Unconventional Design

Unconventional Design

In anticipation of the V&A’s, London, new design hub opening next year in Shenzhen, an exhibition exploring the unconventional and alternative underbelly of Chinese design is being held in the Museum’s T. T. Tsui Gallery during this year’s London Design Festival.

Unidentified Acts of Design probes Shenzhen and Pearl River Delta’s studios in order to expose a series of alternative acts of design that exist alongside those of the more conventional persuasion. It is a project undertaken by both the V&A and China Merchants Shekou Holdings (CMSK) in an effort to create a solid, non-profit foundation upon which the Design Society, opening in Shenzhen in 2017, will be built.

The exhibition has already received significant attention, having been originally shown at the 2015 Urbanism/Architecture Bi-City Biennale (UABB). Just as it did in its former exhibition space, Unidentified Acts contains a range of case studies including – but not limited to – Seeed, a platform for inventors and engineers to develop and prototype ideas; Makeblock, the robot making company; the multi-functional digital platform WeChat (Weixin); as well as many more. All will be presented through a variety of short films, introducing the unsung pioneers of the design process – inventors, web developers, hobbyists – allowing them to receive the recognition they deserve.

This exhibition provides an opportunity for both the Victoria and Albert Museum and their collaborators, CMSK, to determine the character they wish to give to the forthcoming Shenzhen gallery. Luisa E. Mengoni, Head of the V&A gallery in Shekou and Brendan Cormier, Lead Curator of 20th and 21st century design for Shekou have curated the display in order to tailor its narrative, exemplifying that unconventional acts of design have been borne out of a region commonly referred to as “the factory of the world.”

As is hoped for the 2017 gallery, this exhibition tests the relationship between value and design. Through a highly diverse selection of objects from the V&A’s wold renowned collection, Unidentified Acts of Design stands as a symbol of the ever-expanding curatorial interest developing alongside the arrival of the V&A’s new gallery.

Unidentified Acts of Design, 15 September – 30 November, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. For more, visit www.vam.ac.uk.

1. Fragile Future Chandelier, Studio Drift, 2011. Image copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London.