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Design Shanghai 2017

Less than seven weeks away, this year’s show promises to be bigger, better and more creative than ever. Leading the event are Ross Urwin and Darrel Best, who talk to Tamsin Bradshaw about their vision for 2017.

Design Shanghai 2017

Design Shanghai has come along in leaps and bounds since Media 10 and Shanghai Art Fair first launched it in 2014. In 2016, it received 46,129 visitors from 73 countries – a year-on-year increase of 15 percent. For 2017, there’s are new Kitchen & Bathroom and Workplace sections in the pipeline, set to attract more manufacturers, designers, buyers and retailers than ever.

What makes Design Shanghai tick is Media 10’s extensive experience in the field, not to mention having Ross Urwin and Darrel Best at the helm. Media 10 brought the Co-Founders of Infrastructure on board in year one, tasking them with creating a trade event the international design community would sit up and pay attention to.

And the community is certainly taking notice, thanks to an impressive exhibitor list that includes international names, plus emerging and established Chinese designers. Also bringing in the visitors is the comprehensive seminar programme, Design Shanghai Design Forum. Past speakers include Patricia Urquiola, Marcel Wanders, Rossana Hu, Lyndon Neri, Ilse Crawford and Michael Young.

The 2017 event will run from 8 to 11 March, at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, a beautiful, neoclassical building at the heart of the city. Here, we speak to Best and Urwin about their plans to make this year’s event the best one yet.

What’s new for Design Shanghai 2017?

Darrel Best (DB): The last couple of years, we’ve been talking about we can integrate more into Shanghai as a design community. Each year, we’ve been trying to take over a bigger footprint of the city, and do more and more design installations.

For 2017, we’ll take over the whole of Xintiandi as part of DS in the City, with some key designers and artists from China. We’ve pulled 12 to 15 designers together to do interactional design within the suburb of Xintiandi up till the end of the show.

In conjunction with that, we’re also trying to open up all the key design studios in the city. We’re aiming to create basically a design trail in the vein of something like Clerkenwell Design Week.

Ross Urwin (RU): Until 2015, the feeling was quite rightly that we didn’t want to do too much in terms of installations outside of the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. You really want to grow your roots first. We feel that we’ve built such recognition now, we can afford to have this tour that we’re doing from different design showrooms, to a show these Japanese architects have put together at Xintiandi, then maybe back to the show for a drink at one of our bars. That way, it really feels like you’re part of the city.

DB: One of the things we’re trying to do is really nurture semi-established brands and designers and give them a better platform for exposure. Shows like Clerkenwell are creative and design-led, and that’s what keeps everyone engaged.

Who’s speaking at this year’s Forum?

RU: I’ve been trying to get Bethan Laura Wood over here for years, and this year, she’s signed up. She’s such a character, both in the way she designs and how she looks. We’ve also got Paul Coxsedge, Karim Rashid, and we’ve got Benjamin Hubert, among others.

What excites you most about this year’s show?

DB: Nine years ago when you were looking at Chinese design, everything felt derivative – a beautiful execution that was once removed from the original. Since then, there’s been this quantum leap.

RU: For me, it’s seeing how the event has evolved. We’re at this stage now where it’s actually blossoming. It’s great to see that hunger; people just want something exciting to look at.

And to bring all these amazing brands in from around the world, and to have these speakers that people have read about and are inspired by. There’s this sharing going on that’s a common joy in design.

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