beijing design week 2016: LAVA, a design & creative agency with offices in both china and the netherlands, have launched a limited-run magazine dedicated to the baitasi region of beijing city. called LAWAAI, the magazine’s name can be read as either ‘foreigner’ (老外) in chinese or as the dutch word for ‘loud noise’ (噪音). 

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LAWAAI is presented as part of ‘BAITASI remade’ and coincides with beijing design week



LAWAAI is part of the larger ‘BAITASI remade’ scheme — a multifaceted program of projects and events that aim to kick-start the urban renewal of the historic hutong district in the city. first launched as part of the 2015 beijing design week, ‘BAITASI remade’ is a program of urban renewal tasked to integrate a series of architectural interventions, print projects, and soft-strategies of development — all prompted by a wider mission of design based thinking and cultural making. the project set up base in the baitasi district over the course of the festival and became an incubator of ideas, a way to connect artists, locals and festival officials in a driven attempt to activate positive and lasting change in the area. 

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first launched as part of the 2015 beijing design week, ‘BAITASI remade’ is a program of urban renewal



one such project aimed at investigating contemporary communication and its expanding related fields is LAWAAI magazine. for the run of BJDW, a renovated courtyard behind the historic lu xun museum becomes a compact think-tank of designers, writers, graphic artists, photographers, producers and journalists. the walls heave with layers of sticky notes and sharpie’d annotations are hastily scribbled on images, suggesting cuts, crops and highlights.


LAVA’s plan for LAWAAI is to document the people, culture and social history of the baitasi area, churning out as many issues of the zine as possible before the festival comes to an end — a frenzied attempt to preserve and promote the district. to achieve this, magazine contributors take to the streets, engaging directly with baitasi residents, tourists and festival attendees before returning to home base and churning out the finished copy. while the ink’s still wet, they start work on the next.

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the zine is a frenzied attempt to preserve and promote the area



the result is an eclectic mix of eminently collectable zines, a tactile and memorable way of recording the life of baitasi. the content tends to stick to a single (often offbeat) theme per issue; one explores the varying shades of grey to be found throughout the city, another follows a journalist as he goes barbershop hopping. a third jumps from clothes line to clothes line, documenting the soggy fashions suspended above the street.


vibrant, blown-up photos adorn the covers, complete with loud, block color typography and snappy titles. it’s an aesthetic that’s true to the publication’s name — loud, foreign — and undeniably young.  

beijing design week
it’s an aesthetic that’s true to the publication’s name — loud, foreign — and undeniably young



fast and furious is a novelty way to publish, but the gimmick ends there. in an age where documentation — and more importantly, self documentation — is the new cultural currency, LAWAAI lends fresh weight to the concept by serving itself an end date before it’s even begun. the result is a limited run of strange, touching journals that provide a brief insight into the people and places of one of beijing’s most iconic neighborhoods. 


beijing design week