Q Do you feel that Chinese people are opting for Western design and neglecting their own?
A Yes and No -Yes:the major cities in China are filling up with shopping malls promoting Western Brand product (Prada, Louis Vuitton, Nike, etc) and increasingly, dressing "western" is a sure & effortless way to establish prestige and status. Using English in labels on clothing, signage and packaging is on the rise too. -No:very few people consuming the "western" design understand it as such. For them, it is simply a new aesthetic, a fresh, modern way of looking at the world and distinguishing themselves from the Old Period - their parents, Old China, etc As such, this "new style" could simply be a trend, subject to change.
Q Do you feel product, architecture and interior designs are becoming important in establishing personal identity in China? A Consumption is one of the key avenues of self expression in China, and it is translated in taste and design.
Q Is there any statistical data that shows which provinces in China have the highest rate of Chinese people moving to the urban areas in the past few years? A Guangdong - Guangzhou, Beijing - Sha'anxi, Shandong, Yunnan
Q Are there any elements that China designers think is missing in terms of home design? A Her sense is that the problem is a universal one, how to produce a product that improves quality of life and sells well.
Q What is the style of furniture that China's middle class typically purchase/use in the urban cities? A The furniture she saw was either very traditional, lacquered Ming Style, or a minimalist version of the traditional Chinese stype. Very few people were using Ikea-type, minimalist furniture with metal frames, etc.
Q How do Chinese people feel about locally made products for the Chinese market? A Consumers are still VERY price conscious, and appreciate locally-made products for "expensive" durable items like furniture. Cars seem to be the exception to this rule.
Q Why? A Chinese appreciate a high quality/price ratio, a bargain will win over brand prestige except for high vanity and relatively affordable items like electronics and accessories, perfumes & imported alcohol. Again, the automobile seems to be the exception.
Q What kinds of products are currently sold that have a strong traditional Chinese aesthetic embedded in them? A Items that tie the old China to the new, ie., gifts for family, gifts for traditional events like funerals and weddings
Q How does the Chinese middle class feel about traditional furniture compared to cheaply made mass produced furniture? Do Chinese people traditional furniture as being antique as opposed to a luxury product? A The middle class people She met has generally had good traditional style furniture in their hosting area (living room). The kitchen and offices tended to have more inexpensive, functional pieces. She noticed that few people collected furniture as antiques, the selection generally felt purely functional.
Q The Chinese have a strong cultural identity, how do they present it in products that are made for the local market? A She saw a lot of exploration of the Chinese cultural identity intersecting with western modernist principles in furniture, jewellery and product design in the universities. Less so in stores and marketplace and She's not sure the public and client (product purchasers) are ready for a new fused aesthetic yet.
For this week, I will propose my design brief and sketches to 2 persons that my NFP recommended. Hopefully, they will critique my thesis and provide me with feedbacks.