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Dutch designers at Beijing Design Week

Running from 29 September to 6 October, Beijing Design Week (BJDW) sees Dutch design sprinkled throughout the festival.

By Katie Dominy / 04-10-2012

Organized under the umbrella title of NL@BJDW, the programme of Dutch design on show ranges from exhibitions to talks and presentations. Gijs Bakker came to discuss Luxury and Craft and BJDW’s key exhibition GeoCity Smart City includes work by product designer Dirk van der Kooij.

Henny van Nistelrooy has an exhibition called Craft and Industry at C-Space Gallery as part of Caochangdi CCD, The Community – a design programme that initiates art and design events in this cultural art & design district of the city. spoke to Van Nistelrooy. “The exhibition is about how craft can help innovate in industry and vice versa and shows industrially made lampshades next to handmade furniture pieces. Both have woven textiles at their core, although the lampshades are made on sophisticated weaving machinery while the furniture results from meticulous handwork, editions handmade in my studio here in Beijing. My earlier experiences of learning to weave on a handloom have been crucial for these new products.”

How did you come to be invited to Caochangdi Community?
“It started off with a meeting I had with Aric Chen, creative director of Beijing Design Week, earlier in the year. He pointed me towards Caochangdi as a good fit for the work I’m making. Once here I met with Beatrice Leanza of Bao Atelier who are in charge of this district and I got quickly excited about the potential of showing my work here.”

What are your impressions of Beijing Design Week?
“As this is the first time I’m showing my work in China, I spent the first three days mainly at my exhibition, so my impression is really about the visitors that came to see the work. What’s most noticeable to me is the interest from a broader public compared to the festivals/fairs I know from Europe. This is refreshing from a designer’s point of view. Normally at design shows you see visitors from trade, industry and peers - they are coming here too though. I’m also getting direct contact with potential costumers and that’s very valuable, especially as I’m new to China. The visitors to my show are curious and ask questions.”

In tandem with the Premsela exhibition Basic Instincts, Dutch fashion in context, showing at Shenzhen’s OCT Gallery September 29 to November 22 2012, two designers from the exhibition, Lex Pott and Anne de Grijff, discussed their work at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing as part of a talks programme hosted by Premsela and the Netherlands Architecture Institute.

We spoke to Lex Pott. “Yesterday we had the lecture at the UCCA and it went very well. There were a lot of Chinese students from art and design schools, as well as press and other visitors. Dutch design for me is mostly about the storytelling and processes leading to the design - not specifically the result itself. What I tried to do is show my method of working through pictures and experiments. This way of working generated a lot of enthusiasm with the Chinese visitors. They are much more practical and less conceptual. I got the feeling that the Chinese are extremely hungry for knowledge in general but also very much into the exploration of design.

“The organization and the whole event was organized very well and looks as if it had existed for longer than two years. Hopefully next year I can participate in the BJDW on an exchange level - by presenting new work and collaborations instead of an exported display of Dutch work. The contacts here hopefully will lead to new projects or collaborations.”

We asked Anne de Grijff about the talk and BJDW. “The people in the audience were very interested and moved by the lectures. They said that they especially liked our concepts and our experimental way of working. I noticed that there is a lot of interest in design and architecture from the Netherlands. China is growing and developing a lot at the moment; you can feel and see this as well in the Design Week. They are willing to learn and open to Dutch design culture. I think the lectures are very good, because it tells them more about the conceptual way of thinking and it can add value to the Chinese design culture. Also I think it can lead to new collaborations between Chinese and Dutch designers and companies.”
And final words to Lex Pott -

“The Beijing design week felt like a huge force that hasn't reached it full bloom yet, so it feels very inspiring to participate in the growth of design. The energy in China feels extremely nice for the future of design. The whole trip for Basic Instincts by Premsela and the Dutch DFA programme for the BJDW felt like a rollercoaster ride! Definitely a rollercoaster that I want to visit more often!”

Main image: Craft & Industry, Henny van Nistelrooy
Other images: 1. Daybed, Craft & Industry, Henny van Nistelrooy 2. Screen, Craft & Industry, Henny van Nistelrooy 3. Basic Exstincts talk, BJDW 4. Fragments of Nature, Lex Pott 5. Basic Instincts exhibition, Shenzhen, Photo Lex Pott 6. Basic Instincts exhibition, Shenzhen, Photo Lex Pott 7. Anne de Grijff , autumn/winter 2011 pull up blazer, photo by: Bill Tanaka 8. Basic Instincts exhibition, Shenzhen, photo Anne de Grijff

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