I would like to share a brief summary of an article called “What is China Design” that I read from Urbane. I thought this article is very inspiring which allows me to further expand my thesis topic.
Zhang Hongxing, an expert on Chinese painting and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum’s co-curator, he says people started to see that art and design are able to change their lives and there was a turning point for Chinese society, because it began not only paying attention to physical living conditions, but also the quality of life and culture. He explained that everybody has their period of liking trendy goods, looking to be middle-class. But after you understand the so-called middle-class culture, you discover it’s boring and you want a change.
Ma Yansong, the founder of architectural office MAD, says Chinese designers are not quite ready for the China’s design industry, they haven’t had the confidence to promote their own culture through Chinese design. The country is working on the economy-business and marketing first, but culture takes time. He thinks building up a new cultural attitude is more important than building up a new architectural style, the way your work can influence the design community and the public is what China should be approaching now.
Ou Ning, a graphic designer, agrees that he has not seen any design or visual products that are very Chinese, he thinks only contemporary art can say that it is very Chinese, but in other design or visual works you cannot see a distinctive ‘Chinese-ness’ in it. He hopes Chinese designers should be aware of this issue and encourages them to understand “What is a Chinese style”.
Architect Wu Ting feels that speed is a very important characteristic for Chinese design, not just in terms of economy or urbanization, but designers themselves; they force themselves to finish a certain project in a short period of time. In one of his experiences, he made a presentation for the initial concept of an exhibition center on the day before Chinese New year, and they now want to finish building it before June. This shows the result of the pressure to not willing to spend time and explore the design, and that’s the reason why a lot of design looks like it has just been copied from Western design.
Another architect Zhu Pei thinks Chinese architects are trying to create a “Chinese style” by simply poaching traditional decorative elements and rearranging them. He believes Chinese architects / designers should explore something based on the contemporary position, not just borrow certain features from traditional elements. The future of Chinese architect / designer should have its own character based on its own contemporary culture, instead of following the Western cultural system. Design is a way for them to express themselves, their own identity, their aspirations and their lives are changing so fast on an individual level.