China Focus releases a new feature on Designing the Future

China Focus releases a new feature on Designing the Future. The feature is contributed by Ge Lijun who is a reporter of the monthly magazine CHINAFRICA.

The inaugural World Design Cities Conference (WDCC) was held in September in Shanghai that officially joined UNESCO Creative Cities Network to be a City of Design in 2010. Representatives from Dundee, Cape Town, Graz, Seoul, Bandung, and Dubai were invited to the conference, along with the mayors or deputy mayors of Asahikawa, Saint-Etienne, Turin, and Montreal, which are all designated as City of Design. The conference's goal was to share knowledge on design policies, initiatives and approaches to foster innovation and address challenges.

Shanghai has a thriving design industry. Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization estimates that the sector's total output value increased by more than 10 percent every year between 2012 and 2021, from 472.46 billion yuan ($65.9 billion) to 1.62 trillion yuan ($226.15 billion).

The design sector has been quickly expanding across the country, particularly in the domains of industry and culture. Previously, designers concentrated on innovation and design in a single product, but a combination of design and industry, as well as design and brands, has become highly popular, according to Ding Wei, a design professor with the School of Art Design and Media at the East China University of Science and Technology.

Industrial innovation

Design capability is an essential component of a country's creativity, and industrial design is a strategic instrument for highlighting the degree of technical innovation and improving company competitiveness. A competitive product in modern society is invariably a well-designed product.

In 2012, Xi Jinping visited the Industrial Design City in Foshan, Guangdong Province, and encouraged Guangdong to improve industrial design, raise added value of products, and boost China's manufacturing industry's competitiveness. After 10 years, the design city has become a haven for innumerable designers.

Liu Haijun, general manager of Thray Design in the Industry Design City and a 13-year employee here, was one of the first designers to relocate to the design city at the time. "Throughout my time here, I've seen a steady development in the industrial design sector, and we've had a lot of supporting policies from the government. For a manufacturing company, industrial design is not trivial; it helps to encourage innovation in any industry," Liu told ChinAfrica.

According to him, industrial design comprises not only technology innovation, but also design that satisfies market demand. Small home devices are his design specialty, and the design details closely track evolving consumer behaviors. "Size, function, and even colour are all thoughtfully chosen to gain advantage in the market," he explained.

Strong design expertise is a critical component in the manufacturing chain in the hi-tech sector. The C919, China's first big commercial aircraft, obtained its type certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China on 29 September, marking a crucial step in its development. The certificate shows the C919's design complies with airworthiness and environmental regulations. The C919's design, according to analysts, is centred on artificial intelligence.

"Design is crucial for China's development from a big manufacturing country to a manufacturing powerhouse, from local brands to world-class brands," Richard Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei Technologies Co., said.

The industrial design sector had a market volume of roughly 200 billion yuan ($27.86 billion) in 2020, and a predicted market volume of 210 billion yuan ($29.25 billion) in 2021, according to qianzhan.com, an emerging sci-tech service platform.

Cultural and artistic works

Traditional Chinese culture must be expressed in novel ways in order to transmit the China story and increase the country's international recognition. These are the current thoughts of Chinese designers while meeting the demands of the market.

One of the official mascots for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bing Dwen Dwen became popular in February. The mascot, the figure of a strong and adorable panda, gained popularity among both Chinese and foreigners. There were long lines to purchase the merchandise in authorised stores. Thousands of the products were still being sold three months after the Games, demonstrating the enormous commercial potential of China's development of cultural and creative economy.

The National Bureau of Statistics estimates that the total revenue of China's large-scale cultural and creative design businesses was 1.95 trillion yuan ($272 billion) in 2021, up 20.9 percent from the previous year, while the total revenue of businesses involved in culture and associated industries reached 11.9 trillion yuan ($1.66 trillion).

Rising living standards and people's growing interest in culturally significant goods rather than merely utilitarian and material goods account for fast development of the industrial design sector. Consumers benefit from a broad range of options thanks to innovation, ranging from shapes of ice cream to dolls, which are frequently created by museums.

Typically, young individuals who are interested in traditional Chinese culture form their unique market. "Some cultural and creative items help me to release my stress in life and work since these tradition-based products have a pleasant connotation, such as blessing, happiness and joy," Lu Yuxue, a Beijing-based supporter of cultural and creative products, told ChinAfrica.

In a statement released in 2021, the central government emphasised that "the conservation and utilisation of cultural assets must be increased, prioritising research and public communication." This is something that local governments have also embraced. Industrial zones for the cultural and design industries have been formed in the central China's cities of Wuhan and Changsha, as well as Chongqing, Chengdu, and Xi'an. Thus, the industry has spread from the eastern part, industrialised part to the whole country.

Contact: Bai Shi

Tel: 008610-68996995

Email: baishi@cnfocus.com