Hong Kong design show charms Chicago with 'creative ecology'

By Jian Ping in Chicago For China Daily | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-20 10:04

Hong Kong design show charms Chicago with 'creative ecology'

Erick Yim discusses Elaine Yan Ling Ng's design of smart textiles with robot engineering, where the shape of the textile design changes with visitors' proximity at the Chicago Design Museum on Oct 13. JIan ping / for CHINA DAILY

Eric C. Yim wants people to get to know Hong Kong's "creative ecology".

"Many people know Hong Kong as a commercial city and a financial center, but not many know that it is also a hub of design," said Yim, chairman of the Hong Kong Design Centre. "We want to help people get a glimpse of the creative ecology from Hong Kong."

Yim was on hand for the Confluence 20+ exhibition, which attracted more than 200 people at its opening at the Chicago Design Museum on Oct 13. The innovative designs and many hands-on activities had scores of visitors exploring for hours.

Confluence 20+ celebrates the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in China. It showcases product design in various disciplines, including fashion, furniture, architecture, color trends, digital entertainment, new technology, jewelry and handcrafts.

The exhibition first opened at the Milan Design Week in April, returned to Hong Kong in June, and traveled to Seoul for August and September. It is a crossover "between tradition and innovation" and a combination of "art and design", Yim said.

"Chicago is the last and only stop in North America," he added.

The Chicago exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Chicago Design Museum and the sponsorship of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York.

"I'd like to see people walk away with a sense of appreciation for Hong Kong design and what it means for Hong Kong and Chicago designers to work together," said Tanner Woodford, co-founder and executive director of the Chicago Design Museum.

Hong Lei, China's consul general in Chicago, also attended the opening reception.

"This is a very important event," Hong said. "It showcases the creative achievements of Hong Kong and presents the city as the center of confluence between the East and West."

Each of the four exhibitions features new presentations or new works that shows Hong Kong's creative ecologies, said Amy Chow, project director and curator.

"We have 20 designers here from Hong Kong for a month," Chow continued. "They enhance one another's work and interact with visitors."

Some of the designers are natives of Hong Kong, and others are foreigners who have been working in Hong Kong for a long time, according to Chow.

Julie Progin and Jesse Mc Lin are among them. The wife-and-husband team spent nine years working in Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital of China. They have brought their clay from Hong Kong, but fired the potteries at the Ceramic Department, School of the Art Institute in Chicago (SAIC).

"I like their work," said Joyce Lung, 25, a MFA student at SAIC. "They use recycled materials and leave some pieces unfinished."

"This is fascinating and inspiring," said Valerie Beck, a Chicago businesswoman who was standing in front of a "green table" with displays of cutleries, drinking vessels, and tableware that were all converted from food scraps and biodegradable domestic wastes.

"It touches so many issues, not just design, but also environmental protection. It makes me want to go visit HK," she said.

Catherine Terdich from Morton Grove, a suburb of Chicago, echoed the same sentiment.

"We hear a lot about pollution in China," said Terdich. "It's great to see designers take wastes and repurposing them instead of burning them."

Chow said that Chicago features "the biggest and most engaging" exhibition, with many activities involving the participation of visitors.

For instance, product designer Lee Chi Wing will stage a "Hong Kong Style" tea ceremony; fashion designer Sharon de Lyster will showcase her "Textile Atlas"; and architectural designer Gary Chang will engage visitors to experiment with compact living space.

A variety of workshops and activities also will be offered, including the craft of bamboo bundling, "upcycling" of disposable cutlery, ceramics workshops and a photo shoot with heritage costumes.

The exhibition is organized by the Hong Kong Design Centre and is on display at the Chicago Design Museum on the third floor of Block Thirty Seven in downtown Chicago from Oct 14 to Nov 4. It is free to the public and open from Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 7 pm.


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