Since last winter I’ve been working for a design exhibition called Yù – Designing China 中国设计进行时 which will be held in the cloister of Milan University “Statale” [Via Festa del Perdono 7 20122 Milano], from 7 to 13 April. I’ve been involved since the beginning, coordinating the whole project, together with the Chinese curator Yang DongJiang and the Italian organizers [and founders] of the Milan Design Week: the Italian design magazine Interni. Apart from the exhibition itself, you are all invited to attend the press conference and forum of the exhibition and the following cocktail, to talk about where is the made-in-China heading to with some of the most important Chinese and Italian designers. 8 April 16:00, at Statale, Aula di Rappresentanza.
The Milan Design Week remains the main event of the year for most Chinese designers and manufacturers, and the Chinese presence in Milan during that week is massive and has been steadily increasing in the past ten years. This led to a partnership with the Beijing Design Week and allowed them to bring some projects from the 2012 BJDW to Zona Tortona in 2013 Milan Design Week. More and more Chinese furniture companies see the Milan Design Week as the arrival point of a path that starts as low cost manufacturers and brings them a new identity as design manufacturers that can aim at the world market. In the past years many Chinese companies tried to enter the Milan furniture fair iSaloni and got refused due to the poor quality of their products. In fact many furniture manufacturers show a wide gap between their high revenues and their low production quality, giving them the cash to sponsor their participation to first class design events but lacking the know-how and the products to exhibit. Most of the times Chinese CEOs are aware of this situation, but the market in China simply does not require them yet to upgrade their production quality, nevertheless they want to bring their brand to Milan in order to purchase a status and wield it at home. This is the reason why some Chinese companies have lately started to show interest for more flexible private design events spread in the old city instead of the design fair in Fiera Rho: they want to upgrade their brand value instead of establishing a connection with european customers, and what Interni does at the Statale is exactly that.
Yù – Designing China is an attempt to summarize current design trends in China, a glance at what Chinese designers can bring into the international market. The exhibition is sponsored by Beijing Easyhome Investment Holding Group Co., Ltd, and received the academic support of the China Interior Decoration Association.
Here is a short introduction to the exhibition and the curator:
” In Mandarin, the homophonic words are many. Their meanings and written forms cannot be discerned from their sound alone. This situation of uncertainty leaves the way open for many possibilities. The word Yù, for example, may imply successful planning, meaning that success cannot be achieved without planning or that unplanned endeavors will never succeed. As in the case of design, Yù is about the essence of appropriate formulations in various kinds of encounters with an uncertain outcome. As an ancient Chinese expression puts it, music and ritual should be applied in encounters with the good King Wen of the Zhou Dynasty, while arms should be taken up in encounters with the bad King Jie of the Xia Dynasty. The term encounters used here, also pronounced as Yù, refers to surprise and serendipity, where one’s desire to stop it from happening is sometimes futile. As an act of keeping a balance between desires to be satisfied and desires to be kept in check, designing something is a creative effort to combine feelings with landscapes or environments, so the very process of rendering designs is often an act of cultural representation. Yù also means a habitat and locality. And isn’t it true that designing is frequently a creative action happening under the objective constraints of social networks, in the wider sense of the term, and of environments? This exhibition makes ample use of the Yù theme, while keeping its written form and meaning in a state of uncertainty. This deliberate implication of uncertainty may actually demonstrate the very characteristics of design processes in China today.
在汉语中，同音字仅凭看到和听到的拼音、读音，无法尽知字形和字义。这其中的不 确定，恰恰包含着丰富的可能性。“Yù”，若循声检索，在汉语中有不下数十款同音字与之相对应。“Yù”既可以 是“凡事预则立，不预则废”之“预”，它强调了设计中的“计划”特质；也可以是“遇者,不期而会”的“遇”，吻合设计的偶然性与不确定性；还可以是“欲罢不能”的“欲”，以再现设计是欲望满足与克制之间的制衡；又或是“寓情于景”中的“寓”，展现设计的形式与表达；也许，又是“域民不可封疆之界”的”域”，强调设计的客观局限性;或“喻世明言”的“喻”，诉求设计所承载的价值观与人文思考……如此，不胜枚举。闻其声，辨其字，识其义。本次设计展取“Yù”字的声韵为主题，不限定对应的字形与字义，只期可由此蔓延开来，生发种种，以开放的态度来呈现当下中国设计发展进程的真实面貌。
Yang Dongjiang – Designer, Vice Director of Tsinghua University Art Museum; Professor of Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, Dean Assistant; Vice Director and Secretary General of Design Committee of China National Interior Decoration Association; Artistic Supervisor of Chinese Version of Trends.
杨冬江 – 清华大学艺术博物馆副馆长；清华大学美术学院教授、博士生导师、院长助理。中国室内装饰协会设计委员会副主任兼秘书长；《TRENDS诠释》中文版艺术总监。先后担任中国国际金属艺术展策展人、首届北京国际设计三年展组委会秘书长和《创意联结》单元联合策展人、第三届艺术与科学国际作品展组委会秘书长、2013上海艺术设计展策展人。作为总策划、总导演与中国中央电视台合作，拍摄完成大型系列片《为中国而设计—境外建筑师与中国当代建筑》（共18集），该片于2008年奥运会期间在中央电视台播出后，引发了全社会对中国当代建筑设计的广泛关注；2010年，与中央电视台合作完成大型系列片《为世博而设计》（共10集），该片已成为记录上海世博会优秀建筑从创意到建造全过程的重要文献。”
And here is the list of the participating Chinese designers:
张永和／Yung Ho Chang, 朱锫／Pei Zhu, 邵帆／Fan Shao, 陈耀光／YaoGuang Chen, 林学明／Sherman Lin, 梁建国／JianGuo Liang, 阮昊／Hao Ruan, 琚宾／Bin Ju, 郭锡恩&胡如珊／Rossana Hu & Lyndon Neri, 宋涛／Tao Song, 石大宇／DaYu Shi, 叶宇轩／Yu-Hsuan Yeh, 约翰&乔瓦娜&张雷/Christoph Johm & Jovana Bogdanovic & Lei Zhang, 贾伟／David Jia, 刘铁军／TieJun Liu, 陈大瑞／Derek Chen, 杨明洁／Jamy Yang, 张周捷／ZhouJie Zhang, 高扬／Yang Gao.[Update] here is the save the date of the conference with the list of the attending designers.