Chinoiserie Reborn: designing for the new Silk Route
Asia is predicted to become the largest global consumer of goods and services by 2020. China, in particular, is at the forefront of the ‘Asian Century’, claiming title to the world’s fastest growing major economy. Meanwhile, the Australian furniture industry contributes 25 billion dollars every year to the Australian economy. This not only provides close to 100,000 jobs, but also helps propel a developing design industry. This project looks at developing the Australian furniture industry by designing and manufacturing products that cater for the growing Chinese middle-class. By utilising the unique qualities of Australian timbers and pairing Western modernist aesthetics with Chinese semiotics, this creates the potential to design products for existing niche markets within the Chinese consumer market.
Three key themes are examined forming the basis of the project: the Chinese market, Australian timbers, and Urban Nomadism – a term coined by international trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort. An understanding of the Chinese market influenced the aesthetics, price range and functionality of the final products. Understanding the needs of Chinese consumers is essential. Australian timbers are a unique and under utilised resource that is abundant in Australia. They play an important role as a material choice in discerning Australian products from other products in the market. Urban Nomadism describes the nomadic movements of today’s youth, particularly of those that live in urban environments. This takes into account the practicalities and functional aspects required in the final products.