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A Decade Retrospective of China Design "Design For Sitting" Grand Prix Exhibition & International Exhibition Of Works Of Famous Designers

Opening Reception: March 10, 2012 11 a.m., E9 Gallery, Redtory

Duration of Exhibition: March 10 – May 13, 2012

Venue: E9, E11 Gallery, Redtory, Guangzhou


Seminar:“The Future of China Design”

Time: March 10, 2012  11:30 am

Venue: E9 Gallery, Redtory

Objective: to recollect the achievements of China design, encourages creativity and more possibilities of design, explore the development of a new decade, as well as give an impetus to a long-term development of China original design.


Organizer: China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Redtory Culture & Art Organization

Co-Organizer: School of Design, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts

Undertaker: School of Design, China Central Academy of Fine Arts

Curator: Jiang Li, Alice Wong

Coordinator & Promoter: Li Yongling, Travis Wong


Academic Advisors

Yrio Kokkapuro      University of Art and Design Helsinki  Professor

Volker Albus         Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design   Professor

Luigi Colani         World-Famous Designer

Toshiyuki Kita      Osaka Design Forum   Executive Chairman

Ken Okuyama      World-Famous Designer

Werner Aisslinger   German Famous Furniture Designer

Fujisaki Makoto     Kyoto City University of Arts   Honorary Professor

Haruo Yamanaka    Kyoto City University of Arts   Professor

Drew Plunktt       School of Design, The Glasgow School of Art   Professor

Fabiziod de leva    Italian Registered Architect, Senior Designer

Benjamin Hughes   Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design  Professor

Meyers Bell      Department of Architecture, Kaiserslautern University of Technology Professor

Wang Min         School of Design, China Central Academy of Fine Arts   Professor

Shi Zhenyu        Academy of Art & Design, Tsinghua University    Professor

Tan Ping          School of Design, China Central Academy of Fine Arts   Professor

Lv Pinjing         School of Architecture, China Central Academy of Fine Arts   Professor

Liu Guanzhong     Academy of Art & Design, Tsinghua University    Professor

Kurimoto Natsuki   Kyoto City University of Arts   Professor

Mitamura Arisumi   Tokyo University of the Arts   Professor

Wang Shouzhi      Art Center College of Design (U.S.)   Professor

Zhang Baowei      School of Architecture, China Central Academy of Fine Arts   Professor

Fang Hai          School of Arts Design, Guangdong University of Technology   Professor

Lin Yantang        School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University  Professor

Sherman Lin       School of Design, China Central Academy of Fine Arts   Professor

Tong Huiming      School of Design, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts   President

Chen Xiangjing     Newsdays Architectural and Interior Design Organization   Chief Designer

Shao Fan          Designer / Artist

Zhang Jian         School of Industrial Design, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts   Associate Professor

Liang Ming        Internationally Recognized Designer

Zhu Xiaojie        Furniture Designer

Bill Dunster        ZEDfactory (UK)   Chief Designer


Seminar Experts

Wang Shouzhi      Art Center College of Design (U.S.)   Professor

              Cheung Kong School of Art & Design   President

Lin Yantang        School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University  Professor

Sherman Lin       School of Design, China Central Academy of Fine Arts   Professor

Tong Huiming      School of Design, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts   President

Chen Xiangjing     Newsdays Architectural and Interior Design Organization   Chief Designer

Benjamin Hughes    Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design  Professor

Shao Fan          Designer / Artist

Zhang Jian        School of Industrial Design, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts   Associate Professor




Industrial design in China has experienced the beginning period in the 1980s, the developing period in the 1990s, and entered the first stage of mature period since the 21st Century. The first decade in the new century is very gratifying. Redtory, which was built at the end of the 1950s, has witnessed the development of China’s industry.

March 10, 2012, jointly organized by China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Redtory Culture & Art Organization, “A Decade Retrospective of China Design – ‘Design for Sitting’ Grand Prix Exhibition & International Exhibition Of Works Of Famous Designers” will be opened in Redtory. Comprised of three parts “A Decade of China Design”, “‘Design for Sitting’ Grand Prix Exhibition” and “International Exhibition of Works of Famous Designers”, the exhibition will continue the unremitting efforts paid during the past decade. Furthermore, internationally recognized designers, scholars and artists will be gathered for an academic seminar, setting for a new decade of China industrial design.

The collaboration between China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Redtory comprehensively reflects modern Chinese design education. “A Decade of China Design” will demonstrate the excellent works from the last decade, which will provide us a perspective for a better view on China design during the past decade along the line of its development.

“Grand Prix Exhibition” will focus on the works by internationally recognized designers and the award winners of the 5th “Design for Sitting” Grand Prix. After being exhibited in CAFA Art Museum in Beijing, the works will be on a tour in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Milan. This time Redtory brings the exhibit, which will last two months, to the most important industrial base in Southern China – Pearl River Delta. It is an extension of the design education in CAFA, also a meaningful trip for the dissemination of design thinking and educational ideals.

“International Exhibition of Works of Famous Designers” centralize works cooperated by active furniture designers, architecture designers and artists both China and abroad. These works have won high appraisal from the design circle, which are also a reflection of the latest design trends internationally.

The past decade is a period linking between the preceding and the following. China product design will definitely have a dramatic breakthrough within the second decade in the 21st century, while what has been accumulated in the previous ten years plays as the foundation of the breakthrough. This exhibition could be a pilgrimage. Through the exhibition and seminar, Redtory expects to recollect the achievements of China design, encourages creativity and more possibilities of design, explore the development of a new decade, as well as give an impetus to a long-term development of China original design. We share a common ideal, i.e., from “Made in China” to “Designed in China”, hoping more excellent Chinese designers could give out voices of originality on the international platform of Redtory!


PREFACE (Prof. Wang Shouzhi & Prof. Shi Zhenyu)


Design In China, A Retrospective Of 10 Years

/ Wang Shouzhi

The term of “Modern Design” is loose and covers very large spectra of design activities, from urban planning, engineering, architecture design, technique and digital design, product design to graphic; it won’t be easy to locate a definition for it simply.  From my understanding, many design critics in the west tend to believe “Design is the planning that lays the basis for the making of every object or system” (Wikipedia). In this definition, design in the first place is a plan, and it lays the basis for systems. Some other definition use narrower way, such as Japanese Dictionary defines Design is “a form based on consideration of function and aesthetic of a product”, here brings in “object” and “commodity”, and design deals with two major issues: Aesthetic and function, and final result is “form “or “shape”. Actually, two definitions do not differ with each other greatly. The western notion is loose and largely covered rather than Japanese. The West thinks more of system and context in a more conceptual, abstractive way when Japanese tend to focus more on product itself in more practical manner. China’s “Ocean of Words” (Ci Hai) says “design is a determinate plan or pattern based on a pre-set goat”. This definition is quite poor comparing with the Western or Japanese, which tune is still similar to both.

There are three important definitions: the Rational modern, the Action-Centric model and the Agile approach.The Rational Model was independently developed by Simon and Pahl and Beitz. It posits: 1st: designers attempt to optimize a design candidate for known constraints and objectives; 2nd, the design process is plan-driven; the 3rd: the design process is understood in terms of a discrete sequence of stages.

The Rational Model is based on a rationalist philosophy and underlies the Waterfall Model, Systems Development Life Cycle and much of the engineering design literature. According to the rationalist philosophy, design is informed by research and knowledge in a predictable and controlled manner. Technical rationality is at the center of the process.

The Action-Centric Perspective is a label given to a collection of interrelated concepts, which are antithetical to The Rational Model. It posits that:

Designers use creativity and emotion to generate design candidates, the design process is improvised, and the 3rd: no universal sequence of stages is apparent – analysis, design and implementation are contemporary and inextricably linked

The Action-Centric Perspective is a based on an empiricist philosophy and broadly consistent with the Agile approach and a methodical development. Substantial empirical evidence supports the veracity of this perspective in describing the actions of real designers. Like the Rational Model, the Action-Centric model sees design as informed by research and knowledge. However, research and knowledge are brought into the design process through the judgment and common sense of designers – by designers "thinking on their feet" – more than through the predictable and controlled process stipulated by the Rational Model. Designers' context-dependent experience and professional judgment take center stage more than technical rationality.

Design is a noun as well as a verb. That is why it covers so wide. From system, structure to city planning, architecture design, product, graphic, fashion, entertainment, soft development, engineering design etc., the people whose profession is related is called “a Designer“

Since 21st Century, there is effort to define “design “in more advanced notion. In 2005, Dino Dini from Liverpool JM University raised a new concept in the 2005 Game Design and Technology Workshop,  believed that the design process is the management of constraints, including manipulating design variables so as to satisfy the non-negotiable constraints and optimizing those which are negotiable. This definition reflects some new thoughts about design in our era.

China’s product design started around 1980s, the whole 80s could be considered as a beginning period, and the 1990s is a foundation period before industrial design in China moving to the early stage of maturity in early 21st century. Reviewing the result and achievement in the first decade of 21st century is quite satisfying. With this solid foundation with strong support of China’s sizable manufacture ability, China’s product design will take off in the second decade and China one day will become one of the most competitive design nations.

I hope the Design in China, a retrospective of 10 years a great success!


/ Shi Zhenyu

“Design for Sitting” is ten years old when it finally goes out of China Central Academy of Fine Arts and arrives in Guangzhou. I’m very glad and comforted to see that.

 “Design for Sitting” is not a show for commercial purpose. It just restricts a theme, and provides a platform for the young designers and students to discover and demonstrate themselves. Its only orientation is to put some vitality and dream into the bored and doctrinal design environment.

People might say that these “creative” products are not likely to be put on production. But I don’t agree that a thematic exhibition should be judged according to such a criterion. If only a thematic exhibition can illustrate its opinion as well as influence and stimulate the audience’s imagination, it has fulfilled its task. As to its production, it might be a post-exhibition problem – if you must follow the criterion of mass production feasibility, you’ll have to visit results exhibition or the shopping mall instead.

The design education is too doctrinal nowadays. The definition of design and over stylized education seriously stifles the creativity of our young designers and students. We don’t have to bother ourselves too much by defining industrial design. Sometimes it’s design as well as invention. Design usually works in concert with elements such as invention, crafts and design separately in due period. It’s unnatural for us to set up a definition (limitation) for it. Is the first pen an invention or design work? Are the posters by Toulouse Lautrec painted or designed? We should all be tolerant. Let’s give design some freedom and refresh it; it therefore could create a healthy, simple and pleasant life for us.

I’ve been one of the jury members of the last five “Design for Sitting” prix exhibitions, which enables me to eyewitness the efforts paid by Prof. Jiang Li and her team for each exhibition – finally it has grown up and is getting better and better. Now the exhibition is brought to Redtory, Guangzhou by Ms. Alice Wong. I feel quite touched. Here I’d like to solute to these selfless people. I also hope the exhibition could win support from the design lovers!

May the exhibition a great success!




Design for Sitting” Grand Prix has survived ten years since its debut in 2002 by making itself one of the representatives of the creativity of modern China design. This year, under joint efforts from China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Redtory, “Design for Sitting” is brought to Southern China, which, as believed, is a comprehensive reflection of design education in modern China. Coupled by “A Decade Retrospective of China Design”, it is a grand event in the most important industrial foundation of Southern China, which is an extension of design education in colleges and universities on the one hand; and a very meaningful journey that encourages creativity on the other hand.

As one of the organizers of this grand prix, we set up “Redtory Nomination Award” to solute to the innovative and explosive spirit of the prix. The jury will select the excellent works under very strict standards and the most influential, cultured and philosophically meaningful works will be found out. Through efforts from many parts, the creativity of China is seen quite a lot of improvement, which is of unusual significance to the conversion “from made in China to designed in China”.

Redtory, as a platform for the display of creativity, is replete with vigorous cells. It provides more opportunities for the public to get engaged in modern design and art; modern design and art, thus, is no longer restricted to a small proportion of people. All those who are in love with life and art can participate to show the fresh and creative ideas of contemporary life instead of the rotten stereotypes. Through consistent efforts, we believe more resources for the inspiration of “China creation” will be created to enable more and more influential creative people and organizations to display themselves to the world as well as demonstrate the strength of China creation.



“A Decade Retrospective of China Design” & “The Future of China Design” Seminar Held in Redtory

March 10, “A Decade Retrospective of China Design” & “The Future of China Design” Seminar was held in Redtory, Guangzhou. With elites from the design and culture circles gathering in the place which witnesses the development of Pearl River Delta, people’s focus has shifted from “made in China” to “designed in China”, which standing for the beginning of “China Original Design” series in Redtory. The series, with more exhibitions to come, is going to become an grand event in the most important industrial base in Southern China. While Redtory, as a platform, will attract more creative strength and attention. By providing more modern design and art to the public, Redtory expects to get all the people who love life and art involved in the illustration of fresh creative ideas in our contemporary life.

This exhibition is jointly organized by China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Redtory Culture & Art Organization, curated by Jiang Li, Professor of China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Alice Wong, Art Director of Redtory. The international platform showcases what has been achieved during a decade’s efforts of China Design as well as the new international design style. More than an important retrospective and recollection within Chinese art scene and design industry, the exhibition & seminar also invited experts both domestic and abroad to offer advices and discuss the future of design industry. This exhibition is the debut of design in every circle.

The exhibition showcases excellent works by both internationally renowned designers and young designers. The frank jean, natural and idyllic Ming-style Chair, Sunflower Chair with both formal and functional appeal, and the environmental protective chair materialized with old newspaper … their designers include Masayuki Kurokawa, Kita Toshiyuki, Volker Albus, Benjamin Hughes, Shi Zhenyu, Wei Zheng, Jiang Li, Shao Fan, etc., who enjoy high reputation domestically or internationally. In the galleries in Redtory are designed in a post-industrial style, where over 80 pieces of furniture with originality are well-arranged, illustrating the past decade of China design development. As Shi Zhenyu, Professor of Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University, put it, “an exhibition can clarify one’s opinion; furthermore, it can influence, stimulate and illuminate the viewer’s imagination.”

The opening was rather crowded, with famous designers, theorists and artists, Consuls and representatives from many countries, friends from Hong Kong and Taiwan art and design circles as well as media in attendance. No ribbon-cutting, instead, the guests were invited to set free the balloons, after which the audience were led into the gallery.


According to curator of the exhibition, Art Director of Redtory, Ms Alice Wong, besides setting up “Redtory Nomination Award” to encourage designers from the new generation, Redtory also acts as a multi-platform, where people can showcase their creativity and realize the goal of “designed by China”. This time Redtory brings the design achievements in the past decade to Southern China, which makes a meaningful journey to broadcast design thinking and education ideals.

The Future of China Design” was hosted by Wang Shouzhi, famous design theorist. Eleven experts were invited to sit on eleven chairs of originality to explore the design of China. With incisive speech, they probed into history, economy and industry system for explanations to the present situation, then suggested a direction for future development. The seminar proceeded in an active atmosphere. The experts shared their unique opinions, which resulted in hot response from the audience. Consul-generals from Denmark, Switzerland, Mexico and Belgium voiced their opinions, too, to interpret and analyze the “original design” in China from a global perspective. They also expressed their appreciation of the role played by Redtory as a platform for international design and culture communication. Two hours can’t satisfy further communication, which, thereby, was continued on Microblog later. The seminar shows that experts have high expectation on China Design. In Prof. Wang Shouzhi’s words, “the distance that we completed in 30 years took the western countries 150 years. Of course, we’d suffer all the problems issued in the 150 years. Now since the economy of China is growing fast, it’s the best time for design development.”

The exhibition and seminar have won comprehensive attention, emitting immeasurable influence. As the proceeding of the exhibition, deeper discussion is triggered. “China Original Design” series will bring more wonderful occasions. It is believed that Redtory will stimulate more inspiration, enabling more influential creative people as well as organizations to illustrate the strength of “Chinese Creation”.




Wang Shouzhi (Professor of Art Center College of Design (U.S.), President of Cheung Kong School of Art & Design): China design started in the early 80s, and the 1990s is a foundation period before industrial design in China moved to the early stage of maturity in early 21st century, when people begin to ask: China has produced 60 to 70 percent of products worldwide. The economy of China is growing at the highest speed. But what can be listed as Chinese original design till now? “A Decade Retrospective of China Design” exhibition just starts from such a perspective, dedicating to illustrate the path of China Design during the first decade of the new century.


Lin Yantang (Professor of School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University): In the late Qing and early Ming, when the modern design in the western countries was developing rather fast, China was still busy satisfying people’s basic requirements for living. Since the establishment of new China, China design has been following a very important period of road. It’s not that China doesn’t have good design. But China is too large, and we have many problems to cope with and heavy duty to fulfill. So our brands are not yet good enough to be accepted by the whole world. Now with the main market in Asia and Pacific area, it should be much easier for us to develop brands.


Sherman Lin (Professor of School of Design, China Central Academy of Fine Arts): China had original design since a long time ago, for example, the Ming-style furniture was wonderful. But we failed to inherit some good experience of business development in the world, and have been holding a pragmatic attitude of “crossing a river by feeling about the stones in the bottom” instead of developing strategies based on reasonable research. Intellectual property needs proper protection and the value of design in the industrial chain needs to be assured. These are the key factors that cause the backward situation of China design.


Tong Huiming (President of School of Design, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts): We can’t depend simply on designers for the development of original design. We’ve got to think about how to transfer design to product. This is what the whole design circle has to consider. Original design should be combined with industry. The upgrade, transformation and enhancement of value will have significant impetus on design. Actually the enterprisers all have very good perception about brand. The designers need to enclose the enterprises to influence their design practice.


Chen Xiangjing (Chief Designer of Newsdays Architectural and Interior Design Organization): Original design should compose two parts: first, “originality” from within the designer’s mind; second, “design” for usage. Some designers overemphasize “originality” without building design on the understanding and focus on humanistic environment, which causes the disjointed design and market. The separation between designer and enterprise makes it difficult to form and perfect Chinese original brands.


Benjamin Hughes (Professor of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design): China has good design. Many designers seek inspiration from the local crafts in Gansu, Shanxi and Shanxi Provinces and create characteristic design works with local material. Originality isn’t anything containing alien value. The combination of local culture, crafts, technique and design could result in brands of originality.


Cui Huafeng (Designer): The society’s focus has shifted from food to design. It itself is a kind of development. Pritzker Architecture Prize this year went to a Chinese, which is not only good news for the architecture circle, but also good news for China. We’re under “favorable climatic, geographical and human conditions” now; please have some confidence and patience in China design.


Feng Feng (Director of Contemporary Art Department, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts): Good environment for design industry should allow both commissioned designers and independent designers. The existence of a good number of independent designers is the foundation for a healthy development of design, because it’s not only business that designers have to confront, but also public issues.


Feng Yuan (Professor of the College of Media, Arts and Design, Sun Yat-sen University): We can define design as follows: Firstly, creativity takes the lead; secondly, design products should be allowed to flow freely; thirdly, design, in some sense, is a supra-economic phenomenon. It doesn’t have to be sold, but its creative elements enable it to win respect from the society all the same. Today our life should provide more options. Only under this premise design becomes the most important. The strength of design will grower bigger and bigger, since it most possibly brings a better future.


Shao Fan (Designer, Artist): We should broaden our view and start from culture and thought circle as a whole instead of mere design circle. The western and orientation have different value and aesthetics, so we need to think about this question from where Chinese tradition initiates. And we also need to think about the cultural background and value of the oriental elements when it was given to birth.


Thomas Hojlund Christensen (Consul General of Denmark): Asian design is good. If China can seek for new ways based on her own tradition, China design surely will have a brilliant future. Chinese architect has won Pritzker Architecture Prize, which means China has a good starting. Chinese designers are accepted by the world. So I have confidence in China. I also hope Chinese design can grow better and better.


Ulrich Hunn (Consul General of Switzerland in Guangzhou): You were just talking about the design about the past ten years. But when I look at these beautiful Chinese chairs, I think design has also a long tradition in China. I’m sure there are many ideas and many brains in design in this country. And it’s a matter of a short time, I think, for these ideas to come onto the market, and finally the whole world.


David Renato Najera Rivas (Consul General of Mexico in Guangzhou): Firstly, China develops too fast; secondly, China is too big. So China can’t have only one design. There are different schools, different ideas. So I think the main question is to think what you design for. You design for the people. You have to enjoy this, that’s possibly a good change. You have something special; you have your own experience and life. I think China cannot go with one design, there would be several schools.


Arnaud Gaspart (Economic Affairs Consul, Consulate General of Belgium in Guangzhou): Belgium has very good designers who don’t serve in Belgium, but somewhere else. When you look at the last ten years in Belgium, some very talented designers have gone back to original recipes in the middle age to create something new. I want to say is that they actually went to their past to create something new that the public love. Don’t make China design like the Chinese food in Chinatown. Cook it like real Chinese food. And the Chinese character can make something truly original.




Sunflower Chair  He Mu, Zhang Qian

Sitting at the center of a blooming sunflower and being crowded by beloved books will definitely make reading something lingering in your mind all day. Designed by designer He Mu and Zhang Qian from Shanghai University of Engineering Science, Sunflower Chair has won “Redtory Design Award” for the 5th “Design for Sitting” Grand Prix. Experts in the jury all agreed that the chair satisfied the very thing intention of sitting – reading, which meets the theme “sitting and other behaviors” quite well.

Jean  Masayuki Kurokawa


Albus  Volker Albus

 “Modern Ming Dynasty Style” series is a definite conceptual project. Since China is in possession of rich and plentiful cultural system, isn’t it a great project to reflect it from the perspective of a stander-by? However, we can gradually recover the tradition along the cultural line of Ming Dynasty. I got the inspiration from Chinese tradition, for all the three chairs borrowed the Ming spirit and structure. Through the chairs, I’d like to call on the young designers in China to protect the tradition, while they should at the same time pay attention to modern material and technique. That’s why I dress the modern chairs with popular cheap textile and plastic material. The works, in conception, reflect the integration between new and old, yesterday and today.


My – Chair  Ben Hughes

It is a project that stimulates innovation by encouraging everybody to participate in chair design. This piece was firstly exhibited in National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, then in Milan Design Furniture Week and London Design Week.



Ribbon – cutting ceremony


Group photo of the guests

The atmosphere on site being really hot

Experts discussing on “The Future of China Design”


Seminar taking place on the chairs of originality


Experts and curators giving opinions on “The Future of China Design”


Consuls from many countries attending the seminar

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