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Travels: Beijing, China (November 2006)

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In November, David travelled to Beijing to attend the first committee meeting for the Beijing 2009 Icograda World Congress: which could likely be the largest design conference in history (conservative estimates suggest there are well over 300,000 graphic designers in China). While there, David presented “Weapons of Mass Deception: Design & Social Responsibility” at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, China’s premiere design school housing over 7,000 students. He also attended the opening of AIGA’s first office outside the United States.

Visiting mainland China for the first time left some powerful impressions:

“More skyscrapers are going up in China this decade than exist in all of Manhattan. Meanwhile, to demonstrate preparedness, the mayor of Beijing has declared that all Olympic cranes must be down one year before the games open.”

“The communications design for the 2008 Olympics is being developed by a team of design students and professors at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. I was fortunate enough to be invited to review some of the work, and I could have easily assumed the materials were produced by a top design agency in Los Angeles: both in product and in process. The World’s best known logo is in good hands: it made me think a lot of the benefits of their system of education.”

“In so many ways, the China I’ve been taught about is not the China I met, from the ancient and intricate industrial design of the Great Wall (we trekked 10 kilometres along its trail) to the shockingly fresh and remarkable contemporary art in Beijing’s studio district.”

“During my lecture, I referred to the Mohammed cartoons controversy… hardly anyone had heard of it. I’ve been to over a dozen countries in the past five years: this was the first without CNN in my room.”

David has more stories to tell and many people to thank for their unprecedented hospitality, including Wang Min, Zheng Tao, Liu Bo, and Xiao Yong. If you’d like to hear more, call him! He’s got slides too…

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Reviewed December 3, 2006

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