8 of the best in show from Design Shanghai 2018

Design Shanghai celebrated its fifth anniversary this year, with a show that was bigger than ever (40 percent bigger, in fact). The stars of the show were the Chinese design brands, from the more established names to the emerging design studios and grassroots brands. Here, we bring you a round-up of our favourite booths, brands and installations at this year’s fair – which ran from 14 to 17 March 2018 – while offering you an insight into the names to keep an eye on.

Yang House

The clean lines and elegant forms of Yang House’s designs, and its quirky take on design for travel and for the home, were a breath of fresh air at the show. Founded by Jamy Yang, Yang House is not about over-designing; rather, it’s about stripping design back to the essentials and creating highly functional pieces that are easy on the eye. Yang House’s Foam chair was a great example of Yang’s offbeat style in action: it combined foam panels with a backrest from Hans Wegner’s CH24 Wishbone chair.

Emerging Chinese Designer Platform

Once again, Design Shanghai partnered with AD China to present 10 of the nation’s most exciting young design talents. The award went to DEFRONT’s Hei. Responding to the fact that different teas are best drunk at different temperatures, this thoughtful clay tea set incorporates a thermometre. We also loved Tan Zhipeng’s creative 33 Step chair, which consists of an inverted bronze spine and pelvis, and the easy simplicity of Li Tian’s LED floor lamp.

 24/7 by SECOO

Online luxury retailer SECOO created a pop-up bar at Design Shanghai, and their innovative approach to cocktails – not to mention their booth, which was filled top to bottom with bright yellow boxes – was hugely popular with fairgoers. This is SECOO’s first foray into the offline world: with 24/7, their intention is to establish street-corner bars where customers can purchase low-alcohol, easy-to-drink cocktails created by Cross Yu, Kazuhisa Arai and Jackie Lo, all served in pretty glass bottles.

de Gournay’s stand by Oitoemponto

It’s all about collaboration – as de Gournay proved at Design Shanghai. They first partnered with Portuguese studio Oitoemponto on a hand-painted wallpaper, Namban, which features cranes flying across a bronze sky. The collaboration continued with Oitoemponto designing and decorating de Gournay’s booth.

Jacques Bec and Artur Miranda mixed de Gournay’s exquisite wallpapers (including Namban, of course) with vintage pieces of furniture, as well as some of Oitoemponto’s own designs. The combination showed de Gournay’s work in context, and in a truly inspiring way.

Drama Studio

Also from Portugal was Drama Studio, which launched at Design Shanghai. Utopia 1 – a sideboard fronted by a mesh-like façade finished in silver foil – has already won awards, and the rest of the collection is sure to make a name for itself. Standout items were Utopia II, a marble-topped coffee table complete with Drama’s mix of geometric shapes around the edges, and the Utopia IV console, finished with gold leaf. Each item will be sold as a limited edition of just eight pieces.

Endless Form

This homegrown brand had both a booth and an installation at the show, and its mathematically driven, digitally ‘grown’ products certainly stood out from the crowd. Endless Form is the brainchild of Zhang Zhoujie, a Central Saint Martins grad, who gives his computer some basic mathematical parametres and then lets it design on its own. The result is pieces like the Triangulation chair… and this and various other brass and stainless steel chairs were on display at Design Shanghai.

Enamel Shi

Another homegrown Chinese brand that wowed was Enamel Shi. This is contemporary craftsmanship at its best: using cloisonné techniques, Enamel Shi mixes with copper filaments to create stunning surfaces for tables, wall art and more.

Luminous Reflections by Tord Boontje for Swarovski Crystal Palace

Boontje has spent the last five years experimenting with Swarovski in order to create the smooth-surface crystals on display in Design Shanghai’s Collectibles hall this year. Resembling drops of water, Boontje has applied these crystals to various lighting designs for Swarovski, and the way they bounce light around was a visual delight.

Banner image: Jacob Delafon
Top image: Wang Wei