Can China design for the needs of the world?


As China's economy is in a current phase of change, we believe Design should play a much larger and important role in the future. However, we often hear that Chinese Brands are not confident or even capable enough to enter the global stage. We also hear another voice that "Chinese Design" is also not ready for the world.

So we decided to host a debate with leaders from 20 different business, firms and institutions in Shanghai, including one of the world’s leading experts and founders of our design industry Donald Norman.

The topic of the debate was: Is Chinese design ready for the world? Senior managers, start-up founders, senior designers and college professors, we have participants with all kinds of background joined the debate. Some believed that the manufacture transformation has provided China the best opportunity to debut on the global stage; some believed that the Chinese design is limited by the corporation system. Obstacles are still waiting to be solved as the design industry in China have not developed a systematic strategy. 

Donald Norman closed the debate with an inspirational comment: “…The consumers of the world, I don’t think they ask where was this designed or where was this made. And I for all, I know there are many Chinese things that I buy without even being careful, that could be designed and manufactured in China. When I look around in this room I couldn’t tell if this is made and designed in China or not. But that’s part of the argument before: is there anything unique about Chinese design? Not yet. Except for the tea ceremony.” 


The goal of the debate was not about having an absolute answer. But we were hoping to inspire people to think in a different perspective and explore potential possibilities.