Collaboration: Honouring the Past, Innovating for the Future

Gillian Scott, Creative Director of Craft Design House is the first curator of foreign nationality to be invited to curate a major exhibition for Shenzhen’s Creative December 2019.

Presenting a multi-disciplinary of narrative, process, provenance and creativity, Craft Design House will share the diversity of Scottish design and craft practice with Chinese megalopolis Shenzhen, a UNESCO City of Design.

Shenzhen, UNESCO City of Design and so much more!

Shenzhen, currently the wealthiest city in China with real estate prices outstripping Beijing and Shanghai, is the beating heart of Chinese innovation and creativity. Behind a drive to replace the ‘Made in China’ stamp with ‘Designed in China’ or ‘Created in China’ this megalopolis of over 12 million people has the highest concentration of creatives anywhere in China and an average age of 32. Formerly a sleepy fishing village on the coast facing Hong Kong, this city has experienced exponential growth and advancement in recent decades.

Today Shenzhen is home to many tech giants including Huawei and the world’s first totally electric bus service. But it is not only in the sphere of technology that Shenzhen thrives creatively. The city’s annual cultural program boasts the only national photography competition, the only major exhibition entirely devoted to ink paintings in the world, the world’s third-largest sailing regatta, Shenzhen’s annual China International New Media Short Film Festival is the only internationally-recognised short film festival in the country.

An exclusive collaboration with the V&A sees regular rotating exhibitions of loaned pieces at the city’s state-of-the-art exhibition centre Design Society. These are just a smattering of the vibrant and diverse cultural and creative events taking place each year within the bustling city of Shenzhen, culminating in Creative December.

Showcasing Scotland

Craft Design House will take a strong showcase of Scottish designer maker work and creations to share with the audience in Shenzhen, leading with recent collections it has developed both in-house and for clients. Collections by Craft Design House feature work that is original, narrative-led, sustainably and ethically made, contemporary, innovative, functional and beautiful. Every design is based around a unique theme and teases out an element of the story being celebrated by the collection at large whilst enhancing the venues or businesses at the heart of these story-led pieces.

Craft Design House emphasises the craftsmanship, sustainability and quality of a piece as the cornerstones of its definition of luxury. Focus is on provenance, on curating a network of leading and emerging multi-disciplinary designer makers, and on the processes and materials they use.

As Shenzhen makes the shift from ‘factory floor’ of the world to a place that pioneers new design and celebrates home-grown talent and products, there is huge potential for learning both in Shenzhen and for us in Scotland. Exhibitions such as the one we will curate for Creative December open up vital lines of communication and the potential for future collaboration, supporting creative industries and practitioners within both countries.

In the long-term we hope to pioneer exchanges of knowledge and practice, hosting exhibitions in Scotland of Chinese craft and design as well as in Shenzhen of leading European craft and design.

We will also look to developing collaborations between designers and makers of the two nations, fostering international collaboration and multi-cultural as well as multi-disciplinary creations.

Forging Friendships and Opportunities for International Exchange

“We are delighted to invite Craft Design House to curate and exhibit their Collections as a part of the 15th Creative December event. From this exhibition, we look forward to further developing our relationship and fostering international design collaborations”.

胡晓意 Evelyn Hu, International Affairs Manager, Edinburgh-Shenzhen Creative Exchange

Through this project we are contributing to a global conversation about the ethics of production while also fostering strong international relationships based on community and creativity, looking to a stronger and more collaborative future, embracing diversity, multiculturalism and exchange. These relationships have the potential to endure and create a stimulating, financially beneficial and inter-connected environment for Scottish and Chinese creative practice for years to come.

The collections we will be presenting in Shenzhen cover a variety of themes from wellbeing to the stories of explorers to the lifework of Renaissance polymaths.