SHEKOU, one of Shenzhen's most popular leisure areas and travel destinations, now has a grand cultural and art hub. After seven years of preparation, the highly anticipated Design Society|Sea World Culture and Arts Center opened Saturday, with three inaugural exhibitions and a string of public activities over the weekend.
Located beside Sea World's iconic Nu Wa statue, the white angular center, with a stunning sea view, has a footprint covering of 26,000 square meters with 71,000 square meters of floor space. Established by China Merchants Shekou and operated by Design Society, the center is now hosting three design-themed exhibitions until 2018 and 2019 and has opened a coffee shop and a gift shop on its first floor. More organizations, such as Shenzhen UCCN Exchange Center, Shekou Museum of Reform and Opening and Shenzhen Guanfu Museum, as well as dancing and painting training studios, restaurants, private galleries and lifestyle stores, will open soon inside the building.
Design Society is a new cultural platform with a mission to activate design as a social catalyst. "Shenzhen, titled 'City of Design' by UNESCO, is at the core of the Pearl River Delta and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, where there are thousands of manufacturing enterprises. Design is the driving force of manufacturing, so Design Society aims to further activate the local design industry and promote the sustainable growth of local industry players. Go beyond production and focus on creation," said Zhang Lin, deputy general manager of China Merchants Shekou Holdings.
The opening of Design Society is also the result of the pioneering collaboration between China Merchants Shekou and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, the first of its kind between a Chinese corporate partner and an international museum. The collaboration comprises the provision of professional advice, training and concepts.
The "Values of Design" exhibition in the V&A Gallery features over 250 objects from the V&A London's extensive collection, which frame a global debate about how values shape design. The "Minding the Digital" exhibition in the Main Gallery brings visitors a wonderland of immersive design shaped by digital technologies. It explores how design mediates between technology and core human values by displaying a cross-disciplinary array of designs by over 50 established practitioners from around the world.
In addition to exhibitions, Design Society is also organizing public activities to encourage people to experience the power of design. "Design Society is a platform through which industries can learn from each other, present themselves and work on new projects. We created 'Design Society' as a place to go, like a community you can join, but it is also a verb: to design society, meaning to contribute new ideas and connect people. We will reach out to the manufacturing and design community, to find makers and designers and explore new things," said Ole Bouman, director of Design Society.
Designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, the center's architectural features were inspired by Shekou's natural landscape, surrounded by the sea, mountains and urban spaces.