China advisory panel: Insider guides
This month, our 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 kicked off our series talking to Creative Director,
Richard Hsu and television presenter and Chinese celebrity Yue-Sai Kan
This week we meet and hear the sound advice of architect Pei Zhu
The architectural face of contemporary China, Pei Zhu founded his eponymous studio in 2005. Having worked across the globe, Pei Zhu - now based in Beijing - designed the Digital Beijing Building for the Olympics, alongside countless residential projects around the city.
Where in China are you originally from and where do you live now? How have these places changed during your lifetime?
I grew up in Beijing and I still live there today. Beijing is a different city now compared to when I grew up. The blend of old China and new China; traditional China and future China manifests itself in the hub of Beijing.
What do you find the most inspiring about living in China?
The design values of my studio are heavily influenced by Chinese philosophy. In China it is a common belief that the highest level of culture is art. Art should always be a means to understanding – it should influence human interactions and refine humanity. I am inspired by the relationship between Chinese philosophy, Chinese art, and the possibilities within our future China.
Where is the most up and coming area of China and why?
The Beijing to Tianjin corridor is being developed as a technological center. The effort will result in the combining of the two cities into one urban phenomenon. The Yangtze River area is a unique place in China where the historic and traditional center of the country is now being confronted with modern economical and technological change.
If you had one piece of advice for visitors to China what would it be?
Drink good tea and visit a Chinese medicine doctor!
If you had a friend come to visit you for 24 hours, where would you be sure to take them?
First, they must stay in a Hutong Hotel. In the morning, they should have a Hutong breakfast and walk through the neighborhood. Then they should visit the modern areas, the CBD or the Olympic village. The contrast between the old and new city is important, but the vital aspect of their discovery will be the merging borders between the traditional and the modern. Never miss the blurred boundaries of Beijing!
Who in your opinion are the creatives in China we should be looking out for at the moment?
The last 20 years have been about building and designing a basic national infrastructure, it was a necessity to make copies and replicate design ideas from foreign cultures just to increase the living standard in China. Now that the basics are established, there is tremendous opportunity to leap forward with design innovation across many different fields - It is a very exciting period for the future of China.
How did you find your experience as part of the Wallpaper* advisory panel?
It was interesting to be involved with Wallpaper*’s efforts to bring new design ideas to China, but I hope Wallpaper* has also been inspired by the Chinese situation. Part of China’s future comes is in the realisation that design can actually improve peoples lives in every way.