13 Jun 2019 • Lauren Grace Morris
Can exhibition design help promote cross-cultural creative dialogue?
This year’s edition of the Shenzhen Design Week highlighted the ‘connection and influence between design and industry, and design and society.’
Focused on revealing cross-disciplinary and cross-border communication, this iteration wasn’t limited to speaking only of Chinese design’s relationship with industry and society. Vis à vis, an exhibition curated by Gao Fengfeng and Galerie Paris Horizon, was an invitation for visitors to see first-hand the contemporary cultural exchange happening between France and China.
Set in the MOCAPE museum of contemporary art, Vis à vis’ scenography was done by Paris-based Döppel Studio and creative agency Désormeaux/Carrette. They worked to translate the intersection of national design heritages into scenographic elements – to create, in their words, ‘ghosts from a close future’ of cultural collaborations. Phantom-like steles and the use of seemingly ephemeral, transparent materials, as well as stone, allowed for a dynamic ‘dialogue’ between the featured, specially-commissioned objects in the minimal space. Lighting fixtures were imagined to be a sort of monument, raised as ‘pillars of future creations.’
For both teams, the project was a ‘meeting between industrial design’ – Désormeaux/Carette’s speciality – and of Döppel Studio’s ‘plastic and conceptual expertise of space.’
Preceding Shenzhen Design Week by a month, the small French city of Saint-Étienne ushered in a similar setting for fostering creative dialogue between the two countries with the 11th edition of their design biennale. The event featured multiple exhibitions born from Chinese and French creatives working together, centred on shining a light on design innovation in each culture’s past, present and future.
‘Vis à vis presents an emerging generation of designers through an exhibition path that gradually [introduces] industrial, editorial, conceptual and technological approaches of the different designers…’ stated Döppel Studio and Désormeaux/Carrette. ‘A generation of designers to closely follow.’