First Ever Shenzhen Design Week Starts This Friday

By Bailey Hu, April 20, 2017

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How can four parking spaces in the city be temporarily repurposed as a public area to relax, read or even exercise? What kind of backpack could adjust to fit the needs of our daily lives?

Could better, low-cost playgrounds be created for children living in rural China? And how can design help spread the word about the millions of refugees stuck in 'temporary' camps around the world?

Exhibits at the first ever Shenzhen Design Week (April 21-28) will answer all these questions and more. The SZDW features 2,000 works spread out over multiple venues, as well as an impressive set of designers from around the world, lined up for talks and workshops over five days.

Even if you're not an expert on design, there's still some cool interactive experiences to be found — to start with, everyone who visits the main exhibition hall will get a 'digital bracelet' that keeps track of the path they take through the venue. The 'walking trail' data of all visitors will then be turned into part of the exhibition itself.

If that kind of thinking appeals to you, read on for the basics of the inaugural Shenzhen Design Week.

Exhibition Highlights

A Mary Poppins-style backpack designed by Casper Notenboom can be expanded to fit more stuff

The main exhibition venue is the I-Factory in Shekou, which will be open from 10am-6pm from April 21-28. Works include designs like the backpack shown above, or an innovative web documentary on a refugee camp that weaves together art, photography and film. A Design Market housed alongside the exhibits allows you to buy products directly from independent local designers.

See our listing for the I-Factory.

design-refugee-republic.jpgExplore an interactive version of the above map on the official Refugee Republic website

During SZDW the Nanshan Museum will play host to fascinating exhibits like 'A Decade of Chinese Illustrations' (April 21-30). The prize-winning pieces represent artists from all over Greater China.

See our listing for the Nanshan Museum.

design-decade-chinese-illustrations.jpgdesign-zhao-weiming.jpgPart of a series by artist Zhao Weiming

From now until April 30, there'll also be an exhibition titled 'Light ±' in Room 301 of Building A inside the Shenzhen Public Art Center. Light-themed installations plus other works of art will be on display to the public.

See our listing for the Shenzhen Public Art Center.

design-light-exhibition.pngA collaboration between Zhang Zhiyang and Tan Hanwei

design-stephen-knapps.pngA work by Stephen Knapp

For a complete list of venues and exhibitions, see this official SZDW webpage (to learn more about a specific event, click on its title).


For your convenience, here's the full schedule posted on the official website. Some events, like 'Mindpark 2017,' aren't open to the public or may require booking well in advance. Translations will be provided for all talks not given in English.


For Designers

If you're a designer by trade, besides the obvious benefits of workshops and forums hosted by experts, this year marks the first ever Shenzhen Global Design Awards competition.

It's a chance for designers to win some serious prize money. This year's focus is on industrial and product design; learn more details on the official Shenzhen Global Design Awards website here.

[Images via SZDW official website and WeChat]

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