Lorraine Justice
Foreword by Xin Xinyang
The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2012, English
Nonfiction, Product/Industrial Design
6 x 9 inches, hardcover, 152 pages, 46 figures and 1 table
ISBN: 9780262017428
Suggested Retail Price: $21.95

From the Publisher. China is on the verge of a design revolution. A “third generation” of the People’s Republic of China that came of age during China’s “opening up” period of the 1980s now strives for fame, fortune, and self expression. This generation, workers in their thirties and forties, has more freedom to create—and to consume—than their parents or grandparents. In China’s Design Revolution, Lorraine Justice maps the evolution of Chinese design and innovation.

Justice explains that just as this “third generation” (post-Revolution, post–Cultural Revolution) reaches for self-expression, China’s government is making massive investments in design and innovation, supporting design and creative activities (including design education programs, innovation parks, and privatized companies) at the local and national levels. The goal is to stimulate economic growth—and to establish China as a global creative power. Influenced by Mao and Confucius, communism and capitalism, patriotism and cosmopolitanism, China’s third generation will drive the culture of design and innovation in China—and maybe the rest of the world.

Justice describes and documents examples of Chinese design and innovation that range from ancient ceramics to communist propaganda posters. She then explores current award-winning projects in media, fashion, graphic, interior, and product design; and examines the lifestyle and purchasing trends of the “fourth generation,” now in their teens and twenties. China’s Design Revolution offers an essential guide to the inextricably entwined stories of design, culture, and politics in China.

On 2 book lists
Zara Arshad

Informed by extensive firsthand experience, former Director of the School of Design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Lorraine Justice, dissects the state of Chinese design, from the influence of history and politics to cultural paradoxes. One of the very few (English) releases that handles the topic in a sensitive yet timely manner, this is a must-read for those wishing to grasp a basic understanding of the Chinese design industry.

Phil Patton

The rise of powerful manufacturing economies is commonly accompanied by stereotypes: those who make well are mere imitators—clever copiers, not real designers. It was true of Japan and Korea during their rise to industrial power. It was just as true of the United States, as the image played out in Great Britain in the 19th century with the American system of interchangeable parts supplanting craft-based British makers. And it has been true of images of China over the last few years.

“Designed in California, Made in China” read the words on the back of the iPhone. But must design and manufacture be separate? That is one of the questions in the background of China’s Design Revolution by Lorraine Justice. Justice, formerly Director of the School of Design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and now Dean of the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, believes China is on the verge of a design revolution.

The emergence of design in China is tied to the country’s rapid growth, and cultural shifts that Justice associates with the succession of generations in the country. China moved from a focus in the days of Mao on the “four basic goods” that Chinese households felt they could aspire to—the wristwatch, radio, sewing machine, and bicycle—to a new generation aspiring to living space and auto ownership and commensurate achievements.

Justice outlines a generation of workers in their thirties and forties, with “more freedom to create—and to consume—than their parents or grandparents.” They came of age during the economic opening of the 1980s and 1990s and are now dedicated to self-expression in ways that promise to contradict clichés of China as a collectivist society and an imitative economy. But fostering creativity needed by designers as a needed value might seem in doubt as long as artists such as Ai Weiwei face politicial oppression.

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