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Designing a creative future

Date: 2012-09-24

Chinese designers' works are showcased at Guangdong  Industrial Design  City's pavilion at London's 100% Design in Earls Court Exhibition Centre. Provided  toChinaDaily

A new wave of innovative Chinese design and creativecultural industry development has taken shape in the international spotlight.

Showcasing at the LondonDesign Festival's commercial cornerstone event 100% Design at the Earls CourtExhibition Centre are the works of about 40 Chinese designers, ranging fromsimple furniture to clean-tech appliances.

"Chinese designers can create great products bycombining Western concepts with Chinese tradition," says Li Yuanwei,design director of the Shenzhen-based Newplan Design.

"Elements of Chinese tradition are not necessarilyobservable in their works but influence their ways of thinking."

Li brought to the festival his "ButterflyLamp", which is an LED lamp with two rectangular lighting panels shapedlike butterfly wings. The light can be turned on and off remotely, usingsensors.

"LED lights are already widely accepted in the West,but I've taken the concept to China and given it a twist, which makes the endproduct attractive for younger and more fashionable customers," Liexplains.

Another exhibitor is Shenzhen CIGA Design chairman ZhangJianmin, who brought to the festival his "solar candle" - acube-shaped plastic candle powered by a solar panel.

"These candles are not just technologicallyinnovative, as they are literally zero-carbon products, but also they make ourcustomers' lives easier in practical ways," he explains. "Forexample, children can play with them without any fire risk."

These Chinese exhibitors' works appeared in two largepavilions. The first is hosted by Guangdong Industrial Design City (GIDC), a design hubthat accommodates about 600 designers. The second is the Shenzhen IndustrialDesign Profession Association, which has 500 member companies.

Both companies hope to use the exhibition to attractinternational design enterprises to commercially or technologically cooperatewith their Chinese member designers.

"We are keen to invite foreign designers to come toour hub and communicate with our designers because communication will spark newideas," GIDC deputy director HaywardCai says.

"Western designs have more mature technology andconcepts, which is something we need to learn."

The two pavilions have won great acclaim from 100%Design's show director William Knight.

"Chinese design is very special," Knight says.

"It's interesting to see how it evolved through timein response to such a large consumer market."

Besides the pavilions and shows, Wuxi,a wealthy city fromChina's Jiangsu province, also staged the Creative Wuxi event in Londonlast week. Creative Wuxiwas intended to make introductions, seek business opportunities and expound onthe city's creative and cultural industries, organizers say.

A display of 31 pieces of Wuxi porcelain highlighted local beauty andinnovation.

The city accounts for 36 percent ofChina'semerging cultural and creative industries and is beginning to attract overseasattention. It's active in film, television, creative design, digitalpublishing, cultural tourism, advertising, online animation, performing artsand cultural heritage development.

Despite the strides ofChina's design sector and creativeindustry, Knight points out the challenge of turning great designs into viablecommercial products.

"There is a great desire in China to create moreproducts for the market, but one needs to think about if an additional productis really a new design or just the same design with a different element orcolor," he says.

He believes globalization is the way forward forChina's designindustry.

"A classic example is Italian suits," he says."Everyone in the world wants to own an Italian suit. So, when everyone inthe world wants to own a Chinese thing, Chinese design would have succeeded."