Design in China and Italy. Chinese design show in Rome at the Maxxi


5' di lettura

The ties between China and Italy can be traced back 2,000 years ago, and old Chang'an City and Rome were situated at the two ends of the ancient Silk Road. Globalation is the mission endowed by the Silk Road on the Chinese and Italian for two thousand years. Throughout the ages, frequent visits of numerous friendly messengers including Marco Polo, Matteo Ricci, and Giuseppe Castiglione via the Silk Road had promoted the in-depth exchanges between China and Italy in economy and culture, and served as a bridge of friendship between the two contury's people. At the same time, the exchanges between Chinese and Italian art design reveals the historical truth of integration and symbiosis of diverse cultures and the creation of human civilization.
When proposing the Belt and Road in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping reawakened the memories of prosperity that had been familiar to us a long time ago. His ideas of trade development, investment in overland and maritime channels, cooperation and exchanges with countries along the route, including Italy, have brought Italy and China closer together. Today, to foster cooperation and exchanges in the field of design between China and Italy, Economic Daily and its Art and Design Press hold the “Design China” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome on March 20, when Chinese President Xi Jinping pays a state visit to Italy.

The ancient people were indeed far more narrow-minded compared to modern people. However, this is in no way true of the exchanges between China and Italy: Nestorian Stele (in AD 781, Shi Jingjing, Lyu Xiuyan wrote inscription) describes the teachings and rituals of Nestorianism as well as its activities over 150 years after it was introduced to China in the ninth year in the reign of Taizong Emperor of Tang (635). There were inscriptions of monks carved in Old Syriac.


On the afternoon of October 5, 1970, two pottery jars filled with over 1,000 pieces of goods transported via the Silk Road were unearthed in Hejia Village in the southern suburbs of Xi'an. These goods can be divided into 271 pieces of gold and silverware, 8 pieces of silver copper, 22 pieces of silver cakes, 60 pieces of silver plates, 466 pieces of gold, silver and copper coins, 3 pieces of agateware, one piece of glazed ware, one piece of crystal ware, 10 pieces of jade belts, one pair of jade armlet, and 13 pieces of gold jewelry. Besides, there were also gold foil, jade, gemstones, and such like which are called “treasures of Hejia Village.” There are up to 39 kinds of coins in “treasures of Hejia Village”,including Kaiyuan Tongbao popular in the Tang Dynasty, Gaochang Jili from Gaochang Nation State, Hetong Kaibao cast by Japanese Empress Genmei, and the Persian Sassanid silver coins, and East Roman gold coins, etc.
“Treasures of Hejia Village” also shows a rich multicultural factor. On top of the above coins from foreign lands, there is also a plain jar-shaped silver cup with handle imported from Sogdiana, a gold-plated agate cup with beast head from West Asia, Roman-style high-footed silver cup with hunting scenes, and white jade honeysuckle-patterned tall cup in the shape of Persian long cup, etc. These are the goods that China exported to Rome. The new empire, new order, new religion, new technology, new culture and an open mindset and environment had given rise to the Silk Road extending from Chang'an to Istanbul, Rome and Venice, as well as the millennia-old glory. Looking back, we cannot really overlook the “Chinese road” that joins the world in a unique way, and the importance of this road.

The cooperation between China and Italy in design reached its heyday in the Middle Ages, when the Italian handicraft industry was in the vanguard worldwide. Numerous Italian skilled craftsmen and artisans injected exquisiteness and luxury into raw materials from China. Then, these unparalleled, ingenious goods were brought to the world through capable merchants of Genova, Venice and Amalfi.
We can see the world by looking back at the history. In the long history, we see the transformation from handicraft to modern industries. Milan, Turin, Venice, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have embarked on the road of industrialization, and the design has become the common language of China and Italy. As we all know, Italian design occupies a prominent position in the history of modern and contemporary design. Italian design and fashion have long been recognized and favored by Chinese consumers. Since China's reform and opening-up, design concepts and works from all over the world have enlightened and inspired contemporary design in China, and the designs with Chinese characteristics have been formed, putting Chinese design on the global arena.

In recent years, more and more Chinese designers present during the Milan Design Week have received enthusiastic attention and plaudits from those in the Italian and global design area. This undoubtedly demonstrates the progress and rise of Chinese design. The design works represent contemporary China. The 100 works or so on display this time in Italy showcase the “Chinese scrolls” and the experience of Chinese designers in dealing with new and old cultures since the reform and opening-up. I am fully confident that the design works on display in this exhibition are the perfect portrayal of the Chinese people embracing a beautiful life.

China's design, which has seen “modernization” and relies on industrial production, has witnessed new changes in recent years. There is growing demand for “local design” and “design innovation”: the oriental style as well as the revitalization of tradition, digitalization and high-tech are placed on the agenda by designers. The Chinese design presents a complex, diverse state.
Against a background of the transformation and upgrading of the economic development mode and the people's longing for a better life and spiritual needs, the Chinese design is gradually gaining momentum. Not only is design the innovation that moves with the times, but it is also an integral component of the community of a shared future for mankind. In the context of China's robust economic development, the Chinese design keeps abreast of the times. Rather than laying stress on innovation alone, Chinese design promotes the progress and development of original design at the strategic level. China's excellent original design preserves the traditional Chinese cultural elements, and continues the traditional Chinese philosophical thinking. Based on the visual aesthetic and value orientation in the current society, Chinese design moves with the trend, and carries out continuous development and innovation.

“Civilization becomes colorful through communication, and diverse through mutual learning.” The Chinese design works brought by the Chinese Art and Design Press constitute a realistic framework for contemporary Chinese design. It will open up a new perspective for the Italian and provide a new window for the Italian audience to observe China at different levels. While conveying the idea of equal dialogue, exchange and common development between Chinese and Italian designers, it also bears witness to the historic creation of outstanding Chinese designers.

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