Beijing Design Week 2011

A striking cluster of disused boiler towers, railroad tracks and chimneys
751 D-Park One of the back alleys of 751 D-Park - the main hub of the inaugural Beijing Design Week. A striking cluster of disused boiler towers, railroad tracks and chimneys, it once served as a gas power plant, and has become the go-to location for creative events in the city
(Image credit: TBC)

Already home to a thriving art scene and many a starchitect's creation, Beijing upped its cultural ante last month by holding its inaugural design week (opens in new tab). In true Chinese style, the ambitious 9-day event was spread over numerous locations around the mammoth city, and shone a light (despite the persistently hazy skies) on its eclectic fusion of past and present.

The main hub of the event was 751 D-Park - a striking cluster of disused boiler towers, railroad tracks and chimneys, which once served as a gas power plant, and has become the go-to location for creative events. Located just north of the famous 798 Art District, the park housed exhibitions from a slew of participating countries, most notably The Netherlands' Dutch Design Generator, and offered some insight to the state of Chinese design. Local design heavyweights, like Harrison Liu and Song Tao presented unique adaptations on traditional motifs in their pieces.

Across town, Beijing Design Week also orchestrated a series of pop-up shops and exhibitions in Dashilar Alley - one of the city's many hutongs, emphasising the value of these heritage areas to locals and visitors alike. The result was a charming hybrid of the city's most influential design and lifestyle businesses, such as Wu Hao (opens in new tab), Lost and Found (opens in new tab) and even Ab Rogers' fictional 'Ernesto Bones' exhibition, all situated in modest courtyard houses located next to existing residences, neighbourhood eateries and shops, dating back to another time.

The week also saw the opening of Beijing's first design centre, known as the Liang Dian (which translates as 'Spotlight'.) Located in an ex-computer assembly factory, the renovated 8-storey building provides studio office space and a gallery for a community of architects, lighting designers and young talent. The inaugural exhibition was of 'Chinese Stuff', which translates the idea of 'super normal' into the Chinese lexicon and celebrates both its wackiness and beauty.

Cave-like shelter built out of shipping pallets in an industrial area

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’Urban Body’, built out of shipping pallets by students from Tsinghua University, set against the park’s industrial backdrop

(Image credit: TBC)

Green poster with "The International United World University" and logo

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Poster by Goddur, a professor of graphic design at the Iceland Academy of Arts, presented by the Embassy of Iceland

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Grey and red poster with "The International United World University" and logo

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Another poster by Goddur, who studied fine art alongside Fluxus artists Dieter Roth and Hermann Nitsch

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House-shaped frame around a large, lit, pink object

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’Breathing Cloud’ by Dorette Sturm, part of the Liberation of Light exhibition at the Dutch Design Generator

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A dress on a mannequin, made out of smart e-foils that turns opaque on close contact

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’Intimacy’, a dress by Studio Roosegaarde, made out of smart e-foils that turns opaque on close contact

(Image credit: TBC)

A bicycle mounted on top of a table

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’Strand bicycle’ by Tjeerd Veenhoven is an ’ordinary’ carbon fibre bike, exhibited in the ’Connecting Concepts’ show at the Dutch Design Generator

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Modular seat with black and natural wood sections, inspired by yin and yang

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Modular yin and yang-inspired seating by Harrison Liu

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Lucite table with traditional designs in the corners

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Lucite table with traditional treatment, by Zhou Qi Yue

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Dark wooden shelving unit with a framed picture and two ornaments on the top shelf

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Shelving unit by Song Tao (opens in new tab)

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Dark, angular chair with slim backrest

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Angular chair by Song Tao

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Seven different cubes sit on a white shelf

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Experimentations in plastic, by Zi Zao She

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Exterior of Wonerwater restaurant featuring a brick arch and oriental decoration

Dashilar Alley
Across town, Beijing Design Week also orchestrated a series of pop-up shops, eateries and exhibitions in Dashilar Alley - one of the city’s many hutongs, emphasising the value of these heritage areas to locals and visitors alike. Pictured here is Wonderwater, a temporary restaurant conceived by Helsinki Design Week that factors in the water footprint of its dishes

(Image credit: TBC)

Tripe stew being cooked in a large, shallow pan

Dashilar Alley
Assorted tripe stew being prepared at Wonderwater

(Image credit: TBC)

Sterile, plastic-wrapped plates and cups alongside a pair of paper-wrapped chopsticks. There is also a leaflet titled "How much water do you eat?"

Dashilar Alley
Ready to break into our our sterilised cups and plates wrapped in plastic

(Image credit: TBC)

A view towards the ground, where a "corpse" made of shiny tiles is displayed

Dashilar Alley
The courtyard within Ab Rogers’ ’A day in the life of Ernesto Bones’ - an exhibition based on the surrealist game ’Exquisite Corpse’ created by creatives including Heston Blumenthal and Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic

(Image credit: TBC)

Purple poster with "A day in the life of Ernesto Bones" in pink text

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Two pairs of sunglasses and a china cup and saucer on an exposed brickwork windowsill

Dashilar Alley
Sunglasses on offer at the Wu Hao pop-up boutique. The holistic concept store is a result of Isabelle Pascal’s fascination with Chinese philosophy’s ’five elements’

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Autumn-themed room with a spotlight on a wall covered in autumnal foliage

Dashilar Alley
Each room in the pop-up shop is themed according to the four seasons, like this one, which depicts Autumn...

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Winter-themed room containing a black table designed to look like a cat

Dashilar Alley
... and this ’Winter’ room

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Tea table, made out of crates, with built in ceramic heater, electric water outlet and water collecting tank

Dashilar Alley
Tea table, made out of crates, with built in ceramic heater, electric water outlet and water collecting tank, by Nai Han Li

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Woman standing behind a counter. Shelving unit in the background holding large silver cannisters

Dashilar Alley
Wu Hao’s in-store teahouse, operated by Tranquil Tuesdays that specialises in unscented and unblended Chinese teas

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Tins of tea stacked on a shelf

Dashilar Alley
Tins of Tranquil Tuesdays’ tea

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Red table with five china dishes containing the five type of tea. Two are open

Dashilar Alley
The five varieties of Chinese teas: Pu-Er, white, oolong, green and black

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Tall, wooden tea cabinet with circular opening displaying interior shelving

Dashilar Alley
A tea cabinet at Wu Hao 

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Artwork based on a bicycle and featuring a black metal frame with brightly-coloured geometric shapes

Dashilar Alley
’M2B’ kinetic sculpture by Niko de la Faye, partly inspired by the overloaded bicycles of local junk collectors

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Vintage notebooks on a wooden shelving unit

Dashilar Alley
Vintage notebooks and ephemera at Lost & Found’s pop-up

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Two leather chairs, a table with a vintage phone, and a large filing cabinet

Dashilar Alley
The nostalgic interior at the Lost & Found pop-up

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Tianjin iron pipe chair with cream upholstery in front of a wooden table

Dashilar Alley
Tianjin iron pipe chair, part of Lost & Found’s new furniture collection, inspired by ubiquitous Chinese furniture from the 1950s and 1960s

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Wooden chair with enamel mug, white with Chinese symbols

Dashilar Alley
The furniture boutique, which is based in Guozijian street, also reinvigorating old Chinese trinkets to give them a modern bent, like this enamel mug

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Deconstructed chair with the parts fixed to a wall

Dashilar Alley
A deconstruction of Lost & Found’s Danwei chair - a modern take on the traditional Ming Dynasty chair, known for the way that it is held together without the aid of glue, nail or screw

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Five items of natural-dyed clothing hang on a rail.

Dashilar Alley
Limited edition Teasilk collection by avant-garde fashion label Ruxi. The all-natural capsule collection - made from silk and linen - was dyed with traditional methods, such as using mud and root vegetables

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Domestic-style cabinets and shelving units, transformed into a bar, ice-maker and sink

Dashilar Alley
Bar, with wine cooler, ice-maker, built-in sink and more, by Nai Han Li

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Artificial grass has been laid on the floor of an old computer factory. Origami cranes sit in a circle on the grass, and many more are suspended from the ceiling.

Liang Dian
Party decorations at the opening of Liang Dian, Beijing’s first design centre. Located in an ex-computer assembly factory, the renovated 8-storey building provides studio office space and a gallery for a community of architects, lighting designers and young talent

(Image credit: TBC)

A wooden Chinese scrubbing board mounted on a white surface alongside a title and description

Liang Dian
A clothes scrubbing board from ’Chinese Stuff’

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A lilac room with a wooden chest of drawers featuring offset handles

Liang Dian
Chest of drawers by Fnji (opens in new tab)

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A low, wooden TV cabinet with eight drawers

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Two wooden armchairs with round backrests, separated by a paler coffee table

Liang Dian
Round backed arm chair by Fnji

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A mound of artificial grass with cloud-shaped seating suspended above

Liang Dian
’Poem of Clouds’ seating by Chaoyang-based OrganicER

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Globular "rooms" sit amongst clouds of white balloons

China Shijitan Contemporary Art Center
Showcase of Chinese design at the China Shijitan Contemporary Art Center, which opened earlier this year

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Crowds of people at an opening ceremony. The building is lit in yellow and spotlights fan out into the sky

China Shijitan Contemporary Art Center
The opening ceremony at Shijitan

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Minimalist armchair made of ash wood

China Shijitan Contemporary Art Center
Ash wood arm chair, by Zhu Xiao Jie

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Desk with drawer unit, desk chair, and stool all made from walnut

China Shijitan Contemporary Art Center
Black walnut desk, by Hou Zheng Guang

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"Lover chair" made from two oak chairs that share part of the seat and one of the legs

China Shijitan Contemporary Art Center
Lover chair, in oak, by Sun Yun

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Twelve three-legged stools merged together to form an abstract table

China Shijitan Contemporary Art Center
Fellowship chairs, by Sun Yun

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Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.