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New Design Contest Looks To Get China’S Creative Juices Flowing

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From afar, China seems like an emerging design powerhouse. Every year, more than 10,000 students graduate from the mainland’s 400 design schools. Chinese brands such as home appliance maker Haier and computer manufacturer Lenovo, which produce innovative technologies, are succeeding worldwide.

Companies are setting aside billions of yuan for research and development over the next several years. But the picture up close is less inspiring, particularly where design skills are honed: at school.

“I’ve experienced both highs and lows with regard to design – sometimes in the same day, sometimes simultaneously,” says Ben Hughes, who is working at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts.

Two years ago, he quit his job teaching industrial design at Central Saint Martins in London, moved to Beijing and began working at the academy’s small but emerging school of design.

“Sometimes [students] can leave me exasperated through their lack of knowledge of design, practical skills and insight, but then the same student can amaze me with some excellent work the following week.”

Hughes says the biggest problem is the lack of incentive to innovate, a by-product of the mainland’s cheap manufacturing and weak intellectual property laws.

Read the rest of this article at South China Morning Post

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