The Graduates 001 is a first of its kind platform in China to showcase and develop outstanding industrial design graduates. Lim Sio Hui reports.
1 November, 2012
Shanghai Design Week runs from 1 to 7 November this year, tying together diverse city-backed initiatives which include the launch of Shanghai D-Map (a design map of the city’s 100 design landmarks), the Finnish creative show Radical Design Week 2012 (created in conjunction with World Design Capital Helsinki 2012), and The Graduates 001 (a show focused on works from recent industrial design graduates in China).
“Many students lose their chance to become a designer after graduation,” comments curator Li Jun, who set up the show to encourage the growth of a design language that reflects the country. “To be honest, the identity of Chinese design hasn’t been established yet, and these students may play the key role.”
Put together by Li Jun with fellow curator Ma Qing and art director Zhu Minqi, the multifaceted show is composed of graduate prototype exhibits and video interviews aimed at providing an in-depth understanding of their design ideas, as well as workshops in 3D printing and re-design for young designers, guided by local veterans like Dai Di, Liu Yi, Nicole Teng and Dodo Gu.
“Gas Assembled Chair” by Shen Hong
From the 40 over designers on show, Li Jun picks standouts such as Fudan University graduate Shen Hong, who will be showing “Gas Assembled Chair”, an environmentally conscious concept that mends and updates broken wooden chairs with gas-filled bags, offering a softer comfort in line with modern seating design.
“Wood Attack” by Xue Wenjing
Another highlight is Xue Wenjing’s “Wood Attack”, a collection of interactive pieces that brings out the hidden beauty and complexity of structural joints in traditional Chinese wooden furniture.
Thoreau chair by Tsai Tien
“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.” Inspired by this saying from American scholar Henry David Thoreau, graduate designer Tsai Tien designed the Thoreau chair, breaking down the archetypal armchair into three seats that can be put together or taken apart when needed.
Also exploring the relationship between furniture and user is Du Kewei’s “Sitting That Doesn’t Look Like Sitting” (top image), a seat made from stretched velvet and steel pipes, that challenges our preconceived notions of a chair through its unusual, net-like form.
These works offer an insight into an emerging style that is open and not limited to the traditional Chinese design language, says the curator. “Maybe it’s because this is a generation growing up with influences of western culture. And the Internet age also helps them know almost anything in the world. What’s more, their families are relatively wealthier, and allow them to have more freedom in thinking and designing.”
Li Jun goes on to note: “They care much about emotions, the social environment and living situations, and take those concerns into their designs. Their works are humane in addition to functional.”
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