In conversation with Guangzhou Design Week CEO:
A carnival of thriving designs
Large-scale mascot at the centre frontdoor
In the post-pandemic new normal, many public events have been forced to stop, and societies are looking forward to returning to the previous normal state. Guangzhou Design Week, as one of the large-scale design events in China, is coming to its 16th edition this December. Few would disagree that Guangzhou Design Week’s (GDW) CEO He Wenguang is a charismatic speaker. Started as an intern to now the person-in-charge of this popular design event, for sure he has plenty of experiences that can inspire many. Let him tell us more about this year’s theme, “Youth BLOOM”.
Leveraging geographical advantage
In a vast country like China, even in just the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, there are already quite a number of design-focused exhibitions, and they often draw inspiration from the cities themselves rather than focusing on being stand-out. Mr He knows about this clearly. “Guangzhou is a core city of the Greater Bay Area. This is also a centre of the home furnishings industry. If time allows, designers who participate in GDW can also visit factories in the surroundings, getting to know more about their craftsmanship, techniques and products. That’s why GDW is probably an entry point for designers to dig deeper into their areas of interest. Very often, participant designers would be scouted by partnering factories or project sites at the event. Therefore, at this point of time, GDW has become a carnival of related design events instead and arguably the most significant design carnival in China.
Breeding ground for designers
The design industry is all about being human-centric. To stand out among competitors in this arena, a designer itself must have its personal goal to fulfil. This is, in fact, a recurring theme for Guangzhou Design Week. “What is the path of personal growth for a designer? A designer needs to learn, communicate, interact, and be recognised and affirmed by another. They must be able to express their creative mind in a healthy environment in the industry. This is something we have been working on in the past 15 years. “Design promotion, honours and achievements, learn and upskill, broadening horizon, connecting with the industry” are the different needs of designers. We have been trying to answer them through GDW, which gradually evolved into an ecosystem of “expo + awards + forums + study tours” to support the growth of designers.”
“We hope to turn GDW a one-stop-shop destination for designers in China. Here they can visit, attend lectures, participate in award competitions, see exhibitions, get to know new friends and rekindle with old ones. They are exposed to new materials, new technologies, new products and new perspectives, applying them to their designs; exhibitors can also be in touch with numerous clients and designers. Therefore, designers and firms can leverage GDW to realise their collaborations.”
Go with the flow
Mr He pointed to an evident trend that has been going on at GDW in recent years: “We hope this isn’t an event with a singular theme, but a joint expression by different products, industries, designers and artisans. We used to focus on a singular theme, such as childhood, elderly living, urban revitalisation, etc., giving out a united expression. Now we use design as the main narrative, integrating the branding resources, designs, customers, design and art resources of the local furnishing industry and delivering a professional, international, diversified, social platform for the design resource chain.
“GDW features the limitless possibilities of design. For example, fashion pieces from 2020, 3D printing expo, WOOART, “Happy art festivals”… they cover art, hobbies, installation, VR interactive, etc. This year’s theme, “Youth BLOOM”, is about courage and age during adolescence, breaking new grounds with passion and creativity in this post-Covid period. We have also continued our past successful projects and explored new ones under the new environment. For instance, we not only had an event that targets Kidult called “BKA universe for kidults”, as well as an exhibition about post-covid office space. We remain true to our original intention,” he said.
Make a broad stride with creativity
Under the new normal, economic activities are waiting to resume back to normal. As the theme of this year’s GDW, it’s about a Global Design Reset. GDW itself also uses this theme when curating the art pieces. “The pandemic has significantly reduced inter-personal interactions. Even physical events and virtual events may now happen alternately, there is no doubt that an annual large-scale event is still something attractive to many – it attracts good designs from abroad and introduces new ideas to China, and have them reproduced locally using Chinese craftsmanship. This is a two-way flow, and such experiments are something worth hoping for.”
About Guangzhou Design Week
Guangzhou Design Week is the first Design Week initiative in China. Initiated by Guangzhou municipal government in 2006, the event has grown into a leading event for the design industry in Asia. It has built a network of partnerships with over 30 countries and 200 cities. It has organised a series of leading locally and internationally renowned design events, authoritative award presentations, professional forums and study tours. It is recognised as the most valuable resources platform for the design industry in China. This year, BODW and GDW formed a new partnership to combat adversity through Design Thinking.
Dates: 9 – 12 December (Thu to Sun)
Venue: Poly World Trade Expo Center, Guangzhou
Guangzhou International Sourcing Center
Nan Fung International Convention and Exhibition Center