Spin Studio ceramics, Wujing Town
It’s fair to say that Chinese contemporary design lags somewhat behind other creative industries. Bar a few pioneering designers who’ve started their own small companies, there’s still little interest outside elite circles, in buying good design on a mass scale.
Spin ceramics is a small but impressive company that is bridging the gap between luxury and democratic, commercial and domestic design. What started in 2004 as a brainwave by the interior designer, Gary Wang, has quickly spun into the closest thing contemporary Chinese design has to a household name.
Whilst in Shanghai we swung out of the city to Wujing Town to visit the Spin’s nucleus – the studio where the six graduate designers work on the company’s prototypes.
Like all good ideas, it started small and sensible – so sensible in fact it seemed laughably obvious: to turn existing expertise into good design. The china industry that gave China its name had fallen into decline, stuck in a rut producing gaudy, antique knock-offs for the tat market despite having such an esteemed heritage. Wang, with a small factory in the Jingdezhen province (the original heart of China’s china production), kick-started ceramics for a contemporary market, stripping away the gaud and putting function and simplicity back in the kiln.
Wang looked to the many universities in Shanghai, Beijing and Jingdezhen that still taught ceramics to find his small team of designers and encouraged them to experiment, with form, technique and glaze – all the while keeping simplicity and function to the fore.
Just four years later and Spin has three showrooms, one each in Shanghai, Beijing and Melbourne and Spin tableware is now found across the length and breadth of China, in hotels, restaurants and, maybe more impressively, homes.
Spin might still be a small company, but it is pioneering in its mission to update a traditional Chinese craft heritage and make it relevant and affordable for the masses.