China’s first dedicated cultural design center, Design Society, has opened to the public in Shenzhen. Designed by legendary Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, the center’s brand new building on the harborfront of Shekou will serve as a platform for the museum’s innovative program highlighting all realms of design while creating a “thought-provoking experience” for visitors.
"Today we present a new podium for China to show its creative drive to the world and to nurture its quest for international inspiration,” said Ole Bouman, Director of Design Society, at the inauguration event. “We are excited and eager to present Design Society, as a place dedicated to expanding and enriching the design environment of Shenzhen and China, and to offer a platform to our global counterparts. Through our vast network of likeminded cultural institutions and partners, and our programme of creative events, exhibitions and activities, we welcome and embrace a long-standing discussion and exploration to further enrich our goal to design society."
The museum, known as the Sea World Culture and Arts Center (SWCAC), is the first completed building in China by Maki and Associates. Featuring state-of-the-art architectural features inspired by Shekou’s natural landscape, the 71,000-square-meter (764,000-square-foot) building is capable of housing multiple simultaneous exhibitions over its six floors, including in its Main Gallery; the V&A Gallery (formed through the pioneering collaboration between Design Society founders China Merchants Shekou and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London); the Park View Gallery; Shenzhen UCCN Exchange Center, Shekou Museum of Reform and Opening, and Shenzhen Guanfu Museum; multipurpose event spaces as the Mountain View Theater and Horizon Hall; and F&B outlets including EXTRA TIME, Chunmanyuan and The Purple.
Three architect-designed exhibitions will open the museum, including an exhibition on the design process for the SWCAC itself; an exhibition designed by MVRDV on the impact of digitalization on human values; and a showcase of 250 design objects from throughout history drawn from the V&A’s permanent collection, designed by Sam Jacob Studio.
"The opening of Design Society is a significant moment for Shenzhen, China and the wider design world,” said Tim Reeve, Deputy Director of the V&A. I am proud that as a founding partner of Design Society Foundation, the V&A has collaborated with China Merchants Group and colleagues at Design Society to establish this important cultural destination, and that the dedicated V&A Gallery and touring exhibitions will showcase the best of international design. Our world leading curatorial and education experts have also provided the very best training to share skills and deepen research as part of an exchange that benefits us all."