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2017.12.01 Fri, by Ran Dian
Design Society, Shenzhen opens December 2017

Press Release

China’s first design hub launches this week with Mining the Digital, Values of Design curated by London’s V&A Museum and Nurturing Dreams, dedicated to the center’s renowned architect Fumihiko Maki.

—Innovative cultural initiative by 145-year-old China Merchants Group
—China’s first gallery curated by an international museum partner as part of a collaboration with the V&A, London
—First building designed by legendary Fumihiko Maki in China
—Inaugural exhibition programme including Minding the Digital at the Main Gallery, Values of Design at the V&A Gallery, and Nurturing Dreams in Recent Work dedicated to Maki’s philosophy and career

The Sea World Culture and Arts Center’s highly anticipated launch this December signifies the opening of the region’s first dedicated cultural design hub, programmed and operated by the new innovative and collaborative platform Design Society. Opening to the public on 2 December 2017 in Shenzhen, Design Society will present three exhibitions and a range of curated activities throughout the opening weekend. With innovation at its core, Design Society will adhere to the pioneering spirit of Shenzhen, and act as a catalyst for new creativity by hosting exhibitions and events, developing learning programs and allowing for variety of spaces that will demonstrate the power of design today and will incubate new talents and nurture opportunities for the creative industries in the future.

Design Society was founded by China Merchants Shekou (CMSK), a company engaged in comprehensive urban development under the 145-year-old China Merchants Group. By committing this area of land on the harbour front in Shekou, CMSK aims to strengthen sustainable growth of the area via further activating the local design industry throughout the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Design Society is the fruition of a unique and pioneering collaboration between CMSK and the leading museum of art, design and performance, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, who have provided professional advice and training, and will open a dedicated V&A Gallery devoted to international design history as part of the space.

More than just a culture destination, Design Society is a place to explore the art of design and to promote the growth and development of design as an industry in Shenzhen. Visitors will be presented with thought-provoking and engaging experiences enhancing their understanding of design and in turn strengthening China’s connection to the rest of the world as a global cultural player.

“Design Society will connect the creative industries of China to the world,” says Ole Bouman, Director of Design Society. “By embracing a vital combination of a non-profit organization and a professional venue, Design Society presents a self-sustainable design hub that will offer an expanding and energetic environment that continues to welcome and embrace cultural and re- lated institutions and partners to further enrich this conversation. We are proud to have reached the stage where we can share this vision with the community here, the design world and global visitors.”

“CMSK, under the century-old China Merchants Group (CMG) is a company dedicated to compre- hensive urban development projects, says Xu Yongjun, General Manager of CMSK. “Through Design Society, CMSK hope to continue to support innovation and creativity, and give back to the community and people of Shenzhen, by creating better opportunities and quality of life for those who live and work in the city.”

The Building
The Sea World Culture and Arts Center (SWCAC) will be the first building to open in China by renowned architectural studio Maki and Associates, led by legendary Fumihiko Maki. Housed in the purpose-built Sea World Culture and Arts Center, Design Society presents a cultural des- tination specifically designed to enhance visitor interaction. The building has three cantilevered volumes atop a de-constructed plinth, architecturally enabling the roof to have three different vantage points. Visitors will be able to take in spectacular views of the city, the park, mountains and the sea, which present the diversity of landscape in Shekou, while being immersed in an in- terconnected space designed to host a variety of cultural activities and events and inspired by its unique geographical and urban location.

Covering a footprint of 26,000 square metres with 71,000 square metres of floor space over six floors (four above ground and two below), SWCAC will house galleries and exhibition areas, a theatre and a multi-purpose hall. A diverse range of retail and F&B spaces will also be on offer, providing additional design outlets for visitors including the KF Gallery and Extra Time Café, amongst many others and more to join.

In the context of the densely constructed city of Shenzhen, Maki has allowed space for nature to act in harmony with the urban surrounds. International visitors and local residents alike will be encouraged to enjoy outdoor areas, which include folding grass planes, a landscaped park and an open roof garden that can be animated with performances and events.

Inaugural Exhibitions
Three opening exhibitions will inaugurate the space. The large-scale speculative Minding the Digital, with a space designed by MVRDV, reflects on the unprecedented impact of digitalisa- tion through design, exploring the role of design as a mediator between technology and human values. Adjacent, Design Society’s collaborative partnership with the V&A – the first of its kind between an international museum and Chinese institution – the V&A presents Values of Design in the V&A Gallery, which has been designed by British practice Sam Jacob Studio. Values of De- sign will demonstrate a broad examination of the relationship between values and design of over 250 objects from 900AD to the present day, many of which are drawn from the V&A’s permanent collection.

Inside Maki’s Mind
The third exhibition is Nurturing Dreams in Recent Work: Fumihiko Maki + Maki and Associates, which provides an opportunity to look at the structure of the newly opened SWCAC and examine Maki’s philosophy of design. By focusing on the underlying concepts behind the building against his previous projects, which have been developed over sixty years of architectural practice, this exhibition takes the visitor on an imaginary tour through his repertoire, culminating at his latest creation where they stand.

Public Programme
A two-day public opening programme on 2 and 3 December is divided into categories for visitor experience, engagement and enticement to cater to all audiences with ‘Design Conference’, ‘De- sign Workshop’ and ‘Design Funfair’ zones. Key events will include panels with recognised inter- national speakers, such as Fumihiko Maki, John Sorrell (Chairman of London Design Week), Tim Reeve (Deputy Director of V&A Museum), Hunter Tura (CEO of Bruce Mau Design), Sam Jacob (Architect & Designer) and many other invited guest speakers, who will discuss topics covering the global impact of creative industries. Additional creative events, such as guided tours, work- shops, performances and outdoor concerts will be open for all ages to attend.

Opening Exhibition
· Values of Design

2 December 2017 – 4 August 2019

· Minding the Digital

2 December 2017 – 3 June 2018

· Nurturing Dreams in Recent Work: Fumihiko Maki + Maki and Associates

2 December 2017 – 30 June 2018

Details of the Public Opening Programme

International conference: Creative practices to Design Society

Location: Mountain View Theater, 4/F, Horizon Hall
Time: 2 December 2017, 9:00 – 18:00

China Meets UK in Design 9:30 – 11:30
Designing Culture, Place-making, Cultural Cities 11:45 – 13:15
Values of Design Exhibition Panel Discussion 14:30 – 16:00
Minding the Digital Exhibition Panel Discussion 16:15 – 18:00

Design Society Workshop x Tapigami – Shaping the Future of City

Location: Central Plaza, 1/F, SWCAC
Time: 2 – 3 December 2017, 10:00 – 18:00