Virtual Design Festival

"I hope this offers a glimmer of hope that things are getting better" says Aric Chen

Life in Shanghai is slowly getting back to normal, reports curator Aric Chen in this video message recorded for Virtual Design Festival on his first day in the fresh air after 14 days of home quarantine.

Chen, the curatorial director of the Design Miami fair, recorded the message from the street on Sunday 12 April – the day his mandatory 14-day quarantine ended.

"I'm shooting this outside partly just because I can," says Chen. "I just got out of a home quarantine, a mandatory 14-day home quarantine yesterday that was very strictly enforced."

"Everyone was very kind"

"I had daily visits by a nurse, a sensor on my door," he adds. "Though I have to say everyone was very kind and nice and polite. I even got a care package sent to me by the authorities."

Chen, a US citizen based in Shanghai, flew from Hong Kong to Shanghai on 27 March, just hours before the Chinese authorities barred foreign passport-holders from entering the country due to coronavirus.

"It caps off more than two months during which I somehow stayed a half-step ahead of the pandemic as it spread from China to the Middle East, Europe and the USA, before I finally made it back to Asia," Chen wrote in an email that accompanied his video submission.

This was Chen's second period of 14-day home quarantine: he went through his first period of mandatory self-isolation in Shanghai in February, after returning home from the middle east. He has been tested twice for coronavirus, with negative results each time.

"There are signs of life on the streets of Shanghai"

"I'm obviously much happier to be outside today," Chen says in the video. "And as you can see, there are signs of life out on the streets of Shanghai now. People are out and about. The shops seem busy. I had dinner plans last night. I have some meetings this week; like real meetings with people, in person."

"And, you know, we're certainly not out, we're certainly not in the clear yet," he adds. "There are still a lot of restrictions and checks in place, but I hope this offers a little bit of a glimmer of hope that things can, will and are getting better."


"And for the moment, at least, today is a very good day and I hope that all of you start having a lot more good days very soon as well. Hang in there," he continues.

China was the first country to introduce movement restrictions to counter the Covid-19 pandemic, which started in Wuhan late last year. Last month, architects and designers in China told Dezeen that things were starting to return to normal.

Send us a video message

In the run-up to the launch of Virtual Design Festival on Wednesday, Dezeen invited architects, designers, artists and industry figures to record video messages from lockdown. We also put out an open call for submissions from readers - read the brief here.

We plan to publish one clip every day during the festival, plus a montage featuring over 30 of the messages we've already received will be published on Wednesday to launch VDF.

Virtual Design Festival

Virtual Design Festival runs from 15 April to 20 June. For more information, or to be added to the mailing list, contact us at [email protected].