New China Fusion: Chinese Designers to Watch
We highlight the top ten finalists of the AD Emerging Chinese Designer award at this year’s edition of Design Shanghai
The fifth iteration of the AD Emerging Chinese Designer Platform took place at Design Shanghai earlier this year. Under the theme New China Fusion, ten of the country’s most exciting designers presented pieces ‘uniquely Chinese in nature yet global in outlook’.
The winner of this year’s Emerging Chinese Designer award, ABOVE Studio was founded in 2017 by Chinese designers Lu Xu and Zihan Zhang, and was based in Providence before its recent relocation to Hangzhou.
The studio designs and manufactures furniture and objects that explore the balance between emotional expression and the beauty of nature. The Spoon chair and Lotus table combine modern production techniques with traditional handmade woodcraft, while the stainless steel 15° Chair is inspired by Ming-style seating.
Look out for our interview with Xu and Zhang in issue 21 of Design Anthology.
Using traditional metal weaving techniques, Chen Shangyi transforms our perception of metal with her delicate lights and vessels that appear to be made from soft fabric. ‘One piece of work requires thousands of repeated weaving moves, requiring the producer to have great patience to complete. Every stitch is a practice, and each piece is unique,’ she says.
Foam Studio’s founder Tianyi Shi draws inspiration from foam and the opportunities for combining it with other materials to create new objects. With the Inside Out series of sofas and chairs, the designer playfully deconstructs furniture and upholstery to highlight the often-hidden textures and colours of foam.
Formed in 2017 by Chinese-Canadian duo Stein Wang and Topher Kong, Hi Thanks Bye is an interdisciplinary design studio based in Toronto. For Design Shanghai’s Emerging Designers competition they exhibited their first collection, the minimalist and sculptural Collection O, which led to a Rising Star Award nomination at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in February 2018, and elsewhere in the fair debuted Be My Guest, their latest collection of inspired by the revived art of home entertaining.
Zhu Yaowen, Guan Xiang and Zhuo Yizhe founded HOII Design just last year in Shanghai. The trio’s collective disciplines span product, furniture and interior design, installation art, brand strategy and art direction, and they pride themselves on their ability to work in a variety of styles and beyond the confines of rigid design principles. This year HOII Design exhibited the Phi table, chair and stool, which all featured semi-circular and two-toned details.
Chengdu-born designer Huang Jin studied at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts before returning to her home town, where she now lives and works. With an appreciation for the handmade and a desire to experiment with new materials, Jing aims to create objects that carry stories and emotions. At Design Shanghai, she exhibited a series of bamboo lamps, the elasticity of the material giving way to elegant forms that appear to twist and pop.
As the homeware studio of innovative product design studio Mutto Group, mutuopia seeks to bridge the gaps between innovation and heritage, form and application, and advanced manufacturing and traditional craftsmanship – a mission conveyed succinctly in their Fireworks collection exhibited this year.
Re:studio is an eco-design project that, through extensive research and experimentation, creates objects solely from recycled materials. In the Repaper and Replastic collections, plastic and paper waste is turned into terrazzo-like surfaces and home accessories.
THESHAW was founded by Shaw Liu in 2017, and the studio combines material and craftsmanship to create minimalist objects that are heavily influenced by Liu’s understanding of spiritual and religious elements. The play of steel, glass, mirror and light in the Sanctuary series of arc-shaped lamps presents ever-changing perspectives, and reflects the studio’s signature fusion of spatial and three-dimensional elements.
Stockholm-based designer Qian Jiang established Studio Dejawu in 2015, and he has since been creating furniture, products and art based on the concepts of familiarity, honesty and timelessness. At Design Shanghai, Jiang exhibited a set of stackable brass candle holders, oak and cast zinc furniture and an aluminium tape dispenser, the surprising forms of each adding a sense of the unfamiliar to everyday objects.
Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Courtesy of Design Shanghai