Craft Transcendence: China Design Centre at Maison&Objet
Exhibition / 17 Aug 2018 / Bi Wen, Shirley

On September 7-11, 2018, China Design Centre collaborated with Hundredicrafts to present an exhibition "Craft Transcendence: Chinese Contemporary Objects" at Maison&Objet Paris.

This year, M&O made the most significant change in its 23 years of history. One of the changes is that the 'CRAFT - métiersd'Art' area is open to international exhibitors for the first time.

The China Design Centre seized this valuable opportunity to gather 25 Chinese designers, artists and brands, who brought dozens of excellent handicraft works to the exhibition. It is the first time in M&O to see such an extensive collection of modern Chinese art and design.

The exhibits showed different interpretations of traditional techniques and materials, including ceramics, bamboo, lacquer, copper, textile and leather. The participating artists and designers ranged from young rising talents to established artists and brands, with educational backgrounds from all over the world. We can say that this curated showcase captured the path of innovation within contemporary Chinese crafts, from many different points of views.

The diverse collection has attracted a large number of international visitors. They are interested to see the mixture of traditional and modern elements in Chinese design now.

The collectors expressed their appreciation towards Liya Wan’s porcelain painting scroll and vases. The traditional Chinese art form of the porcelain scroll was eye-opening, while the ‘Happy Life’ vases express the artist’s avant-garde idea.

Apart from the exquisite collectables, accessible design products such as the bamboo-over-porcelain teacups, Vajra Flagon from Nature Bamboo, and small teapot, wooden saucer from Chunming Pan, have drawn a lot of attention to the potential buyers. The unique craft demonstrated in these products as well as the usability and pleasurable design details were all reasons for their popularity.

Many visitors, especially the European art students, were fascinated by Xiaodong Bian’s ‘Cocoon’. They were very curious about the artist’s craftsmanship for making the eggshell-like thin layer and unusual shape out of porcelain.

One of the most popular works, ‘Celadon X Memphis’ was created by Cher Yin, who just graduated from Central Saint Martin, University of the Arts London. Not just admiring Yin’s creativity, the audience were also eager to understand the thinking process behind these fantastic works.

The series of blue-and-white hand-painting plates by Mengya Zhang, a young artist from Jingdezhen, might not be the most astounding work at the exhibition. However, among the experts and professionals, Zhang’s work reflected the transformation and breakthrough of traditional Chinese handicraft forms.

The tea set, ’Bridge’ by Hao Xu, stunned the audience with its unique details, texture and structure. The work displayed the designer’s love for Chengdu, his hometown, and can be seen as an excellent example of contemporary Chinese aesthetics.

Cong Ma, the founder of Hundredicrafts, brought a series of his designs to the showcase. The fluid lines of gold and silver on the screens that were created by double-side hand-embroidery in ‘Water Rhymes’ series were unbelievable.

Through participating in M&O, we see more possibilities for the future development of contemporary Chinese handicrafts. Meanwhile, through the exchanges with international professional designers and buyers, we have gained the first-hand feedback from the market.

The most popular exhibits here show that traditional Chinese crafts must evolve with the socio-economic and cultural development. Mainly from the following three aspects: new materials, applying the technology and innovation in traditional crafts; the shift from traditional art ideas to modern aesthetics; and renewing the traditional way of using products to fit the modern lifestyle.

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