Text by Yong Mi
Following its successful participation in the 2012 Salone del Mobile which culminated in the establishment of a partnership with Milan Design Week, Beijing Design Week (BJDW) returned to the exhibition space of Ex-Ansaldo in Zona Tortona with an unprecedented presentation of both displays and events, including A Taste of China: Design Around the Table, an exhibition conceived by Zhu Zheqin (a.k.a. Dadawa), a well-known Chinese artist and goodwill ambassador for the protection and development of Chinese national culture.
The exhibition from April 9 to 14 showcased the work of 11 renowned architects and designers from China’s mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, attracting 100,000 visitors from every corner of the planet. The show was divided into four sections: In the Family, Domestic Comfort, Tea Stories, and Cups, Bowls, Pots and Flasks. Navigating each area feels like walking through a private home or the lobby of a fancy restaurant. Even the design for a sidewalk cafe was highlighted by vintage icons of the 1930s and 40s, arranged by Alan Chan, a famous designer from Hong Kong. The presentation was part of a thematic journey inspired by the richness of food culture, dining etiquette, and the social complexity of food-related rituals in China.
Eating and drinking were the entry points of the exhibition, displaying the dramatic changes in the culture of urban China through novel designs for housing, daily products, and living environments.
The exhibition was installed by Milan-based studio dotdotdot. Contextualizing Chinese elements not only injected festivity, but also alluded to how contemporary lifestyles, trends and stylistic choices are influenced by changing traditional habits, both in private and public realms.
“Our several months of preparation efforts are paying off,” grinned Dadawa. “We wanted to display the latest designs - practical, cool, and fashionable - on this stage, to disseminate and fuel Chinese aesthetics and conceptual voices.”
Bi Yue, curator of the exhibition, explained the concept of the campaign. “Many Chinese designers have suggested we focus on ’China and design’ instead of ’Chinese design,’ - a substantial difference in a global context,” he illustrated. “I believe that the world will be inspired by the vigor and confidence of the younger generation of Chinese designers.”