Chinese design gets a London landing

Can design cities learn from one another? This is the quandary being tested at ‘Design to Wonderland’, an installation presented by Shanghai Design Week at London Design Festival.

“Shanghai’s design scene has evolved into a thriving ecosystem that reflects the city’s unique blend of tradition and modernity,” says the curatorial team for the group show, made up of Wang Yiyang, Song Zeying, Ling Chen and Gao Yuan. ‘Design to Wonderland’, celebrates collaboration and explores design empowerment in Shanghai; from sustainable thinking to innovative making, retail experiences and cultural aesthetics.

In 2010, the city of Shanghai joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, as a City of Design. This moment was a springboard for the promotion of design in the region. Fast-forward 13 years, this London opening is a collaboration that “will provide a window for audiences to observe the trends and dynamic changes of Chinese design”, explains the team. The event hopes to open the discussion of the role of design as a driver in the consumer goods industry. To do so, they have separated the exhibition into three sections – ‘FRESH’, ‘D STAND’ and ‘DONGXI’ – plus a special showcase of sustainable innovations from Shanghai Fashion Week.

“Despite the differences in market demand between East and West, ‘how to live better’ is a concern for everyone,” says the curatorial team. “Design power is providing a sustainable innovation driving force for industrial innovation, quality of life improvement, and urban and social development.” From circular beauty to packaging design, the exhibition will look at design in the context of inclusivity and innovation in the city of Shanghai. Here, we explore the three curated spaces of ‘Design to Wonderland’.

‘鲜地 FRESH’, curated by PLANTAGRAM

This section investigates sustainable design, in particular fresh ideas and technologies. Realised by Song Zeying, founder of PLANTAGRAM, a innovation-led design studio based in Shanghai, the installation will be made of recycled materials and created as a ‘mini warehouse’ for visitors to delve into the concepts.

‘设集 D STAND’, curated by SLT

Brand and retail experiences will be spotlighted here. Led by Ling Chen – founder of Something Like That (SLT), a studio that works across retail design, architectural design, brand vision and strategy – the curatorial approach was one that aligned with traditional Chinese philosophy. “The design presents a coherent sense of flow... conveying China’s brand globalisation.”

‘东西 DONGXI’, curated by COMO

Artisanship is at the heart of the final part of the show. ‘DONGXI’ is curated by Gao Yuan, founder of COMO, a studio that specialises in digital content creation. Here, COMO brings to life Eastern aesthetics and the philosophy of “the concept of oneness betweens self and objects, suggesting an intrinsic connection between them”.