Yoko_Portrait

Guest Editor Yoko Choy Explores the Work in Progress That is Chinese Design

Chinese design is still finding its way and is too diverse to be captured in a neat single identity. So while the global community may be eager to create a brand for this emerging body of work, defining it is still a work in progress. In the 15 years I’ve been working as a design journalist, I’ve been asked constantly, “What is Chinese Design”? I, too, have been asking myself that same question. And I feel that now I’m finally seeing an answer (or answers) and am proud to share my discoveries, some of which formed the basis for my guest-editor curation this week.
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The biggest part of the fair took place at the former gas power plant recently re-christened as 751 D-Park. Next to the city's once-hip 798 arts district, it's dedicated to fostering Beijing's design industry. The wood was part of a larger installation by students from Tsinghua University and the Swiss school EPFL, who went through 600 pallets and 11,500 feet of rope.

At Beijing Design Week

When you live all the way around the globe, visiting China for the first time for any reason — even for work, even for an international design fair, even to a sprawling modern metropolis like Beijing — is going to be mostly about visiting China for the first time. The way the pollution shocks your system, the deliciousness of the food: These are the kinds of experiences you begin eagerly tracking the moment you leave the airport. It's no wonder, then, that I enjoyed Beijing Design Week so much — almost all of the work, whether international or Chinese in origin, was presented in ways that made you feel like you couldn't have been anywhere else.
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Zijlmans and Jongenelis photographed ten subjects (plus tables, port-a-pottys, and three potted conifers) ten times for ten consecutive afternoons during a hot summer month in 2006, each day moving the action closer to the horizon. “When we started the project, we didn’t expect such heavy shadows,” says Jongenelis. “To get the same light in each picture, we made a simple sundial. When the shadow hit one rock, we started, and when it hit another, we stopped.”

Ten to One, by Sylvie Zijlmans & Hewald Jongenelis

It’s not so inconceivable that a painting or sculpture would take years to complete, accumulating layers of meaning as the artist played with contour or color. But a photograph? Dutch husband-and-wife duo Sylvie Zijlmans and Hewald Jongenelis spent nearly four years on Ten to One, a large-scale photograph on view now at Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
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