Chinese Creative Cities Economy map

A marathon of interventions, exhibitions, and dialogues was promoted by the Chinese Creative Cities to invigorate the dialogue among the Chinese, Italian, and international design communities.

In 2023, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Chinese presence returned in grand style to the Milan International Furniture Fair with a series of events sponsored by the Cultural Office of the Embassy and the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Milan. The event and exhibition, curated by DONTSTOP at Piazza del Cannone, hosted the capitals of Chinese Design, including Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Hainan, and Wuxi, which showcased their prestigious Design Weeks and featured distinguished guests such as Master Zhu Xiaojie. Innovative projects, companies, excellent local products, and services established a fruitful dialogue with the vibrant Milanese design community, opening up new prospects for collaboration and friendship. The evening was masterfully concluded with an engaging DJ set by Marcobaleno and a buffet, providing a more informal moment to wrap up the event.

The island of Hainan is currently planning to transform Lingshui into a model of low-carbon development, recognizing that this transformation will take time. To facilitate this process, a continuous exhibition program is being proposed to showcase the entire transformation journey over time. The Low Carbon District, located on a 15-hectare land adjacent to the Lingshui amusement park, will focus on biodiversity, sustainable energy production and management, smart city networks, electric and lightweight mobility, community building, phytodepuration, and sustainable tree planting. The district aims to become an experimental hub for the implementation of new sustainable technologies, attracting leading companies in the industry from around the world.

Hainan, thanks to its recent Free Port status, is becoming the bridge between South East Asia China, and the rest of the world, and has invited Italy as a Partner Country for its first Design Week. The ‘Window of Italy’ exhibition, curated by Michele Brunello, which DONTSTOP designed the set-up, explores the innovations taking place in the various fields of design, which can be traced back to ‘Made in Italy’ and the Italian territory. The general theme of Design Week is “Low Carbon and New Consumptions”, and a particular focus of the exhibition addressed the theme of the Mediterranean dimension, which creates a bridge with Hainan, an island with a climate and historical/geographical conditions similar to some Italian regions.
Italy, one of the laboratories of possible (and necessary) transitions for the future, is presented through the involvement of partners, designers, and enterprises, design, and business projects, divided into five thematic sections: Design, Fashion, Food, Cities, and Education.
These thematic sections will represent some case studies of realities that represent Italian quality in the various fields, and as is usually the case, the cultural content reinforces the entire system of business operations that accompany the event. The layout is conceived as a dynamic wave-shaped path, which the visitor passes through, delving into the various institutional presences, including the Marche Region and Milan Polytechnic, and industrial and commercial realities.

The XPORT VILLAGE project is a connecting space between the local inhabitants and the global network of innovators and creatives from all over China and the world. The rural dimension of the village suggests a “slow” lifestyle suitable for the contemporary creative profession, but which is able to dialogue and stay in touch with the “fast” pace of the city and its creators, operators, communicators, companies and international public. The spaces are articulated in open courtyards facing the natural elements and are developed along the waterway and on the northern edge of the village. The three open courtyards are linked by two elements that create a distinctive urban sign: the portico and the archives system. A structure that makes the tradition and cultural background of local and global knowledge available to the innovators living in XPORT VILLAGE, and at the same time is able to communicate and transmit it worldwide.

From Beijing, at the China-Europe (Italy) Creative Industry Digital Exhibition, a panel discussion was held on the theme “Heritage & Innovation”, with Michele Brunello speaking live via streaming at the table with Luca Fois, Zhang Yi, Fu Zhiyong and many other experts from the creative sector.

A new model of event and exhibition fair that gives great space to digital to create collaborations and synergies between the two countries.

The Chinese Design Weeks have developed as big public events of urban innovation, far from the concept of design linked to “products” or “services”, but a ground for experimentation of every form of design. The first room of the exhibition shows the results of these investigations in three symbolic cities where innovation is produced and where the future of design is redesigning millions of people’s lives. In the second room, the redevelopment process of the Beijing Dashilar district, located southwest of Tian’anmen Square, is explored in depth. Started in 2011, it is characterized by a bottom-up planning process.

The project is based on reflections on the relationship with the natural world and the slowdown in life that comes with it. The architecture is located on the roof of the “City on the Sky” building complex, occupying the top floor with other pavilions, creating a flexible space between the artificial and natural dimensions, creating an oasis where people can escape from their hectic lives. The café and restaurant are located along the walkway crossing the entire complex, while the hotel with its rooms and services is built-in height. At the top of the building, the lobby, guest reception, and outdoor areas are arranged in a flexible building with a large garden surrounded by lush nature. In addition, real forest houses suspended wooden modules, equipped as accommodation rooms surrounded by greenery, with spectacular views. A system of wooden bridges and footbridges connects all the functions, creating unexpected paths, immersed in greenery above a breathtaking skyline.

Chinese Design Weeks have developed as major public events of urban experimentation, far from the concept of design linked to “products” or “services”, but field of experimentation for all forms of project. The first room of the exhibition will tell the results of these experiments in three symbolic cities, where innovation is produced and where the future of design is redesigning lives of millions of people. The second room explores the redevelopment process of the Beijing district of Dashilar, located south-west of Tian’anmen Square, which began in 2011 and is characterized by bottom-up planning type.

The exhibition explores the relationship between cities and their landscape systems linked to water: today we need a new architecture capable of recovering urban qualities starting from the relationship between cities and their water. The metaphor of “posture”, of how the body reacts to its surroundings, is placed in different environmental contexts. The exhibition combines the postures of the “men of water” (such as the gondolier of the Venetian boat or Suzhou) with contemporary reflections and projects on the relationship between space, people and water. The exhibition, through symbolic objects and metaphors, helps viewers to understand how urban environments, in dialogue with water, are the most important resource for a sustainable and good quality future development. In China we play along the blue infrastructure of the Grand Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which dates back over 2000 years of history: 1700 kilometers of canals connecting the most important cities of China. Today, as in the past, the link between Venice and China passes through water.

In the prestigious location of Errotaja, in the centre of Helsinki, one of the main installations consisted of a survey of the most important transformations, people, communities and projects of Design in Beijing. The exhibition “Beijing: a harmonious and livable city of culture”, co-curated by Michele Brunello, Wenyi Wu, Tao Haiying, was set up by Dontstop Architettura and divided into five rooms: “City” tells the story of Beijing’s transformations up to 2030, “People” tells the story of the young protagonists of design and culture, “Community” describes the complex operations of urban regeneration and community building in the Hutongs, “Objects” shows the objects and arts&craft connected to the great monuments of the capital and finally “Rituals” tells the rituals and practices related to the Chinese calendar and the Moon Party, celebrated during the exhibition period.

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