Preview: Design Shanghai 03.03.16

Design Shanghai 1

From product launches to bespoke installations and collectible design, here’s what Icon is looking forward to at this year’s fair, as well as a closer look at the young Chinese brands taking the country by storm

More than 300 exhibitors from China and abroad will show off their wares at the third edition of Design Shanghai, which kicks off on 9 March. Cassina, Vitra, Moroso and Hay are among the international brands that will display designs at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, alongside celebrated local designers, large-scale installations and a programme of high-profile talks.

Design Shanghai is both a celebration and a reflection of the thriving creative industry that has been emerging in China and the city itself in recent years. The total number of design practitioners in Mainland China is now estimated to be 10 million and industry revenue reached $622.6bn in 2015.

This dynamism is reflected in the large number of Chinese designers participating in the 2016 edition of Design Shanghai – more than half the exhibitors will be home grown, over 42,000 visitors are expected to attend the four-day event.

Design Shanghai 2

Maxmarko’s collection is both minimal and distinctively Chinese


Domus Tiandi

One of the most influential design dealerships in China, Domus Tiandi represents a range of top Italian brands, from B&B Italia to Foscarini, and last year worked with Minotti to open its biggest flagship store in Shanghai. Founded by Sammy Ren and Cathy Zhang, who are responsible for a series of high-end restaurants across the country, it plans to launch its own brand – Tiandi – this year. As well as being one of the main partners of Design Shanghai 2016, it will display some of its collection in the Contemporary Design hall.

Design Shanghai 9

Xiang Sheng collection by Design MVW

Design MVW

Founded in Shanghai by Chinese designer Xu Ming and French architect Virginie Moriette, Design MVW works across the fields of architecture, interiors and furniture design. At Design Shanghai's Collectibles Hall they will be launching their new collection of bronze pieces, Xiang Sheng.

André Fu

The Hong Kong-based Cambridge-educated designer is best known for designing hotels and restaurants, but also creates retail and exhibition spaces. Projects in the pipeline for his studio AFSO include the Park Hyatt Resort in Phuket, Thailand, and Bangkok‘s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. He will be speaking as part of the talks programme during Design Shanghai.

Design Shanghai 4

Nov sofa from Frank Chou’s popular Oriental series

Frank Chou Design Studio

With a degree in wood science, Beijing-based Frank Chou was mentored by Italian industrial engineer Marcello Bennati and takes influence from both European and Chinese traditions. In the Contemporary Design hall, his eponymous studio will show the Oriental series and unveil the metal and fabric Suit chair and stool.

Design Shanghai 3

Part of the 2015 Symmetry series by furniture and homeware
brand WUU


The furniture and homeware brand, which last year won the Emerging Chinese Designers Platform award, experiments with materials and techniques to produce its striking range of tools, containers, furniture and even mobile-phone covers. WUU will present its collections in the Contemporary Design hall.


The award-winning practice began life as a furniture and products research and development centre, transforming into a fully fledged brand in 2000. Its collection has a Scandinavian feel, but also an unmistakably Chinese one. Its founder Derek Chen will speak as part of the talks programme.

Design Shanghai 5

Bamboo wall clock by EY Products

EY Products

Its name sounds like “surprise” in Chinese, and Jerry Huang and Eva Zhou – the designers behind this young practice – aim to do just that with its quirky range of furniture and household items, including the quietly emotive wooden Moon Lamps. It will show these and more in the Contemporary Design hall.





Produced in association with Shanghai Promotion Center for City of Design


Design Shanghai 6

Furniture brand Handvärk will be among those showing products at the Danish pavilion


Product launches

While many international brands are showing products that are new to Asia, others have chosen to have their worldwide launches at Design Shanghai. Sebastian Wrong, for example, is launching Neu 10, a new version of his moulded plastic chair for Wrong for Hay, while Magis will present Konstantin Grcic‘s Sam Son cartoony armchair. A large proportion of the new launches this year will come from Chinese designers, with Frank Chou Design Studio and Ziinlife among the brands showing off new furniture and products.

Design Shanghai 8

Konstantin Grcic’s Sam Son plastic armchair for Magis comes in four different colours

Scandinavian presence

For the second year, Denmark will have its own pavilion at Design Shanghai, where it will present a range of established and emerging brands that embody the country’s design ethos, including Muuto, Handvärk and Room Copenhagen. Its neighbour, Sweden, will this year also have a pavilion of its own. Overleaf, the Danish consulate’s Casper Freddie tells us more about why his country is taking such an interest in Shanghai.

Collectible design

Morgan Morris, the co-founder of Paris- and Beijing-based consultancy Perfect Crossovers, will be returning as the curator of the Collectible Design hall, which will this year collaborate with the celebrated New York design fair, The Salon Art + Design. Limited-edition design from around the world will sit alongside and amid specially designed architecture and interiors. Practices like Zaha Hadid and Se London will be joined by new exhibitors such as Chinese studio JoMo Design.

Design Shanghai 7

British Designer Lee Broom at last year’s seminar programme


Among this year’s installations will be a bespoke version of designer Kim Thomé’s Zotem – a vivid display of Swarovski crystals that create a hypnotic visual illusion – first shown at the V&A in London during London Design Festival, and Petra Krausova’s shape-shifting glass sculpture, Supernova. Elsewhere, Chinese designer Jamy Yang will present his installation, New Craftsmanship by Yang House, which encourages the audience to discover traditional Chinese handcrafts and reflect on how they can blend with modern aesthetics
and lifestyles.


A roster of high-profile speakers, including Matthew Hilton, Benjamin Hubert and André Fu will speak at the event on the theme “the language of design”. The sessions will explore how design, while rooted – like a language – in a place’s specific culture and history, can engage in a dialogue with other disciplines and countries.

Design Shanghai takes place from 9 to 12 March 2016 at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre


Leave a comment

Click to show