September 27, 2016 - Design Society - Initial public program announced
e-flux Architecture
September 27, 2016
September 27, 2016

Design Society

Rendering of the Sea World Culture and Arts Centre by Maki & Associates. Courtesy Design Society.

Initial public program announced
Weibo / Instagram

Initial public program announced
Weibo / Instagram

The first public programming by Design Society will take place during London Design Festival and Beijing Design Week. The Director of Design Society, Ole Bouman, and Programme Director, Zhao Rong, will lead panel discussions of practitioners from both China, the UK among others to explore how design enables social innovation, considering new technology, education, and the role of international institutions. Leading up to the opening, there will be further exciting programming to engage with the design community and the public.

China Merchants Shekou Holdings (CMSK) announced the launch of Design Society, a new cultural platform in Shenzhen, China earlier this year.

Design Society offers an innovative and inclusive cultural platform, comprising Design Society Foundation and a commercial arm to ensure a sustainable operating model. Founded by China Merchants Shekou Holdings (CMSK), it adheres to the pioneering spirit of Shekou and Shenzhen in creating a unique cultural experience. It is an open and collaborative platform, fostering synergies, connecting China and the world, and empowering the inter-connectivity between design and society, design and everyday life, and design and industry. It will show groundbreaking designs from the past, present and future, and will expand into other creative disciplines. Design Society will encourage dialogue and collaboration to reveal how design can be a catalytic social force.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is founding partner of the not-for-profit Design Society Foundation, and joins CMSK in establishing a new world class cultural program and platform dedicated to design. This pioneering collaboration—the first of its kind between a UK museum and a Chinese partner—comprises the provision of professional advice and training; the development of a V&A Gallery devoted to 20th and 21st century international design; and the presentation of two touring exhibitions in 2017 and 2018.

Tim Reeve, Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the V&A, said: “This is a pioneering international collaboration for the V&A and represents an exciting new way for us to build on our long history of working in and with China. We are currently developing extensive research and dialogue with Shenzhen’s design, manufacturing and creative communities to inform the approach for the V&A Gallery. At this important and transitional time of new design and creative thinking, we look forward to establishing Design Society Foundation with our partner CMSK in one of the world's most dynamic design cities.”

The V&A Gallery will consider values of design through a diverse selection of objects drawn from the V&A’s major collections. The gallery narrative is organised around seven themes, representing value statements about design: performance, cost, problem solving, materials, identity, communication and wonder.

Ole Bouman, director of Design Society said: “Design Society is literally our mandate. Both a noun and a verb, this new name clearly expresses the potential of how design can positively impact the social, cultural and environmental challenges of our age. At a time of accelerating change, the future belongs to those who are agile, curious and creative, and who can deploy these qualities in an applied human endeavor, in design."

Design Society is located in Sea World Culture and Arts Center, within Sea World’s coastal city complex in Shekou, Shenzhen. The center has a footprint of 26,000 square meters with 71,000 square meters of floor space. It will feature four floors above the ground and two floors underground with spaces for galleries, a theatre, a multi-purpose hall, restaurants and cafes, and retail. Renowned architectural studio Maki and Associates, led by Fumihiko Maki, has been commissioned to design the building, its first in China. Maki's design features three cantilevered volumes atop a deconstructed plinth, opening up horizons to the mountain, the sea and the city, where interconnected space enable cultural conversation and dialogue. Design Society will present its full program at Sea World Culture and Arts Center, currently under construction and due to open in 2017.



Dialogue: Design and Practices of Social Innovation
September 21, 1:30–2:30pm
Panel event at London Design Festival 
Lecture Theatre at the V&A 

Dialogue: Pursuing Design as a catalytic social force
September 29, 10:30am–12:30pm
Panel event at Baitasi Remade-Beijing Design Week 
Gongmenkou vegetable market, Bai Ta Si, Beijing 

Envisioning New Institutions: Connecting HK, SZ, PRD and China
September 29, 3–5pm 
Gongmenkou vegetable market, Bai Ta Si, Beijing 

Design Society
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