design society, china's first dedicated cultural design hub, opens in shenzhen

design society, china's first dedicated cultural design hub, opens in shenzhen

design society, china’s first dedicated cultural design hub, has opened its doors to the public in shenzhen. the new institution is housed within the sea world culture and arts center (SWCAC), a building designed by japanese architect fumihiko maki, and houses a new V&A gallery — a collaboration that is the first of its kind between a UK museum and a chinese partner. the design hub, which opened ahead of the bi-city biennale of urbanism\ architecture (held in both shenzhen and hong kong), seeks to encourage audiences to engage in debate about the power of design.

design society shenzhen
all images © design society 



the opening of design society is the result of the pioneering collaboration between china merchants shekou and the victoria and albert museum (V&A) in london. the collaboration comprises the provision of professional advice and training and the concept, development and design of a V&A gallery devoted to international design, including the site-specific inaugural exhibition, values of design; and in addition, the presentation of two major touring V&A exhibitions.

design society shenzhen
design society is china’s first dedicated cultural design hub



‘we are excited and eager to present design society, as a place dedicated to expanding and enriching the design environment of shenzhen and china, and to offer a platform to our global counterparts,’ says ole bouman, director of design society. ‘through our vast network of likeminded cultural institutions and partners, and our program of creative events, exhibitions and activities, we welcome and embrace a long-standing discussion and exploration to further enrich our goal to design society.’

design society shenzhen
the new institution is housed within the sea world culture and arts center



one of the three inaugural exhibitions provides insight into the mind of the building’s architect, fumihiko maki, and hones in on his architectural principles and philosophy of design. titled ‘nurturing dreams in recent work’, visitors are presented with an imaginary tour of his 60-year career plus an exclusive look of the SWCAC structure and the design process from conception to completion.

design society shenzhen
the building is designed by japanese architect fumihiko maki



meanwhile, the main gallery presents an exhibition titled ‘minding the digital’ — curated by design society and designed by MVRDV — reflects on the unprecedented impact digitalization has had through design by exploring the role it plays as a mediator between technology and human values. concurrently, the first exhibition at the V&A gallery is ‘values of design’ and examines the relationship between values and design through over 250 objects ranging from 900AD to the present day from the V&A permanent collection. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

design society shenzhen
a glazed façade presents views out to sea

design society shenzhen
the windows also ensure a generous amount of natural light

design society shenzhen
the interior is organized around a central atrium

design society shenzhen
various circulation routes surround the atrium

design society shenzhen
a sunken plaza provides a secluded outdoor area

design society shenzhen
the institution opened on december 2, 2017

design society shenzhen
design society seeks to encourage audiences to engage in debate about the power of design


about the UABB

designboom is main international media partner of the UABB, the seventh bi-city biennale of urbanism\architecture in shenzhen.

UABB is the only exhibition in the world to explore issues of urbanization, and this year’s edition of is jointly curated by hou hanrou (artistic directore of the MAXXI in rome) and founding partners of architecture studio URBANUS, liu xiaodu and meng yan. under the theme of ‘cities, grow in difference’, three sections are presented:
the two sections of urbanism, namely  – ‘global south’ (liu xiaodu) and – ‘urban village’ (meng yan) are co-curated by zhu ye,
the – ‘art making city’ section (hou hanrou) is co-curated by yang yong.

urban villages and globally distinctive alternative practices are in juxtaposition with the interaction between the urban, architecture, art and culture for research and discussion and UABB’s highlights are the site-specificic installations.
different from other biennales in the world, as a site, the UABB is witness to the most drastic urbanization of the 20th and 21st centuries. as the outcome of collision and fusion between rapid urbanization and the urban-rural dual structure in the planned economic period, urban villages have been preserved as a highly potent urban laboratory and base for breeding alternative lifestyles, where newcomers start to settle in the city. the curatorial team wants to redefine the experience for visitors, in view of the special environment of the urban village — a more diversified, open-minded understanding and imagination on urban living and evolutionary patterns, thus to critically think about the value of urban life.

UABB’s main venue is nantou old town, shenzhen, china, with sub-venues set up in other urban villages around shenzhen.
december 15, 2017 – march 15, 2018

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
508,135 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine