Plymouth College of Art’s Making Futures conference is set to become a transnational affair this month, with a pop-up version of the popular contemporary crafts conference being held in China as part of Beijing Design Week.
Making Futures aims to explore the role of contemporary crafts as a 'change agent' in 21st century society, especially in relation to global environmental and sustainability issues. The intensive two-day rural ‘retreat’ style conference is traditionally hosted at Mount Edgecumbe in Cornwall.
Making Futures: Beijing is the first version of the conference to be held outside the UK, and builds upon the success of previous Making Futures events in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Speaking of the decision to host a version of the conference in China, Making Futures Curator Malcolm Ferris said:
‘‘Over the last three editions of Making Futures we have really built it up into an international platform. The conference already has a global profile. People are saying it’s the only international event of its kind at the moment, which is great”
“I have also been working with artists and curators in China, and Beijing in particular, for almost six years. Alongside this, I’ve been developing Making Futures in the UK and thought it would be a good idea to bring the two together.”
Beijing Design Week’s profile has increased significantly over the last few years. The week-long event, now in its fourth year, was set up to increase public awareness, discourse and infrastructure for design in the chinese capital – this seems to have worked. In 2012, Beijing was officially recognised as a city of design by UNESCO. Last year more than 1,800 designers and design institutes from all over the world descended on Dashilar, one of Beijing’s oldest Hutong districts, for the event. And this year Beijing Design Week is set to be even bigger and better.
So what can we expect from Making Futures: Beijing? “Well, an extensive urban plan is underway to promote Dashilar as a creative craft and design zone,” explains Malcolm. “And Making Futures: Beijing has been conceived as a response to the urban development of the area.”
In a series of two ‘pop-up’ public events, Making Futures: Beijing will host ‘discursive sessions’ structured around a set of overlapping themes, from the reappearance of small-scale production and consumption, to socially and sustainably engaged projects that incorporate new forms of recycling, renovation and refurbishing.
“We’re moving away from the more formal, academic format of the UK version, to create something that will act as a catalyst, drawing together other design projects happening across Dashilar as part of Beijing Design Week.”
But, says Malcolm: “The ideas, topics and developments that we will discuss reach well beyond the particular example of the Dashilar urban renewal project, and are of relevance to many of the transnational issues facing contemporary industrial societies.”
“Making Futures: Beijing represents one of the first attempts to gather China-based perceptions on the state of contemporary craft and designer-maker practices, whilst placing these in dialogue with other transnational debates.”
Therefore, Making Futures: Beijing should appeal to the general public visiting Dashilar this month, as well as the specialist audience of artists, designers, makers, and associated organisations that make Beijing Design Week such a huge cultural attraction each year.
Beijing Design Week runs from 26 September to 3 October. For more information visit: bjdw.org/en