Ole Bouman to run new international design museum in China
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Fumihiko Maki Shekou Museum

Ole Bouman named as director of V&A-backed design museum in China

News: Ole Bouman, former head of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, has been named as the director of a major new design museum developed in collaboration with the V&A in Shekou, Shenzhen.

Taking the helm this month, Dutch curator and critic Ole Bouman will lead the founding team for the Shekou Design Museum, which is due to open in late 2016.

Created by developer China Merchants Group in collaboration with London's V&A, the museum will occupy a building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki within the Sea World Arts and Culture Centre.

It will showcase work by international designers alongside major V&A exhibitions and provide a "platform for promoting new design ideas in China".

Ole Bouman
This image: Ole Bouman. Top image: The Shekou Design Museum and Sea World Arts and Culture Centre by Fumihiko Maki

Bouman was appointed by the developer, following his stint as creative director of the fifth Shenzhen Architecture and Urbanism Biennale in 2014. He had previously served as the director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute from 2007 t0 2013.

"He has a strong track record of finding innovative formats to produce, present, explore and discuss design, which we believe will be very beneficial to the Shekou Design Museum," said Zhang Lin, vice general manager of China Merchants Property Development.

"The museum aims to become a platform for promoting new design ideas in China as well as introducing the best international design to China. We hope Bouman’s appointment, alongside our collaboration with the V&A to establish the Shekou Design Museum, will help to encourage a wider understanding of design in China and increase productive dialogue between the design communities in China and the rest of the world."

Scheduled to open ahead of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed M+ museum of visual culture in Hong Kong – which is due to complete in 2017 – the developers claim the museum will be China's first major design institution.

Fumihiko Maki Shekou Museum
The Shekou Design Museum by Fumihiko Maki

Shekou is a highly industrialised district of Shenzhen on a peninsula in the Pearl River Delta. Following the city's designation as China's first special economic zone in the 1980s, Shekou attracted an international demographic, acting as the base for oil industry professionals working in the South China Seas. The entire district is developed solely by China Merchants Group.

Shenzhen became the first city in China designated as a UNESCO City of Design in 2008.

"In the last 35 years, the world has witnessed China achieve a better life for hundreds of millions of people. Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta region have played a big role in this history, whereas Shekou can be considered its cradle," said Ole Bouman. "It is really exciting to work on the next stage of this development by fostering a new quality agenda in design culture and industry, presented to a large audience, in one of the most pioneering cities of the world."

Bouman will work with a London-based team led by curator Brendan Cormier, who are responsible for the V&A's elements of the project, including a dedicated gallery space to show pieces from the museum's collection and a separate area for major exhibitions.

The V&A is launching a number of outposts around the world, with a dedicated building in Dundee by Kengo Kuma and a branch in east London on the former 2012 Olympic park.

Other museums expanding internationally include the Louvre, which is opening a building designed by Jean Nouvel in Abu Dhabi, and the Guggenheim.