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Aric Chen appointed creative director of Beijing Design Week

Aric Chen has been appointed creative director of the inaugural Beijing Design Week, to take place in 2011. See press release below.

Under the auspices of the Municipality of Beijing, China’s capital will become an international platform for design with the inauguration of a new Beijing Design Week (BJDW) in 2011. The 6-day affair will feature a Global Design Summit alongside exhibitions, events and installations throughout the city, including in Tiananmen Square during China’s October 1 National Day celebrations. Following China’s international success in creative areas like contemporary art, film and performance, BJDW aims to become the country’s premier annual design event at a moment when design has become a national priority.

“As Beijing works towards becoming a more environmentally-friendly, high-tech and culturally-enriched city, it is clear that design must play a crucial role,” says Beijing Vice Mayor Gou Zhongwen. “We welcome the world to join us as we move towards a design-driven future.”
The new BJDW, which follows a pilot effort mounted in 2009, is scheduled to run from September 28 to October 3, 2011. Participants will include designers, institutions, brands, galleries, governments and other entities, both from China and abroad.


Taking the theme “Design Landing,” the new Beijing Design Week aims to put the city’s design ambitions to action while solidifying China’s growing awareness of, and commitment to, design. The country is moving away from an economic model based on low-cost manufacturing towards one emphasizing innovation, creativity and value-added products. At the same time, China’s unprecedented urbanization and social and environmental challenges call for new solutions, while an increasingly affluent population is growing consumer demand for better-designed goods.

In this context, BJDW will serve as a showcase for international and Chinese design talent. But just as important, it will act as a meeting place and laboratory—an international marketplace of ideas, and an incubator for a Chinese design culture that is still in its beginning stages.
“These are early days for design in Beijing and China, and that’s the ethos we want to capture: that of a work-in-progress with incredible possibilities,” says Aric Chen, BJDW’s creative director. “Beijing Design Week is an opportunity to support and perhaps even help guide this process.”

“As we all know, China has been in the spotlight, and now attention is turning to Chinese design,” says Yanling Duan, BJDW’s communications and programming director. “There’s a lot of curiosity, and there are also lots of expectations. We hope Beijing Design Week can help fulfill them.”


As the historic, political and cultural center of China—as well as a media, commercial, industrial, scientific and educational hub—Beijing is uniquely positioned to take a leading role in the country’s design evolution. Two years after the Olympics, the Chinese capital continues to develop at a rapid pace, adding to its already rich layering of imperial patrimony and traditional alleyways alongside Mao-era monuments and some of the world’s most radical new architecture.

From the fashionable Sanlitun area and the charming hutongs of Old Beijing to Tiananmen Square and the converted factory district of the 798 Art Zone, BJDW will mount events across the city so as to activate it with design.


The highlight of BJDW 2011 will be a large-scale installation in Tiananmen Square. Mounted during October 1, the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, this unprecedented effort will become a focal point for China’s National Day celebrations. As such, it will transform the symbolic heart of China into a showcase for the international design community—emphasizing the power of design in enriching public life.


As part of its kick-off efforts, BJDW has forged a partnership with the London Design Festival, one of the world’s preeminent design events attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year in the British capital. As part of the agreement, London has been designated the Guest City for BJDW 2011, a cooperation that will include bringing some of the LDF’s cutting-edge content to Beijing. The partnership will be publicly announced at a luncheon in London, during the LDF, on September 20.

Says LDF director Ben Evans: “We are very excited by the opportunity to work closely with Beijing Design Week and hope that together we will be able to create new projects that have a global impact.”

About Beijing Design Week

Launching in 2011, after a pilot effort in 2009, Beijing Design Week is an initiative of the Municipality of Beijing. Featuring exhibitions, conferences, installations and other activities citywide, with both Chinese and international partners, it aims to serve as a launchpad for China’s developing design culture and a platform for Beijing’s emergence as a design and creative capital.

The host organizer of Beijing Design Week is Gehua Cultural Development Group, a leading state-owned enterprise dedicated to the creation and promotion of culture.

BJDW’s visual identity has been designed by Michael Rock and Xin Jing of the renowned New York firm 2x4.


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