China Design Market


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Myth and Truth About China Design Market

When you stand in the middle of two design worlds (U.S. and China), you may feel a little lost right now. Designers in the U.S. are afraid of losing their jobs to China with a 8:1 pricing difference; whereas China corporations are also worried that the competitive quality of foreign imported products into China are going to wipe out its internal brands.

Are you worried as a designer in the U.S. that design jobs will migrate to China? Are you concerned about the increasingly competitive pricing on design jobs and its resultant outsourcing? Are you curious about the quality of design work over there? You have never been to China but heard about China's staggering GDP growth rate of 9.1%* and its emerging 1.3 billion people market (almost 5 times the size of the U.S. population). You have read in Business Week or design magazines about all the hype in China, but what's the real truth? Being concerned is one thing, but being fear struck and cynical without learning about the facts is far worse.

First lets clear out the common myth about design environment in China.

Myth 1: China's market is in Beijing & Shanghai. Truth: China has 9 economic zones designated by the government which determines the rise of economic development in cities of these regions.

Myth 2: Localization means Chinese translation. Truth: Products need to fit the needs of China users not only in terms of language but also their cultural thought model, usage behaviors and political context.

Myth 3: Business success in China is done via optimizing operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness and gaining market share. Truth: Business success in China predominantly comes from building successful relationships and trust.

<strong>Survival kit for foreign Designers in China:</strong>

1. Learn PuTongHua Do not assume that English is the international business language in China. If you are lucky, you might work with Mainland Chinese people who speaks English. Even then, do not automatically assume that Mainland Chinese speaking English will mean that they understand you conceptually. Often times, miscommunication arises when you think the other party understands you but they really don't and are culturally resistant to ask clarifying questions. If you are in the food chain where you need to travel to China to either oversee manufacturing in China or design for the China market, it is a good idea to learn the Chinese national language: PuTongHua. Your Chinese associates will be taken by surprise, and this will move you miles ahead in the game. For a good start, when meeting someone new, say: "Ni hao ma," meaning "How are you?"

2. See China for yourself If you have never been to China but your work is inseparable from China, take some advice from a traditional Chinese proverb: "Rather than read ten thousand pages of a book, its better to walk ten thousand miles." Fear is driven by "not knowing." Be there and see China for yourself. The media could very well tint your perception of China, and the China experience could be way beyond your expectations. (There are no "fortune cookies" in China, by the way.)

3. "Do as the Romans Do" In China, the rules of the game are different. What works in the U.S. might not apply to China, and insisting on how things should work in another culture is not a very good idea. Immersing yourself into the culture, you might find that certain concepts that you take for granted such as perception of time, concept of money, philosophical world-view, policies, arts, concept of law are not the same in China. One has to understand that working in China is not only working in another country, it's also working in another culture that has a history steeped in a very different political system based on a planned economy with state-driven policies. Working against the grain will only frustrate foreign companies, pushing them to retreat.

<strong>How will the Olympic Games affect China domestic design?</strong>

Olympic games is a hot topic for a long time. The bird structure or its interior and building decoration all takes designers' creativity. Those who take their part in this big project will feel very pride and full of satisfaction.

Xiao Yong who design the Olympic medals said: €œThe Olympic Games is not a new topic. It is linked with China since around the year 2000. All designers are excited. Each one of them should actively make their own effort to take part in. Many projects are open for bidding. The participants should include capable designers, institutes, groups, and schools of design. It is a test for us to prove our teaching and designing abilities. It strengthened our confident. It is an opportunity as well as a test.€ Amazing Design in various aspects of the Olympic games, such as the medal design, the clothing, the gift toys design, gives the world a lot of surprises. China Design Now places exhibits in the context of China's social, cultural and economic reforms over the last 25 years, providing both a critical survey and a narrative that enables visitors to see how China's new design and consumer culture has developed, what its driving forces are and where it is going. China Design Now will include case studies of influential individuals, companies and organizations that have played an important role in shaping aspirations in today's China. This exhibition captures an extraordinary moment in Chinese design and the rise of China's consumer society. There is truly a sense of design frenzy in China right now." said Lauren Parker, co curator of the exhibition. The Victoria And Albert Museum's spring exhibition.

China Design Now, will be the first in the UK to explore the recent explosion of new design in China and the first to attempt to understand the impact of rapid economic development on architecture and design in China's major cities. The exhibition will be on view from 15 March to 13 July 2008.     
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