The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!


Four Seasons Shanghai, held at TENT as part of London Design Festival 2013, was an insight into the way Chinese designers are drawing tradition to create contemporary work. Mandi Keighran reports.



September 23rd, 2013

London Design Festival is an opportunity to celebrate the UK’s thriving design industry, but also a chance for Londoners to discover new design from around the world. This year, 17 Chinese design brands showcased their work at Four Seasons Shanghai, an exhibition organised by UNESCO Creative City (Shanghai) Promotion Office as part of TENT.


Design MVW

Each of the young designers presented their interpretation of the Shanghai lifestyle – from footwear and fashion accessories to furniture, bicycles, and musical instruments. These interpretations were wildly varied, but what tied the exhibition together was a shared interest in exploring how Chinese traditions – materials, practices, philosophies – could be understood in contemporary ways.


Hou Liang’s ‘Sit On Cloud’

Architect, Hou Liang exhibited his ‘Sit On Cloud’ collection of tables as part of the exhibition. The range is decidedly modern, and not immediately obvious in its references to Chinese culture. “It is more about the philosophical thinking behind Taoism, Buddhism, and Confusianism,” says Liang. “The shape is an international language, but the way it is rooted in philosophy is very Chinese.”


Hou Liang’s ‘Sit On Cloud’

The collection includes tea table and coffee table, designed for traditional Chinese tea ceremonies, as well as a Western-style dining table. “ ‘Sit On Cloud’ means you are freeing yourself,” says Liang. “If you could sit on a cloud, you could go anywhere you want. The collection is about liberating your mind and lifestyle.”


Zhang Zhoujie’s Digital Lab

This approach, which freely crosses between Eastern and Western influences, is familiar throughout the exhibition. Zhang Zhoujie, for example, has designed a collection of faceted steel furniture that combines the oriental concept of the metamorphosis of a cicada with high-tech digital design processes. The result is a range that speaks to an international audience, yet conceptually is firmly rooted in a Chinese way of thinking.


Jamy Yang’s ‘Serenity’

Jamy Yang of Yang Design presented ‘Serenity’, a traditional Chinese tea set designed with a minimal aesthetic for Royal Selangor, the world’s largest pewter manufacturer and retailer. Yang combines bamboo – a traditional Chinese material – with pewter to create the contemporary tea set that presents a Chinese way of life to an international audience. “Bamboo stands for the pursuit of rich spirits and simple way of living in Chinese culture,” says Yang.


Yang Jian’s Madebamboo collection

Madebamboo was another exhibiting brand that explored the potential of bamboo as a contemporary design material. The collection of lamps by designer Yang Jian uses traditional bamboo weaving techniques to create exciting modern forms.

Four Seasons Shanghai demonstrates clearly the breadth and diversity of design work currently coming out of the Chinese city, and the intelligent and often complex approach of these young Chinese designers.

Mandi Keighran is a design writer and editor based in London, and Editor-at-large of Indesign magazine

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed