The Shanghai Exhibition Centre buzzed with design events and conferences including the KOHLER Shanghai Design Forum in March 2018. The Design Shanghai exhibition attracted a maximum number of architects and designers from around the world and it was a great opportunity for us to work together with AD China and Design Shanghai to hold the Design Forum as part of the conference program. This program under the theme ‘Design Visionaries, Design Visions, and Future of Design’ included presentations, speeches, workshops etc. from almost 40 international and Chinese architects and designers.For almost 145 years, Kohler has been in open dialogue with pioneers in the field of product and industrial design and the art field. The Design Forum is a platform to share some of these conversations and experiences with a wider public and to spark conversations about the latest developments in the field of technology and emotional intelligence in the living space.On 15 March 2018, the Design Forum under the theme of ‘Smart Design for Smart People’ opened its doors to creative types from China and other places in the world. The four guest speakers: Kelly Hoppen, Michael Young, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg shared their insights into the design world and their ground-breaking visions for the future of design with the captive audience.Larry Yuen, President K&B Group, welcomed the guests to the Design Forum and gave a short overview of the company and where we are headed. He demonstrated the trend towards an even more connected world by talking about a few product developments.Design power duo George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg who have set up their design firm in 1980 and quickly got to international acclaim, started the presentation round with the questions about the meaning of ‘smart’.As their multidisciplinary approach and endless curiosity have led George and Yabu to extraordinary collaborations, designs in the interior space, products, textiles, lighting designs as well as architecture. For a long time, they have been recognized as design industry innovators who are thoughtful and imaginative and refined. Their names are included in the Wallpaper* 200 Power list and the Business of Fashion BoF 500 List that is the reference guide for shaping the fashion industry. Their studios are located in New York City and Toronto.Michael Young, a British product designer, looked at ‘smart’ from a technological versus crafts angle.
He was well-suited to explore the topic from these sides. At a young age, Michael had started the Michael Young Studio and soon came to fame for his exclusive, high-quality design that ranges from interiors to technology, sophisticated minimalism to pared-down aesthetics. After having worked in the UK and Iceland, he has ventured out to Hong Kong in 2006 where he set up a branch of his studio. Michael’s work that has also been exhibited in museums is often a collaborative project in experimental design, modern design etc. He works with Chinese and local industrialists and seeks to create industrial innovations and industrial art. The latest projects are a seamless blend of East and West.The third speaker Kelly Hoppen is an interior designer, product designer, author, and a TV and film personality in the United Kingdom. Her work is often a fusion between East and West with clean lines and neutral tones. At the same time, she includes warmth and opulence to give it the right balance or to just tip the balance a tiny little bit and keep the designs interesting and intriguing. For the Design Forum, she looked at the balance of technology and emotion and their interplay.
When she is not on stage, Kelly works for private clients, the hospitality industry, businesses etc.The panel discussion at the end of the Design Forum also included Alexis Mabille, the Parisian fashion designer. Alexis attended Design Shanghai after his fantastic fashion show at the Bellagio Shanghai where we celebrated the collaboration between Jacob Delafon and Alexis Mabille. The Jacob Delafon booth presented Alexis’ ‘dream bathroom’ in marble and rose.The panel discussion was led by Aiden Walker, Design Shanghai Forum Program Director. The contemplations what ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ design is provided food for thought for all participants and will certainly be talked about in the design circles for the next year.