Made in China or designed in China?


I read this very interesting article on the International Herald Tribune by Alice Rawsthorn that presented the brand identity work of graphic designer, Central Academy of Fine Arts (where I exhibited my work at ‘Beijing Typography’ last November) graduate, Liu Zhizhi. His work and ideas are a parallel with my Amsterdam via KLM post that puts in perspective how design is a motor for the creation of national symbols that speak to contemporary citizens and is not just part of museums or ruins.

Liu Zhizhi has created a logo for Brand New China, BCN like he calls it, which is a new shop at a new hoping-to-become trendy shopping centre, Sanlitun’s Village North, probably the next 798 District (see previous blogpost). The botanical drawings depicted on the logo are mint, grains of sticky rice and a leek, all of them representatives of a traditional Chinese home kitchen and which first letters in Chinese are BCN. He has also used beautiful printing and paper-making techniques, typical of Chinese craft to devise the shop’s image.

“An important difference between China and the West is that we respond to things instinctively,” he said. “Westerners often want to understand things by rationalizing them, whereas we just feel and know. Our relationship to visual culture is intuitive and fluid.”
“You can see that in the BNC identity, but there are other very obvious Chinese elements in it,” he continued. “Not so much if you look at the symbols individually, but when you see them together. For example, the two main images, the mint and leek, are facing you flat on the page. The way the space is filled up is very Chinese, too. You can see both of those elements in traditional Chinese painting.”

Through his work, even though a drop in the ocean of all the Chinese sub-standard design out there, he intends to revive the visual excellency that his artists’ ancestors developed through centuries.  I think there is simplicity in his design, nonetheless, the narrative behind it is very unique and culturally rooted.


China designs


Visual identity designed by Liu Zhizhi©

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