4 years ago

Onelife 27

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Shenzhen by Range Rover Sport PHEV | A first drive in the new Range Rover Evoque | Mid-century modernist architecture in Germany | George Bamford on what makes true luxury | Meet moon-walker Charlie Duke | Carnival subculture in Brazil

TRAVEL Just across town,

TRAVEL Just across town, Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab is a space that’s all about connecting the small guys – the makers of the city – with industrial design companies. “We were founded as a FabLab,” explains project coordinator Seth Li. An idea that began in the US, a FabLab provides project management, website design, hardware design – all the basics to help a maker understand how to make a product by themselves. “We provide fabrication machines to help people prototype their ideas. We’re open to everyone, and we host workshops and lectures. A maker can come here to chat and exchange ideas.” The exchange of ideas is something that’s happening at every level in Shenzhen. We step into the pre-cooled cabin of the Range Rover Sport, which we’d parked at a nearby charge point, and head to Shekou, the city’s original port area, to visit Design Society. “Well, Design Society isn’t a direct translation,” explains its deputy director, Rong Zhao. “In Chinese we’re called Design Interconnected. It reflects our vision of being a bridge – to the world, to the local community, and between makers and the industrial design companies of the city.” Eight years ago, China Merchants, a major corporation, enlisted Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki to design this cultural centerpiece THE CITY for the Shekou port area. In December 2017, this very public building opened its doors wide. “Shekou is a special place,” says Zhao. “It’s where the process of opening up began. It was a test tube of Shenzhen.” China Merchants began by making a port to connect to the outside world. With Design Society, they’re once again seeking global connections. “There’s a transformation taking place, from ’Made in China’ to ’Created in China’,” says Zhao. “Shenzhen was the very first Chinese city to be awarded UNESCO City of Design in 2008. We set out to build on this with the first initiative to bring a European state museum into China.” The result is a collaboration with London’s THE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS IS HAPPENING AT EVERY LEVEL IN SHENZHEN. THE MIXING OF ARTISTRY AND INNOVATION IS PERMEATING Victoria and Albert Museum that includes a permanent V&A Gallery at Design Society and the sharing of ideas. “It’s an adventure for both sides,” says Zhao. “We’ve introduced them to design associations, tech firms and schools in Shenzhen. They’ve brought us ideas like their community-focused Rapid Response Collecting project, where members of the public are asked to donate objects that they feel represent their community. As a result, a Shenzhen school uniform is now part of V&A’s permanent collection.” Even the architecture in which Design Society is housed is about engaging Shenzheners. “Everything is open,” explains Zhao. “You can move seamlessly from inside to outside. There are staircases connecting a roof park with the surrounding parks. We’ve given the land back to the public in its entirety.” And there is a sense of giving back culturally, too. The most recent exhibition – titled Craft: The Reset – celebrated traditional Chinese crafts of paper, furniture and ceramic making, but it celebrates them for, and in, the 21st century Chinese city. “More than ever, modern, fast places shouldn’t forget about craft,” says Jovana Bogdanovic, one of Hangzhou-based design trio PINWU, whose celebrated paper chair for Hermes is part of the show. “In many ways, craft influences architecture, design, lifestyle and cuisine.” This mixing of artistry and innovation is now permeating the city. At the nearby Artron Arts Centre, an installation by renowned Chinese pyrotechnic artist Cai Guo-Qiang is displayed against a backdrop of the world’s largest wall of books, a 98ft-tall, 164ft-long library of art history. Shenzhen is now shaping a new role for itself in the world through its creative response to technology, urban culture and the need for a sustainable future, and whichever direction that takes, what Shenzhen will never do is stand still. Progress is made and the future is shaped by those who move – and if you move at Shenzhen speed, you’ll be a pacesetter. Design Society’s Rong Zhao (top) sees her organization as building cultural bridges to the wider world. Right: the record-setting book wall, at Artron Centre 56



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Land Rover Magazine 39


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