China advisory panel: Insider guides
This month’s big, red, Made in China issue was put together with a little help from our friends - six creative trailblazers who are remaking Modern China.
To accompany the issue’s profiles of these six leading Chinese creatives that made up our advisory board, wallpaper.com is, over the course of the month, going to be talking to each of them to get an insider guide on the country they call home.
We kick off our series with Creative Director, Richard Hsu
Richard Hsu is one of the biggest names on the Bund - born in Shanghai but educated in the France, Switzerland and the States, Hsu returned to his roots in 2003 to head up the launch of Wieden+Kenedy in China. A Creative Director like no other, Richard is also principal of his own creative consultancy H+, and co-founder of Shanghai streetwear brand, Eno.
Whereabouts in China are you originally from and where do you live now? How have these places changed during your lifetime?
I was born in Shanghai and have now returned to the city of my birth. It has changed unrecognisably – the race course has become a park, street names have been mostly changed from French to Chinese, and the greatest change of all - my grandfather, who raised me for 4 years, is no longer here to take me for walks and teach me about Peking Opera.
What do you find most inspiring about living in China?
The people - the talent, the youth, the open-mindedness of the public, the hugely powerful qualities of optimism, and belief in the establishment.
Where is the most up and coming area of China, and why?
I am working on new projects exploring a more holistic and sensitive development of new and old cities, running parallel to the hyper-industrious pace elsewhere. I want to ensure that quality of life is considered – I want to advocate the cultivation of green spaces, slow living, culture and art –the necessary and crucial balance of business and art/culture - I want to establish a sense of pride in the places that we live.
If you had one piece of advice for visitors to China, what would it be?
Befriend a few local university students - preferably younger people as they will be more willing to speak with foreigners - and you will discover a very special side of China, a private China that perfectly complements the touristic side of the country. Also, be sure to visit both the city and the countryside, you will experience huge differences in ambition, pace, attitude and humanity.
If you had a friend come to visit you in Shanghai for 24hours, where would you be sure to take him/her?
We would spend a few hours exploring the scenic side of Shanghai, followed by a good meal in the company of a few close Shanghai friends so that they can better understand local views and opinions.
Who in your opinion are the creatives in China we should be looking out for at the moment?
They are present in all categories, although some fields are stronger than others. What I have noticed primarily is that a great number of creative leaders are self-made individuals. I have huge respect for those bringing positive changes to China. One good example is An Zhu who founded 1kg.cn, an infrastructure system that helps Chinese travellers to access remote regional schools to provide essential aid to young, under-cared-for students.
How did you find your experience as part of the Wallpaper* advisory panel?
I have long been interested and engaged with key influential individuals in China - I endeavour to understand and identify with projects, trends and movements happening in Chinese cities. Over the few weeks I worked with Wallpaper* however, I was confronted by sharper questions – it was necessary for me to refine my recommendations of local talents and projects – deeper reasoning was required on my part. I thank Wallpaper* for this experience – it has provided me with a greater appreciation and understanding of what and who I have around me.