The debut of new Beijing Design Week venue Caochangdi brings fresh ideas on conventional notions of design and society, Lim Sio Hui reports.
15 October, 2012
Brand new for this year’s Beijing Design Week was the far-flung fringe site of Caochangdi (CCD), a sleepier sister to the established arts villages of 798 and 751, and best known for being home to influential artist Ai Wei Wei. Curated by Bao Atelier under the programme of CCD – The Community 2012, the exhibits were scattered across austere red brick blocks designed by Wei Wei, unlikely factory buildings, and even a converted greenhouse, adding the thrill of exploration to the host of projects on show.
I Am Monument
Bao Atelier co-founder and rising Chinese product designer Naihan Li presented I Am A Monument, a collection that throws the spotlight on iconic architecture, made more accessible in miniature as furnishings such as a bed modelled after the Pentagon, and replicas of skyscrapers made as candles.
Craft & Industry
Thoughtful, research-backed works by locally-based designers characterised many exhibits at Caochangdi. Dutch designer Henny van Nistelrooy’s Craft & Industry gave new ideas on the application of woven textiles in furniture, one example being in mass produced lampshades that utilised an entire length of fabric with minimal wastage.
With Blinking City (top image), Italian designers Marcella Campa and Stefano Avesani of Instant Hutong drew attention to Beijing’s disappearing neighbourhoods by showcasing lenticular maps that faded away or changed colours as you walked by.
Similarly, Micro Macro presented Con-tradition, a collection reinterpreting Chinese furniture archetypes in contemporary steel, concrete and glass: its striking yet function-impaired forms a statement against how the country’s heritage is rapidly being stripped away in the pursuit of modernity.
The Real Network
CCD’s thematic framework delved into the unexplored territory between online and offline realities, with eye-opening results. Brainchild of Italian cultural entreprise Esterni and realised by didelidi together with Mira Mira studio, The Real Network hooked visitors up with tools such as sticky notes and balloons to leave real-life comments and geotags just like in online social networks, while a roving photo booth indulged their desire for capturing moments on the CCD trail.
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