ChrisB wrote:Designs created by Chinese designers in China will definitely be important in the next decades. The simple reason is economic growth and the size of the domestic market. However, it is also an untapped source for insights and inspiration.
If people would like to see how the future of Chinese design could look like, I would suggest taking a look at the Taiwanese designscene. Here is a parallel Chinese culture that was allowed to develop and flourish in freedom for the last 50 years. In that sense these Chinese designs are a lot more advanced, mature and refined than anything coming out of China at this moment.
One must also caution that a "design of philosophy" is not enough to be globally succesful. The designers in China need to question existing paradigms and ask hard questions. Unfortunately creative people often get thrown into prison for this like a certain artist... The path of the least resistance or Conformity is the way to stagnation.
Most importantly Chinese designers need to translate these answers into exciting, relevant and surprising designs. These designs need to stand on their own and be great even without the philosophical sauce. Too often I see that a good design philosophy is not followed through but rather used as an excuse to justify mediocre designs.
Thanks for your comments, ChrisB. Let me first include the definition of design of philosophy, as written in my post on my website, in case not everyone clicked on the original link:
"The term design of philosophy can be defined in two ways:
1. The designs originating from or inspired by one's belief in a particular philosophy
2. The effort to reconstruct or communicate a particular philosophy in the semblance of a designed product
"This is meant to be clearly distinct from the term design philosophy, which may be loosely defined as a designer's interpretation of what design is and what it should achieve. This, of course, varies greatly from one designer to another: one designer may strive for timeless aesthetics; another may chart a course along superior ergonomics; still another may chase functionality and feature sets. Naturally, the debate on which should rule above all else has not been settled, nor will it likely ever be.
"Design of philosophy (DoP for simplicity) more closely resembles terms such as design of products, design of buildings, design of interaction, design of graphics, etc. One may ask, "Why not, then, call it philosophical design, just like product design, interaction design, or interior design?" There are two results with this usage:
1. The term design, as the recipient noun, implies a concentration in the general field of design, i.e. the same level of categorization as product design or graphic design.
2. The term philosophical, already broad in its meaning, provides no framework for design.
"Being philosophical has always been a critical part of the design process, so it would be redundant to say philosophical design--just as it would be to define a car as a moving car for the sake of pointing out its ability to move. The term is abstract and without significant meaning.
"What about 'philosophy of design', as some may suggest? Wikipedia aptly defines 'philosophy of design' as "the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of design. The field is defined by an interest in a set of problems, or an interest in central or foundational concerns in design. In addition to these central problems for design as a whole, many philosophers of design consider these problems as they apply to particular disciplines (e.g. philosophy of art)...most practitioners are philosophers..." This is inherently a grander topic, because it grounds the importance and influence of design, but it is a pursuit that affects all design and is not something of which one can claim to be the authority.
"The core of 'design of philosophy' is still design and the skills involved therein. It is meant to be applicable in all traditional design categories and therefore does not limit itself to any single field. Work produced from this effort should not be motivated simply by market needs but by humanistic needs such as the need to learn something new, to understand one's environments, and to experience emotions like wonderment and satisfaction. These are the needs that are fundamental to being human, and design can be the platform with which we can fulfill them. This is the true goal for design of philosophy."
Now, here's my response to your thoughts:
1. Just to clarify--just in case it was misunderstood--I'm not limiting Chinese design to Chinese designers in China, nor any designer of Chinese descent. I'm actually promoting that a new Chinese design be a collaborative effort among designers and design thinkers--regardless of their ethnicity--who have a genuine interest to use Chinese philosophy as design inspiration to help develop this "design of philosophy".
2. Again, I would like to break the term "Chinese design" from what may be the conventional way to thinking about "_______ (insert culture) design", because I don't believe by taking cues from simply past art and symbols will further Chinese design as a whole (to simply redo a Chinese vase from the Ming dynasty won't move design forward, just like it won't do American design any good to remake the Ford Model T in carbon fiber, even if there's a market for it.)
3. Here's my take on Taiwanese design--again, generalized, because there are great designers in Taiwan just as there are great designers all around the world: it still very much falls under the trend of "international design". By that I mean, as a whole, Taiwanese design seldom captures the essence of its people's beliefs or culture. They're very much influenced by Japanese and European designs. The vast majority of the design work I've seen in Taiwan could have easily originated from other countries and other cultures. As advanced and refined Taiwanese design may be, it lacks the level of maturity that comes only from self-reflection. Furthermore, with a domestic marketplace that is stifling to original design (strictly talking about consumers' willingness to pay premium for good design) as a result of Taiwan's manufacturing background, it's hardly a place to cultivate young designers without them hitting career dead-ends within 5 years of professional life. To bring its domestic design level up, I believe Taiwanese designers will also need to subscribe to a design of philosophy.
4. As for the "creative people often get throw into prison" thought: yes, I admit, this is an ongoing issue and one to be IMPROVED. However, one should also realize the amount of political and social freedom that have come to the people in China over the last 60 years (I hesitate to go into history but I feel it's important to note)--and that's after 50 years of bloody Japanese occupation and WWII (est. 20 million Chinese died) and a brutal civil war. Just to put that in perspective: the same 60+ years ago, blacks and other minorities were far from being equal citizens in the U.S.--a country BUILT on freedom 180+ years prior--and were also often brutally oppressed as second-class people. Yes, human rights are always top priority, but we must also take care not to let sensitive political issues overly influence other issues. Your generalization of "creative people often get thrown into prison" is not taking into account the astounding progress China has made since the privatization of businesses in the 80s and the amount of freedom--even creative freedom--people of China have right now. If you'd like an analogy, this is roughly the same as the U.S. going from being an English colony, to Revolutionary War, through the Civil War, and up to the booming 2000s in about 70 years.
5. Exciting and surprising also do not a relevant design make. And to pour on a 'philosophical sauce' to justify mediocre designs is also not what I'm pushing for. In the same way that "design thinking" played a great role in moving design forward but now has been butchered by the many who don't follow through with it or have devolved it. However, that doesn't take away the essence of what design of philosophy can be. It's a thought process without a rigid method but instead requires deeply personal and cultural insight and exploration. I'm just a part of what it can become and it's simply my belief that Chinese design will only be truly beneficial and genuinely unique if it followed that path.