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Chinese design will not copy but create, says designer

By Bo Leung in London | | Updated: 2017-11-16 01:20

Chinese furniture house Zuoyou's new art director predicts that Chinese design will, in less than 10 years, move from "copycat" to "highly creative" and become a major force in the industry.

Dutch designer Richard Hutten, who describes his style as avant-garde, playful, and functional, said China's design industry is changing and people are attaching more importance to design and originality.

Based in Rotterdam, Hutten said he has always been attracted to Asia. He worked in Japan in the mid-1990s and then in South Korea and first traveled to the Chinese mainland in 2008.

"Zuoyou is one of the largest furniture companies in China and I can make a difference in creating a special collection for them," he said. "I can make a big collection and create high-end designs at affordable prices for the people of China."

Hutten started work as art director of Zuoyou in April.

Zuoyou was founded in 1989 in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and has more than 2,000 stores in China.

His first collection for the company was revealed during a soft-launch at the Shenzhen International Design Fair earlier this month, where he was also curator and guest of honor.

He said China is moving away from a copying culture.

"China was a copy industry, which was the same in Japan and South Korea until they moved away from this and toward really good designs," he said. "That is what is slowly happening in China now, copyright laws are more respected and there is an understanding of the importance of original design and quality."

He said he wants to see China set its own trends, instead of following them.

"Trends are a mild form of copying and what China should do is not follow the latest craze but make its own trend and style and I’m sure that, in the next five to10 years, that will start to happen."

Hutten graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 1991, and founded his design studio the same year.

His work is held in the permanent collections of more than 40 museums around the world, including MoMA New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, making him one of the most collected living designers.

"In China, there is still a lot of traditional furniture but there are already big changes. In bigger cities, people tend to be more open for really contemporary design. The income of the Chinese people is growing rapidly and their buying power is also increasing rapidly."

Hutten is planning on incorporating elements from Chinese furniture into his designs and giving them a contemporary interpretation.

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