How Can Talented Asian Designers Go Big with Small Budget?

As part of our trip to Shanghai during the 2017 Home Design Week, we were captured for quite some time by the reinvigorating exhibitions organized by CIFF Shanghai and Maison Shanghai to host and group together the emerging generation of talented Asian designers.

A collection of Modern Chinese Design decor | Dezoo

EAST Design Show (Young Collection – Good Design Good Business) was hosted at CIFF Shanghai, Hall 2. The theme of EAST third edition was “tea art”: luckily for us and all the other visitors, the young designers who attended this show did not pay too much attention to a theme which was clearly lacking attractiveness and the ultimate result was a genuinely interesting show displaying all the appeal and strength of Asian design and artisanship. We were crawling from booth to booth immersed in elegant design pieces, lots of wood and organic materials, nuances of light brown and clean lines. We loved the originality of these young designers. Among the many, we will remember the young German designer Klemens Grund and its foldable oak chair: a successful icon of the merge between the clean lines typical of this part of the world and the Western world functionality.

Chinese Design Modern lunch box in wood and bronze from a designer called Kanjian | Dezoo

Design of Designers (DOD) was partially hosted at Maison Shanghai, Hall 3 and partially spread all around the city of Shanghai within cafes, flower shops, book bars, supermarkets and art galleries (yep… something clearly inspired by Fuorisalone in Milan but not yet as successful and enjoyable…).

This fifth edition was aiming at contributing to the Chinese furniture industry creating new opportunities for original design brands. A lot of great talents also here, not only in the furniture industry but also in the home decoration segment, stationery, internet of things etc.

So, what did we learn attending these two shows and shaking hands literally with hundreds of young talented Asian designers? We had the clear feeling that, out there, a new generation of well trained, talented, hungry and inspired designers is brewing ideas and new products. This new generation loves recyclable materials, bamboo wood, light colors and minimal packaging.

All good, and how do they wish to develop their business? The majority of them wish to expand their brand using Taobao, a very popular online shopping platform owned by Alibaba and similar to eBay. Their business model is to grow little by little fostering their own brand and placing small order quantities to their suppliers, an ambitious idea but, for the vast majority of them, it will simply not work in the long term. The reason is as simple as this: if you own factories you control the production but you need a design to develop your line of products; if you own the design then you need factories to develop your brand but factories will always give you hard time for production windows and good prices based on low order quantities. Both factories and designers then need to invest in marketing to be seen by final consumers and Taobao is definitely too expensive if you wish to have good visibility.

Wall of a building near Shanghai Expo, Maison Shanghai

Such a tough world, right?! Is, there any other viable solution? Yes, and what we see as a disruptive solution is to start to unite and aggregate under a single marketplace focused on a specific industry. Curated marketplaces like Dezoo can be the final safe berth in these days of stormy waters: here is where buyers can source great new design at affordable prices, factories can source good design and talented designers who can not only meet new factories which better fit their growing needs but can also gain visibility and new market shares.


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