Design & Living



The Exhibition ©️ Design Society

The Exhibition ©️ Design Society


Initiated and curated by Design Society, Values of Design: China in the Making is a permanent exhibition at the Sea World Culture and Arts Center. The exhibition has shifted the lens to focus on design developments in China, to explore the changing design landscape in the country over the past one hundred years, and proposed jointly with the city of Shenzhen on seeking the "sustainability of value in designs".
Values of Design: China in the Making
Values of Design: China in the Making showcases 138 works organized into six sections: Patterns of Design, Problem Solving, Shaping Materials, Identity and Consumption, Enhancing Communication, and Negotiating Cost. Within these sections, the exhibition tackles diverse themes, including industrial design, digitalization, production, consumption, urban planning, and sustainability. These diverse designs are also realizations of innovative concepts, fashion and cultural thinking in various sectors.
The concept of sustainability is best reflected in the Problem Solving and Shaping Materials sections. Designs made of recycled materials on showinclude Recycled China by Jeffery Stephen Miller and Thomas Schmidt, and 24 Bag by HowBottle. Technical and material innovation and sustainable representation of digitalization can be found in an artwork – Printed DAI Pottery (3D printing) by Tao Yijin – as well as in Virtual Landscape by Yang Jieming loaned from Yang House (new material). Finally, sustainability- themed visual works that you should not miss are The Sustainability Issue (documentary) by Tang An in collaboration with The Unreasonable, and HOPE (poster design) by He Jianping.
Using exhibits and cases from an array of design domains, the exhibition gives play to the humanistic care and social value in "designing".
In the domain of industrial design, Values of Design showcases designs mainly in the areas of home, products and vehicles. Mobike Furniture is a set of five accessories – chairs, coffee tables, candlesticks, vertical lights, and a desktop rack – designed and made from discarded parts recycled from the bicycles provided by Mobike, a bicycle-sharing service provider. The work showcases the full life cycle of how Mobike was made from raw materials and again from scrap to useful furniture. Mobike Furniture is an ideal representation of reusing the recycled products. As a new approach of resource management, full life cycle management is the necessary way to go in order to realize a circular economy and is a key factor in sustainable development.
Mobike Furniture, YUUE Design Studio (Germany), 2019 ©️Design Society
In terms of environmental design, architecture designs are a dominating theme. Rebirth Brick , by Jiakun Architects, displays the reconstructed bricks from the rubble of an earthquake, mixed with wheat stalks and cement and formed into briquettes to be used to build and reconstruct the damaged areas. The Rebirth Brick Project began in 2008 after the earthquake in Wenchuan. It is a rebirth of the material, as well as an emotional encouragement for the rebirth of the community and is intended to represent the spiritual rebirth of those who have suffered. Environmental and sustainability issues caused by increasing natural disasters are inevitable tasks for architects to tackle. Reusing materials,as in this case, is one solution in the environmental domain. But regarding architecture, construction costs, and the environment-human relationship, we need to come up with more solutions.
Rebirth Brick, Jiakun Architects (China), 2008 ©️Design Society
In fashion design, the “I DO CARE” Coat by HowBottle is made from 13 recycled PET bottles. On the back of the coat are the words “I DON’T CARE”, which turn into “I DO CARE” when the coat is wet. The transformation leads itself to further interpretation regarding personal choices – to care or not to care. The coat package is a reusable sling bag. Overall, the serial design follows closely the concept of "Leave No Trace" as a call-out to every one of us to mitigate damage to the environment as much as possible. The Care Coat is a good example of “designing for design to generate a design”, where the purpose of promoting environmental protection is well served through recycling PET bottles and producing a design product that “advocates sustainable development” through the design itself.
“I DO CARE" Coat, HowBottles (China), 2019 ©️Design Society
The visual communication works shown are predominantly advertisements and videos. My personal favorite is No Place to Place, a photography work by Wu Guoyong. Capturing China’s massive shared-bike graveyards, this work finds an angle on over-production and irrational social planning issues, revealing the changing relationships between history and social orders, and between history and environmental structure. Fads will end, and orders are being restructured, but it should be realized that history cannot be turned back, and the ecology will not be fully restored once damaged.
It’s worth noting that social design, a new mechanism design emerging in the modern social environment, has been expanded to different domains. Social designs typically mean the "sustainable solution plans" made by social enterprises on certain social issues, including the rich-and-poor gap, ecological damage, world energy, disaster relief and poverty alleviation. They are not driven by technology nor profit, but rather out of a goal of seeking future development for the society.
图片Printed Pottery (3D printing) by Huo Yijin ©️Design Society
Design Education: Drive of the City of Design
From a historical perspective, Shenzhen itself has been realized from a design, a city design, amid the miracles of China’s reform and opening up.
"Shenzhen Design" has driven the development of the city. It’s a young city but already a leader in design. Starting out as the world’s factory, to the upgrading of its manufacturing, and finally to a city of innovation, "Shenzhen Design" have played a pivotal role. "Independent Innovation" has been positioned as a key strategy for the city’s development, where design and creation lie at the heart of an innovation-driven economy in Shenzhen. Thanks to the power of design, "Shenzhen Design" has flourished into a towering tree. Now, the design industry in Shenzhen has an overall output exceeding 30 billion yuan, which further drives lower-stream industrial output by more than 100 billion yuan, qualifying the city as a City of Design in every possible way.
"City of Design" needs design education. Shenzhen is one of four key engines of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. As the local design industry has fueled the miraculous development of the city, design education is a key driver for "strong sustainable development" of "Shenzhen Design".
In the age of the Greater Bay Area, the design industry will support the city in enhancing its core function as a growth engine and will also play a role in realizing a new regional coordinated, innovative community. These initiatives can begin with design education. In accordance with the planning of the higher education demonstration zone in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Shenzhen’s target is to build a certain number of world-leading universities and contribute significant educational outcomes to world technologies and human civilization by 2035. To realize this, design education will play a big part–after all, as “the principles of all things are sustained in the mind”, education is a crucial long-term task for nurturing the "mind". Only when the "mind" is mature will the "things" be turned into an ever-lasting gem of human civilization.


Text/ Lin Qingchi, Sun Qijie