There's no better to describe it, but Design Shanghai is truly a "hot mess". With stampeding crowds, a problematic entry system, and confusing and unclear signage, making your way into the show - especially for first-timers - can be stressful and frustrating. However, this absolutely did not discount the fact that Design Shanghai 2018 is Asia's biggest international design event.
Set across five remarkable design halls in the neoclassical architectural wonder that is the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, Design Shanghai, now in its fifth year, has packed over 400 leading international and home-grown design brands and galleries from over 30 countries, presenting their exciting and innovative ideas through extensive product launches, bespoke installations and exclusive networking events.
Truly, Design Shanghai is the place to discover the world's most established brands, exciting up-and-coming designers from China and abroad as well as renowned galleries. Here are some new and emerging designers that could be the next superstar of the Chinese (and hopefully, global) design scene.
"Mirror Pot"(Top) and "Clips Chair" (Bottom).
At Mamamoon's (An art & original design online store ) booth, a new collaboration with Zorse Plus One was quite the spectacle. Founded by Ed and Win in Singapore, this 'hybrid' creative studio's "Mirror Pot" came from a simple idea with the intention to collect more light for indoor plants. The pot is made of crushed recycled marbles, letting the plants and pot blend into its earthy texture. The stark mirror acts as a reflector for the pot. Besides catching the lights, surrounding them, and reflecting them to the pot, it also catches the attention of people passing by them, asking for more attention and care to the plants.
Ed and Win first met and collaborated in London, hitting it off from the get-go over a common obsession for stripes and a good beer. After two chilly winters, they eventually packed up for Asia to chase the sun and bigger dreams. "Our hope for this collaboration is to be able to let Mamamoon's audiences to relate and grow with our vision and aesthetics and at the same time injecting a few of our elements into their daily lifestyles. "
8Hourdesign is a young design company (led by designer Sherry Xu) focusing on furniture and product design, and at the same time also provide designing and planning services for office, commercial and public spaces. Inspired by the humble paperclip, Xu managed to transform them into chairs and pendant lights. She explained, "Paperclip is an amazing item. Its shape is flexible and very identifiable, but this time we design it to be seated and to be used for lighting." Even though some designs might be too literal, 8Hourdesign did tap into a new category of design that's lacking personality in China. "As work becomes a part of urban life, workspaces (design) should be much easier and fun." And we couldn't agree more.
"Wait Lamp" (Top) and "Ripples Screen" (Bottom).
Since last September's Maison Shanghai, we kept an eye out for Jihe Studio's unbelievably mature design. Founded by young designer Tony Lee, his work seems to have been influenced by the concise points, lines and surfaces of Scandinavian design, while recalling a bit of Dutch quirkiness.
For example, the "Wait Lamp" - a form clearly inspired by a crane, as his very Nendo-ish sketches pointed out - is actually designed in a very simple way, consisting of two discs and two metal rods. "We often read in the light. When we want to have a rest, we can put the book on the lamp. And just take down and open it when we want to read it again next time. Here, the lamp acts as a bookmark, recording your reading time," he explained.
Then there's the new "Ripples" screen. A set of three metal wire screens that included rotating discs. When they're rotated, they will produce a dynamic effect and projection, simple lines, the ripples of the actual and artistic conception. This design is his way of addressing the Chinese attention to the art of artistic conception. Of course, you might have guessed that this work is inspired by China's infamous lake scene with dusk and sunset combined.
"Picto Collection" by Nendo for Zens.
When designers try to inject humour into furniture, they can either be too cheesy, ending up like children's furniture; or they can hit a niche that's a perfect balance of humour and class. A fantastic example is Nendo's design. However, as we discovered in our previous post, not all of Nendo's designs are commercially viable. But this time around, his new collection "Picto" for Chinese company Zens is definitely 'Good to Go'.
"Picto" is a furniture collection that consists of 4 types of furniture: a side table, a stool, a small shelf, and a container. Using hieroglyphics, such as Chinese pictograms as the inspiration, Nendo has created furniture that defies gravity by placing different graphical elements on the same triangle as a pedestal. As a result, a sense of unity is achieved while maintaining his playfulness - or what he called the '!' moments. Fortunately for consumers, this collection (and another two new ones for Zens) are all available for purchase online now.
"Tree Folding Table" doubles as a console and screen.
"Infinity Floor Lamp" (L) and "Improvise Chair" (R).
Everybody seems to want a piece of Nendo these days. However, truthfully, there are some brands out there that not only manage to emulate the 'Kawaii' style, but also the quick turnaround of creative design. Enter Hong Kong/Shanghai furniture brand: Ziinlife. After presenting their Autumn collection at Maison Shanghai to great reviews, their new, seven pieces Spring collection also managed put a smile on our faces.
With the theme of 'Finding Balance of Life', Ziinlife's new collection aims to discover the hidden beauty from ordinary life, and design furniture with simple expression, but full of wonder and delight. The four stand out pieces included the flat-packable "Improvise Chair/Sofa", the "Infinity Floor Lamp", and our favourite: the "Tree Folding Table".
As the name suggests, the "Tree Folding Table" is like a normal folding table with a twist: as the table surface is folded, the support beam is revealed as a small console, while the table surface now doubled as a screen - much like Zanotta's "Shoji Screen". The transformed table now looked like a decorative tree that does not only save space but also becomes a great 'greenery' for the home.
Kate Chung's Blossom In Between divider.
Although technically not presented in Design Shanghai, but we just can't ignore the magnificence of Taiwanese designer Kate Chung's design for Kvadrat. Presented at the Danish textile brand showroom in Yanping Road, Kate's "Blossom In Between" divider attempted a different direction by shaping the brand's textile that is generally used as flat surface coverings into three-dimensional units. By creating two small spaces around the folding area, the three-piece room divider will enable the user to experience two ambiences: one side with ‘blossom + round frame’ gives a flowing and breathable ambience; the other, with ‘blossom + square frame’, provides a private and stable ambience. Lighting from different angles will create layers of lights and shadows that illuminate the beautiful colours and unique character of the textiles.
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