Design Shanghai 2016: Pursuit of the natural and traditional | PDD


March 23 2016
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Design Shanghai 2016: Pursuit of the natural and traditional

Design Shanghai is China’s biggest design show. The four-day-long annual event centres on the high-end contemporary market, showcasing designer products ranging from home furnishings to office supplies.

In contrast to 2015’s trends of colour and luxury, this year the focus shifted to all things natural, with a strong emphasis on traditional eastern culture. Metal continued to feature but this year also saw designers using a variety of woods. There was also a significant increase in new and local Chinese brands exhibiting ‘gift’ collections.

For those of you who missed the show here are our top finds from Design Shanghai:


Image credit: PDD

Domus Tiandi – Exploring the new Eastern style
Tiandi offered a selection of beautiful furniture pieces that successfully harmonise traditional Chinese narratives with modern international aesthetics. The collections are inspired by Chinese art and traditional materials, including mirrors and tough inkstone. The fresh take on the DJ control desk was particularly impressive – a hi-tech hybrid featuring a digital control panel within an elegant table design. The overall effect was one of a creative and welcoming living room in which to entertain guests.

Image credit: PDD, 

Ziinlife – Let there be light
Shanghai-based, Ziinlife, exhibited a new collection of cabinet furniture. Called ENLIGHT, the unique cabinets have been designed to utilize the light from their surroundings to illuminate even the deepest darkest corners of the unit. Over time and with the change of light, the patterns inside the cabinet adapt and create new backgrounds.

Image credit: PDD

Finethingwow – The seed of life
Believing the seed to be the symbol of new life, the designer’s glazed vases in blue and charcoal communicate vigor and infinite charm.

Image credit: PDD

Nature Bamboo – Fabulous handcrafted bamboo cups
If you weren’t paying close attention, these finely crafted pieces by Sichuan based bamboo artist Qionglai could easily have passed you by. Inspired by the ‘sea of bamboo’ in China, Qionglai selects the finest hair-like filaments of bamboo and other natural materials to weave these natural looking cups and vases.

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Yang Mingjie – Handcrafted Yang House
Yang Mingjie, co-founder of Yang Design presented a thoughtful collection called ‘Yang House’. Mingjie designed and developed the ‘Y type home system’, consisting of 10,000 pieces of white cell-type shapes. The cells can be combined to create different items in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms, from coffee tables and sofas to lamps and wall coverings… the possibilities are endless.

Image credit: PDD

Bang & Olufsen (B&O) – Smart audio system
It’s the first time that Danish electronics company Bang and Olufsen (B&O) have exhibited at Design Shanghai. The luxury audio manufacturer celebrated its 90th birthday with an exhibit featuring the Beolab 90. B&O’s most powerful, state-of-the-art loudspeaker stands over 4 feet tall, retails for close to £54,000 (580,000RMB) and seems to have been inspired by a geometric hallucination.

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Another highlight of B&O’s exhibit was the BeoSound Moment smart wireless system, which features the world’s first wooden touch-screen interface. The device connects to a smart phone or iPad enabling, among other things, control of your music from any room. The system also adapts to your listening habits and suggests music or radio programmes according to your mood.


Image credit:, PDD

EY-Product – Landscape. Limited edition
These exquisite objects are made from ebony, a precious material that is often used for making high-end furniture. However, the barks are disposed of during the manufacturing process because their irregular shapes make them difficult to work with. Driven by a belief that ‘everything exists for a reason’, the designers take these discarded pieces of wood and use resin to fill out the holes and irregularities, transforming them into objects that are both unpredictably beautiful and functional.

Image credit: PDD

Poetic LabBeyond Object desktop collection
A highlight from the show, home accessories and stationery brand, Poetic Lab, exhibited designs from their Beyond Object label. The simple and stylish stationery and desk tools appear effortlessly minimal and light despite the strong use of metal.

Image credit: PDD

Cork is a relatively new material being used in Chinese furniture design. At the show there were lots of great examples of how cork could be applied to furniture, stationery and even fabric.

As raw materials become rarer and more precious, a new type of ‘luxury’ is emerging – one which is taking inspiration from a culturally rich past. The strong showing of natural materials and handcrafted items at this year’s Design Shanghai event illustrate how designers are being challenged to innovate using a limited amount of natural materials and today’s new technologies.

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Posted by Daisy
Consultant – Research & Market Intelligence

Languages spoken: Mandarin, English and a bit of Japanese.
The last thing that inspired me: A sophisticated and private white temple in Thailand (Wat Rong Khun) that included a luxury gold toilet.
My dream project: Hold an individual art exhibition in the glass house at bamboo forest.
My obsession: Chips & spicy hotpot.