instead of ink) to write Chinese characters in public spaces - by transforming a tricycle into a poetry-writing device. Read more via designboom, or watch a video (shot by the equally amazing Jonah Kessel) on Danwei.
Chinese Stuff - Pursuit of Cultural Identities of Contemporaneous Articles in Common Use is an exhibition based on a book of the same name by Popcorn. The 120 items on show provide a great insight into the visual aesthetics behind everyday Chinese objects and prompt audiences to reflect on contemporary China’s cultural identity. Highly recommended.
Chinese Stuff is currently on show at the newly-opened Liangdian Design Center, Beijing (94 Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng District 东城区东四十条94号) until 18 Oct.
Beijing Design Week 2011 Creative Director, Aric Chen, discusses China’s creative talent, “the misconceptions about copying and censorship, and why Beijing is poised to become a design destination” via The Moment, NYT.