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Hardcover | $25.95 Trade | £20.95 | 168 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 46 figures, 1 table | March 2012 | ISBN: 9780262017428
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China's Design Revolution

Foreword by Xin Xiangyang


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.

About the Author

Lorraine Justice, formerly Director of the School of Design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, is Dean of the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Table of Contents

  • China’s Design Revolution
  • Design Thinking, Design Theory
  • Ken Friedman and Erik Stolterman, editors
  • Design Things
  • ,
  • A. Telier (Thomas Binder, Pelle Ehn, Giorgio De Michelis, Giulio Jacucci, Per Linde, and Ina Wagner), 2011
  • China’s Design Revolution,
  • Lorraine Justice, 2012
  • China’s Design Revolution
  • Lorraine Justice
  • foreword by Xin Xiangyang
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • ©
  • 2012
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Stone Sans and Stone Serif by Graphic Composition, Inc. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • {Comp: Please fill in font, compositor, and location}
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Justice, Lorraine, 1955– China’s design revolution / Lorraine Justice ; foreword by Xin Xiangyang.  p. cm. — (Design thinking, design theory) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-262-01742-8 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Design—Social aspects—China—History—21st century. 2. Design—Economic aspects—China—History—21st century. 3. Youth—Social aspects—China. 4. Youth—Economic aspects—China. I. Title. NK1483.A1J87 2012 745.40951'09051—dc23 2011038981
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • To Steve and Alexa, who took the journey East with me
  • Contents
  • Series Foreword
  • ix
  • Foreword by Xin Xiangyang
  • xv
  • Preface
  • xix
  • Acknowledgments
  • xxiii
  • 1 Introduction
  • 1
  • 2 From Master to Mister
  • 15
  • 3 The First and Second Generations of Workers in the PRC
  • 39
  • 4 The Third Generation
  • 59
  • 5 Brands, Trends, and Product Development in China Today
  • 77
  • 6 Third-Generation Designers
  • 93
  • 7 Design as the Driver for China’s Future Economic Success
  • 113
  • 8 The Fourth Generation
  • 125
  • Notes
  • 131
  • Bibliography
  • 141
  • Index
  • 143


“This brilliant book helps us understand why the Chinese and the design-minded in China think and act as they do, what their design scene is today and what the historic development behind the current situation has been like. I would highly recommend China’s Design Revolution to anyone considering hiring or collaborating with designers in China, or with the increasing amount of Chinese designers all around the world.”
Anna Valtonen, Rector, Professor, Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå University, Sweden