feature stories

V&A in Shenzhen: UNESCO City of Design Welcomes its First Design Hub

An Exciting International Collaboration

Design Society, a new cultural hub focusing on design and located in The Sea World Culture and Arts Centre designed by Fumihiko Maki, opened to the public in Shekou, Shenzhen, on the 2nd of December with three inaugural exhibitions: Values of Design in the V&A Gallery, on show until August 2019, Minding the Digital in the Main Hall, and Nurturing Dreams in Recent Work: Fumihiko Maki +Maki and Associates in the Park View Gallery, all associated to a range of public events and activities. This is a particularly important moment for the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, which celebrates through the opening of the V&A Gallery at Design Society the result of a pioneering collaboration with China Merchants Shekou (CMSK) to support the establishment of the cultural arm of Design Society and a new chapter in the Museum’s long history of engagement in China.

The opening also comes at a critical time in the history of Shenzhen and the PRD, where design and innovation have been identified as essential factors in the economic development of the region, and in the wider national agenda encouraging innovation and creativity as key driving forces for development in the industries and education. In this context, Design Society has the potential of becoming a strong leader and reference point for both design professionals and the general public.

Being part of this unique collaboration, the first of its kind between a UK institution and a Chinese partner, has been a privilege and an exciting professional and personal opportunity. This is the first time the V&A engages in China with such an ambitious project and long-term commitment, a new model of international collaboration, which has expanded and redefined the international strategy of the Museum. Alongside the development of the V&A Gallery and its exhibition Values of Design a more ‘invisible’ and yet crucial engagement has been unfolding on a daily basis between London and Shenzhen through the provision of expert advice on museum management and operations, and the recruitment and training of Design Society staff members.