The third annual Beijing Design Week kicked off four weeks ago to the day, and once again we took to the hutong to document what is arguably the largest design festival in the Eastern Hemisphere. It's certainly the major event for China's not insubstantial local design scene, and the fact that it attracts a fair share of international guests and exhibitors (mostly from Europe) is a testament to its relevance and scale in the global design circuit. According to a note from the press office that turned up in my inbox this morning, more than 1,000 designers presented their work to over 5 million visitors.
As an American-born Chinese who has been visiting Beijing for over two decades (I spent a few extra days with my family this time around) I felt compelled, for better or worse, to put the burgeoning art and design scene in perspective as a kind of parallel heritage. Thus, I concluded my coverage of BJDW2013 with a hybrid thought piece / photo essay that eschewed specific objects in an admittedly overambitious attempt to identify the meaning of the whole damn thing. But in the interest of presenting empirical examples of what, exactly, is going on in Beijing today, here is a visual survey of some of our favorite projects from 751 D.Park, Caochangdi artist's village, and, of course, Dashilar, the singular neighborhood where I embarked on the weeklong journey through the Beijing design scene and where I ultimately returned on the October 1 holiday, the day before I left.
Although some of the Guest City exhibitions felt a bit heavyhanded—751, in particular, was a bit too commercial for my taste—there were a few gems among the SALON/ exhibitors in Dashilar; LAVA, Klaas Kuiken & Dieter Volkers, and Sander Wassink were standouts among the dozen or so young Dutch designers who'd been invited to partner with local students to create work on-site. Meanwhile, I was glad to see new projects from Micro/Macro—Sara Bernardi followed up the CON-TRADITION collection with Yi, Er, San, Wu, Ling, as well as a jewelry collaboration with Miranda Vukasovic—and Mian Wu, whose new work was exhibited alongside techno-textiles by Elaine Ng Yanling at Wuhao Curated Shop. So too was I struck by the urban fabric of Beijing itself, specifically the contrast between the hypothetically habitable sculptures by international starchitects and the grassroots experiments in the labyrinthine hutong.
Still, if I had to choose a single best project from Beijing Design Week 2013, I must say it was one that I got to bring home: Drawing Architecture Studio's A Little Bit of Beijing is not only a felicitous souvenir but also a little bit of incentive to brush on my Chinese for next year.
Beijing Design Week 2013:
» Dashing through Dashilar - First Impressions
» Studio LL Launches with Du Pin & Drum Stools at Caochangdi
» Wuhao Presents New Work by Mian Wu & Climatology by the Fabrick Lab (a.k.a. Elaine Ng Yanling)
» CAFA Students Present the Museum of Bicycle Parts in Dashilar
» An iPhone 5S Architecture Tour - Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid & Steven Holl in Slo-Mo
» Common Objects: Soviet and Chinese Design 1950-1980's
» Zhang Ke, Matali Crasset & Others Explore the Future of the Hutong
» Drawing Architecture Studio Presents 'A Little Bit of Beijing' (à la Chris Ware)
» The Real Dashilar / Closing Remarks