18 May 2024, 13:43
By Furniture News Mar 01, 2016

Fair Comment: Design Shanghai

Fair Comment sees Furniture News quiz the people behind the scenes to discover what makes their exhibition unique, what changes are taking place, and why buyers from the UK and ROI should take note. In this article, Ross Urwin and Darrel Best, the creative directors of Design Shanghai, with the help of Mike Dynan and Aidan Walker, outline their offer …

Identity: Design Shanghai is Asia’s leading international design event, breaking new ground and setting a precedent in China’s ever-growing design community. It showcases the best design brands from across the globe.

Attendance: In 2015 the show welcomed over 40,000 visitors to the four-day event. Design Shanghai 2016 is expected to welcome more than 42,000 visitors. The 2015 event featured designs from over 300 participating brands and some of the world’s top galleries. In 2016 we expect 350 exhibitors.

The number of Chinese designers participating is constantly increasing. As a result, around 50% of the exhibitors at this year’s event will be local designers, including established names and emerging talents.

The growth in the number of Chinese brands taking part in the event is not only indicative of the flourishing Chinese industry but also of Design Shanghai’s commitment to supporting the local design sector.

What’s new? In 2016 we will present various installations, including Lasvit’s interactive light installation Supernova, and Swarovski’s Zotem, launched at the Victoria & Albert Museum during the London Design Festival 2015.

Xintiandi, which joins us as Collectible Design Hall sponsor this year, has invited designers from home and abroad to set up two cutting-edge design installations in the quarter’s newly-launched shopping centre, The House, ahead of Design Shanghai’s opening.

Jamy Yang will also be presenting the New Craftsmanship by Yang House installation, which encourages the audience to rediscover traditional handcrafted goods and to reflect on how Chinese tradition can blend with modern aesthetics and lifestyle. These bespoke features and creative energy are key to the visitors’ experience and the show’s success.

Direction? Recent figures show that the number of interior designers in mainland China has increased to 600,000, while the number of creative studios, including architecture practices, interior design companies and property development firms, has risen to 200,000. The total number of practitioners stands at over 10 million.

The incredible growth of China’s creative sectors – and design in particular – is one of the main factors influencing the direction of the show. This is manifested through the increasing number of local exhibitors as well as bespoke features, initiatives and installations by local brands and creatives.

“The incredible growth of China’s creative sectors – and design in particular – is one of the main factors influencing the direction of the show”

Furthermore, the demand for quality furniture brands is ever increasing as more and more Chinese enter the property market and cities grow at such a fast pace.

In tandem with this, we have witnessed an increased interest in the Chinese market, confirmed by a number of high-profile international exhibitors as well as influential cultural exchange events that have taken place in recent years around the world, such as the first-ever UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange, celebrated in 2015. 

The aim of Design Shanghai is to create a platform for local and international creatives and brands to collaborate and do business, as well as to promote the development of open dialogues between different countries, sectors and disciplines.

Does the show support visitors with a hosted buyer programme, or have any accommodation/travel recommendations?
Event director Mike Dynan comments: “In order to enhance the visitor experience throughout the show, and to help benefit the exhibitors’ projects/businesses, we are planning a matchmaking programme to introduce the right exhibitors to the right visitors pre-show. We will also offer the business lounge for exhibitors to host meetings with their clients during the four-day show.

“Furthermore, we partner with the local government’s Shanghai Promotion Centre for City of Design to host one-to-one business advice sessions for companies that want to establish business overseas.

“Meanwhile, UK Trade and Investment, the Consulate-General of Sweden in Shanghai and the Danish Consulate-General in Shanghai will also help the brands from their countries to expand their businesses in China. We are also talking with more government bodies to provide further business support to our exhibitors.

“Beyond the exhibition, we will host a series of evening events in partnership with the local design community for exhibitors, retailers, dealers, buyers and designers to network. The events include the Dealers Night at JSWB, Designers Night at Design Republic, and the Designers Dinner at Xintiandi.

“For travel and accommodation recommendations, we have partnered with several local hotels, including Hilton Shanghai, Onehome Art Hotel, Jinjiang Hotel. We wish both exhibitors and visitors a wonderful experience at Design Shanghai.”

Design Shanghai is organised by Media 10 – has the show been able to draw upon any of the company’s UK-based events, or vice versa?
Mike comments: “Media 10 has a very strong background in the design industry in the UK. Every year, we organise several leading design events there including 100% Design, Clerkenwell Design Week, Grand Designs Live, Icon Design Trail, Icon Design Awards and Decoration Awards.

“Media 10’s reputation comes from the high quality and the calibre of events. For years, we have established a wide and firm connection within the design industry. Our clients and partners are willing to support us wherever we are in the world.

“It was because of this kind of commitment that we successfully launched the first-ever Design Shanghai in China – 42.6% of the exhibitors were from our design events in the UK.

“Media 10 are the first people to put such a successful international design show in Shanghai. Meanwhile, it has always been our intention to bring great Chinese designs and Asian designs back to Europe and to introduce them to the world.

“We collaborated with AD China magazine to initiate the Emerging Chinese Young Designers Award to support young Chinese designers at Design Shanghai 2015. Design Shanghai will give the winner a free stand in the following year to showcase their designs. It now becomes an annual event to discover and encourage local, young designers in China.

“100% Design 2015 selected the top 10 local design brands from Design Shanghai, and presented them during London Design Festival. This year, we will also have China’s local high-end design brand Tiandi exhibiting at Media 10’s newly-launched event, Luxury Made.”

How does the show attempt to overcome the objection that Chinese design is not yet mature enough to appeal to a global audience?
Over the last few decades the Asia Pacific region has been seen primarily as a manufacturing destination, and not one to discover design and innovation. This, however, is a misconception. Not only does China and the greater territory have a rich history of invention and ingenuity, but their recent, rapid modernisation has seen the development of a renaissance of design and innovation. 

China’s design pedigree is as relevant and important as any international creative hub. The Design Shanghai team champions this and believes it essential to include a creative powerhouse like China within the global design community.

Why might potential exhibitors take note of Design Shanghai?
Design Shanghai provides a unique and exciting platform to network and establish long-term business relations with Asia’s top architects, interior designers, property developers, retailers and private buyers. For local designers, the event is a great opportunity to put their products in front of an ever-growing international audience, as well as to network and create partnerships with leading foreign brands.

Why is Design Shanghai better than its competitors?
Design Shanghai is setting the standards for other design and art events in the region. The event balances both the creative and the commercial elements, not only establishing a solid business platform but also a springboard for creative expression and debate.

We have had the opportunity to bring installations never seen before in Shanghai and China – including an original Jean Prouvé House sponsored by Bally – and feature them alongside features developed by Shanghai-based creatives.

“China’s design pedigree is as relevant and important as any international creative hub”

Over the last two years, we had some of most renowned designers of this generation launch new collections and take part in our seminar programme. In 2015 our team launched a new initiative in collaboration with one of China’s leading lifestyle publications – The Design Shanghai & Architectural Digest Emerging Chinese Designer platform.

This platform actively seeks and supports new design talent from the region, giving designers the opportunity to showcase their work to the 40,000-plus visitors of Design Shanghai. This support and promotion of home-grown and emerging talent is a key ethos of Design Shanghai.

Anything else? At Design Shanghai the world’s leading designers, architects, curators and inventors gather over the four days to discuss their experiences and influences during an international series of talks and debates, the Design Forum.

The sessions will explore how design, while being rooted – like a language – in the local culture and history, can engage in a dialogue with other disciplines and countries. The forum will bring together highly influential designers and creative minds from China and elsewhere internationally to explore the rapidly changing design industry.

We are also extremely excited about the calibre of exhibitors who have signed up for 2016. Brad and Janis Provisor, the artists behind the amazing rug brand from New York’s Fort Street Studio, are returning and plan to exhibit a new collection they have just finished designing. The line is based on iconic shapes, drawn lines, and simple clear colours in either primary or black and white, all employing interesting and different weaving techniques.

Frank Chou, who exhibited for the first time in 2015, will return, and we are eager to see what new pieces this young Chinese designer has in store. He collaborates with some major international brands to create stunning pieces.

The winner of the first Emerging Chinese designer platform to be held at Design Shanghai will be returning to exhibit his first collection. Design Shanghai awarded Furong Chen with a free exhibition stand as part of the prize, and as we have been mentoring this new designer over the past 10 months – we are especially excited about what he has produced.

Other favourites are: Beyond Object from the UK and its lifestyle accessories; Hay, which is doing some impressive partnerships with its collections; Domus Tiandi, which has an amazing eye for curating modern brands in China; and George Smith upholstery, an old favourite from London, which will be exhibiting for the first time.

Aidan Walker, Design Forum’s programme director, adds: “In 2015, Jaime Hayon, Aric Levy, Marcel Wanders and Neri & Hu, amongst others, explored the theme Transition and Transformation within the context of design, architecture and art. The response was incredibly positive. The theme chosen for the 2016 conference programme is the Language of Design.

“This year’s edition will welcome some of the key figures in the growing ‘maker movement’, which introduces a completely new collaborative approach to design and manufacturing, and also famous names, both Chinese and Western, whose work takes cues from the new demands of the digital era.

“Speakers include international designers Benjamin Hubert, Matthew Hilton and Johannes Torpe as well as Dadawa, curator of Kanjian Creation, Triennale Design Museum, designer Jamy Yang, and Cesar Harada, director of Hong Kong-based MakerBay, to name just a few.”

Design Shanghai runs from 9-12th March 2016 at Shanghai Exhibition Centre.

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