Paris 2019 – Firmly established as a major event for the global design community, Maison & Objet‘s 2019 Rising Talent Awards looks eastwards, exploring China’s fast-developing creative scene. On show the recent works by Frank Chou, Chen Furong, Mario Tsai, Hongjie Yang, Ximi Li and Bentu, 6 Chinese emerging designers contributing to shape a new national identity.
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Life in today’s China moves quickly, and the design industry’s rapid development reflects wider society’s growth and progress. This has impacted both how designers see themselves, and also how their work is viewed in China – and around the world.
“What is most interesting is the Chinese designer’s search for identity, to not just be a look-like of Western design but how to fold in the centuries-old rich Chinese craftmanship heritage and tradition.” Says Rising Talent Awards Jury Member Luca Nichetto. “There is much proof they are going in the right direction. I am very curious to see how this will evolve.”
“China has, for many years now, been the world’s industry supply chain leader and is fast turning into a hotbed for design opportunity for both local and global designers. Chinese designers are realising the power of their own proximity to an established manufacturing base, and are taking full advantage of it,” Adds Nichetto.
Frank Chou presented the minimal yet comfortable Middle chair inspired by traditional Chinese bamboo chairs, the modular and handmade Combo sofa bought up-to-date by witty combinations of leather, wool and fabrics and the geometric Stack table, with its mottled brass-coloured finishing.
“My work does not have obvious Oriental characteristics, but, actually, the design ideas and inspirations originate from deep-seated thoughts about modern and future Oriental lifestyles.”
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Founder of lighting, furniture and accessories brand WUU, Chen Furong presented aluminium tables and the streamlined Touchable Light lamps with interlocking components to allow self-adjustment, and vases inspired by the artwork of Italian painter Giorgio Morandi.
“Because of rapid economic development, Chinese craftsmanship has become less important. When the pace slows down, and we have more time to explore our feelings about life, then Chinese craftsmanship will develop further in contemporary society.”
Mario Tsai’s tactile collections offer a clean, modern aesthetic tuning with his sustainable motto “use less, design better”. Indeed, he is deeply committed to reducing excess material usage and improving both society and the environment through his works which include the aluminium tube-inspired Pig Side Table and the thoughtful, efficient Pure Desk.
Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Hongjie Yang presented pieces that appear naturally-formed, but if you look closer they reveal a high-tech imprint. Indeed, his aluminum Synthesis Monolith mirror, coffee table and bench are at once organic and machined.
“Both East and West have played big parts in my life – and in understanding both of them I find inspiration. These experiences made me as a person and a designer, and I am still evolving.”
Design director and founder of design brand Bentu Chen Xingyu works to meet the problems raised by a rapidly developing society, recycling materials that others may deem waste – like coal cinder, construction waste and bone ash – and transforming them into furniture, lighting and accessories. His latest Terrazzo Collection recycles ceramic waste offering hope for a sustainable furniture industry in the city of Foshan, the world’s largest ceramic industry hub.
Shanghai-based Ximi Li showcases the stainless steel, leather and oak Jiazhuang dressing table inspired by the traditional Chinese jewellery box, the simple and elegant stainless steel, walnut and mirror Yuan – circle – collection and the interlocking glass and marble cabinet/coffee table system.
“My works are influenced by my experiences in different countries – China, Italy and Russia – and regions, my understanding and feelings towards different cultures, as well as my imagination.”
All images: courtesy of Maison & Objet.