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We live in an era defined by unprecedented digitalisation.

Minding the Digital

Featuring about 60 China-based and international works from leading and emerging creative practices, MINDING THE DIGITAL offers a journey of exploration into how the field of design is responding to this phenomenon.

We live in an era defined by unprecedented digitalisation—in China and beyond. As the medium between people and technology, digital design is shaping the way we interact with, each other and the world. This phenomenon has taken our lives by storm.

Since China entered into the mobile Internet era in 2009, the ubiquitous network has become the all-powerful facilitator for everything to take place digitally including creation, communication and expression. We have experienced an incredible infiltration of mobile phones, smart wearables and responsive environments which are widening our senses and capabilities. These daily experiences are all moulded by meticulous design processes.

Featuring about 60 China-based and international works from leading and emerging creative practices, MINDING THE DIGITAL offers a journey of exploration into how the field of design is responding to this phenomenon. It is timely to reflect on how design can mediate between technology and human values in the future. Through three key sections DIGITAL ENCOUNTER, DIGITAL INTERACTIONS and DIGITAL PARTICIPATION, the exhibition illustrates how digital design is inspiring new ways of making things, connecting with the others and with society at large. It demonstrates creative possibilities in embracing the digital future.

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Research Pavilion, Achim Menges and Jan Knippers, Photo: ©ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart

Digital Encounter

Digital Encounter discusses the interplay between human and machine intelligence in design, questioning whether they will complement or contest in the digital era. 3D printed chair Microstructures by Dutch designer Joris Laarman, Solid C2 Chair by French designer Patrick Jouin, digitally fabricated furniture by Chinese designer Zhang Zhoujie, as well as Superclover by British designer Michael Young and Czech luxury brand Lasvit show the importance of algorithms and digital fabrication tools in generating new forms which are previously unachievable. The biomimetic, robotically fabricated Research Pavilion 2013-2014 by Achim Menges and Jan Knippers of Stuttgart University; and the light-reactive, digitally knitted pavilion Polythread by Cornell University assistant professor Jenny Sabin show how profound research and human’s interpretation of nature still play crucial role in the design.

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ANIMA II by Studio Nick Verstand in collaboration with onformative, Salvador Breed, Pufferfish, Photo©onformative

Digital Interactions

Digital Interactions first illustrates the growing intimacy and empathy between us and design objects and interfaces, juxtaposed with alternative design practices which reinvigorate connections between us, the others and our history. Design such as the reactive, human-like sphere ANIMA by Dutch artist Nick Verstand can intelligently interpret our body movements and portrays its character by responding with audiovisual expressions. However, the six-screen kungfu visualization installation Reactor by Australian digital arts professor Jeffrey Shaw in collaboration with Hing Chao and Sarah Kenderdine, and poetic “Kung Fu Motion Visualization” by German designer Tobias Gremmler rebuild us with people and heritage.

Digital PartIcipation

The last section Digital Participation invites the audience to experience the power of design as an innovative force in the industry and also our communities. It features Design Society’s original research led by Programme Director Zhao Rong and Senior Curator Carrie Chan, which will illustrate how China’s design ecology is being shaped by the latest digital technologies and the Internet Plus strategy. This research is supported by Tongji University and China Academy of Fine Arts. Apart from accelerating industrial changes, digital design can empower individuals’ creativity as seen in open-source design platforms by Open Desk and Wikihouse whose practices are also expanding in China.

Preparation
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Design Society's Senior Curator Carrie Chan, Ole Bouman and Zhang Zhoujie, 2017

In the creation of new exhibitions, it is important to find topics that resonate broadly with the wider audience. Through research that critically explores current developments in the creative fields and collaboration with experts in academia and practice, the curatorial program aims to be an interface with which to engage Design Society’s audience on multiple levels.In the creation of new exhibitions, it is important to find topics that resonate broadly with the wider audience. Through research that critically explores current developments in the creative fields and collaboration with experts in academia and practice, the curatorial program aims to be an interface with which to engage Design Society’s audience on multiple levels.

Design Society strives to identify exhibition topics that demand urgent discussion, presenting the audience with subjects that have a far-reaching presence and influence in their lives. From local to global, from the general public to creative communities, each exhibition topic aims to provide a current, relevant, critical and enjoyable experience for all.Design Society strives to identify exhibition topics that demand urgent discussion, presenting the audience with subjects that have a far-reaching presence and influence in their lives. From local to global, from the general public to creative communities, each exhibition topic aims to provide a current, relevant, critical and enjoyable experience for all.

The curatorial team undertakes extensive research, covering both local and international perspectives. Important topics are first identified by following developments in society, then investigated by collaborating with institutions and individuals conducting research in related fields, and by identifying the most representative and critical design practices that reflect these developments. This research process is also a network-building process, helping Design Society identify and connect with talents and leading scholars.The  curatorial team undertakes extensive research, covering both local and international perspectives. Important topics are first identified by following developments in society, then investigated by collaborating with institutions and individuals conducting research in related fields, and by identifying the most representative and critical design practices that reflect these developments. This research process is also a network-building process, helping Design Society identify and connect with talents and leading scholars.

This all comes together in Minding the Digital, the opening show in the Main Gallery. Inspired by current developments within the field of digital design, extensive research was undertaken to investigate how the current digital phenomenon has an impact on our ways of thinking, our relationships and our society.This all comes together in Minding the Digital, the opening show in the Main Gallery. Inspired by current developments within the field of digital design, extensive research was undertaken to investigate how the current digital phenomenon has an impact on our ways of thinking, our relationships and our society.

The exhibition, designed by MVRDV in collaboration with Thonik and the curatorial team, was converted into a site for the public, stimulating their thoughts with everyday design objects, soliciting their interaction with empathetic interfaces and promoting their involvement in participatory spaces.

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Design Society丨Main Gallery

The Main Gallery is the Sea World Culture and Arts Center’s largest exhibition space, positioned at the very heart of the building. The Main Gallery will present immersive, interactive, and experimental experiences, touching on major topics in design today. In short the Main Gallery is Design Society’s manifesto. A place where all of Design Society’s ambitions are integrated: from the choice of topics, to collaboration with other parties, and cutting edge curatorial research.

Minding the Digital Trailer10

Inaugural Exhibition of Design Society

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