Probably the best exhibition I have been to date!! Highly recommend anybody that has an interest in our eastern friends and design go and see it. It’s at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London from15th March – 13th July 2008.
There are 3 sections to the exhibition, my person favourite was definitely Shenzhen the Frontier City. Thirty years ado it was no more than a cluster of fishing villages, but in 1980 China’s new reform turned these villages into the country’s first Special Economic Zone, the world’s largest manufacturing centre. Today it is the newest city in china, with an average age of 27!
Shenzhen is the birthplace of Chinese graphic design, (also something I did not know, that I probably should of as a designer is the Chinese invented paper). It is the centre of the China’s printing industry and has attracted designers both student and professional, these designers established graphic design as a creative discipline and set up the first independent practices (formally constrained by government) they experimented with new graphic language, completely different from the political propaganda of the past.
The younger design generation in China are greatly influenced by the global youth life style brands but also traditional Chinese culture and its sure producing some great great work. Their youth products range from vinyl toys and dolls, to skateboards, trainers and tee shirts of which most pose strong graphical elements. I picked up a blank vinyl toy that I can do my own design on (anybody have any suggestions) and also one of three collatable from Ji Ji, Hi Panada 2006.
These designers often see themselves as part of the global design community often tying themselves in with global brands while also setting up there own independent labels.
I love a new independent clothing/design labels or getting my hands on something hard to find but uber cool, which is probably why I enjoyed this part of the exhibition’s much, I view of see Brand Joe as in independent design label of sorts, but with much more to offer than just design.
In this part of the exhibition I also loved a set of 4 photographs from Maleonn, a fine art photographer (managed to purchase a postcard as well) goona look inot this stuff when I get a bit more time. This postcard is entitled Days of Cotton Candy #4.
The other 2 parts of the exhibition was based around Fashion, Lifestyle and Architecture, displayed in Shanghi: Dream City and Beijing: Future City respectively.
Another part of the exhibition that grabbed my attention was the ‘Four Great Things’ and how they have changed over the decades. The Four Great Things are domestic products the Chinese have identified as symbols of success during the 60’s n 70’s it was bicycles, sewing machines, watches and radios now in today China they are; houses, cars, computers and mobile phones.
Just before a left I spied a mug that every designer should have I’d love to get a Pantone mug collection but really have no room, I’d need a whole room dedicated to them.
Anyway try and get to see the exhibition if you can, hopefully I’m off to see Banksy’s exhibition on Saturday (the last day).