The launch of Design Shanghai last week confirmed that good design is now firmly on the city’s radar. Around 50,000 visitors descended on the city's landmark exhibition centre - an elaborate Russian neo-classical venue - to view the wares of nearly 150 design brands, with 90 per cent exhibiting in China for the first time.
The four-day event set a new standard for the city thanks to its creative curators, Ross Urwin and Darrel Best of Infrastructure, who focused the inaugural exhibition on a strong offering of established international creatives, alongside homegrown talents, aiming to entice local interior designers, architects and developers. Says Urwin, ‘We were confident that China was ready for such an event but the turnout and level of engagement are testament to an evolving Chinese design consciousness and appreciation of finely crafted merchandise.'
Furniture proved the highlight in the Contemporary Hall, where we were drawn to Pinch’s elegantly proportioned two-seat 'Pendel' sofa, China-based Stellar Works’ Rén collection (blending Danish style with Japanese and Chinese influences), and New Zealand-based Resident's 'Hex Pendant' lamp.
Elsewhere, Wallpaper* Handmade with Jaguar made its spectacular debut in China after a whirlwind global tour that began at Milan's Salone del Mobile, before taking over Harrods' London windows and stopping Design Miami visitors in their tracks. At Design Shanghai, we showcased our recent collaborations with the legendary motoring marque, with a display that included pieces by designers Fredrikson Stallard, Moritz Waldemeyer, Mathieu Gustafsson, marble specialist Salvatori and dynamos Neri & Hu, who enjoyed a particularly strong presence at the fair.
Local creatives also showed a flair for all things handmade. Lifestyle boutique The Beast served up a pop-up cafe under an innovative landscape canopy, while Neri & Hu showed its highly covetable range of modern Chinese furniture and accessories; X+Q Art founder Qu Guangci’s offered up colourful sculptures; and Hanliang unveiled its ‘Ming Chair’ in ebony wood and leather.
In the Classic Hall, meanwhile, Mylands of London presented a range of paint shades inspired by the British capital while Spina Design caught our eye with a glamorous stripped goose feather tie-back. The Collectibles Hall showcased Utopia and Utility’s 'Stacking Vessel' and handcrafted ceramic lighting sculptures by Scabetti.
‘It is time for a new China design, not just a copy of Japanese and Scandinavian style,’ declared up-and-coming designer Yao Yejun of Mu Shi Tian Gong studio, who presented beautifully functional furniture, including an easy-to-transport three-leg stool.