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A Design Museum for China

An international collaboration will bring a new design museum to China, writes Ola Bednarczuk.

Shekou Museum


BY Janice Seow

June 26th, 2014


Shenzhen will soon be home to China’s very first major design museum. The project was announced earlier this month following a recent agreement between the China Merchants Group (CMG) – whose real estate flagship will develop the museum – and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

The studio of Pritzker-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki has been commissioned for the design. The museum will form part of Maki’s Shenzhen Sea World Cultural Arts Center, situated on Shenzhen’s Shekou Peninsula – a large-scale urban development comprising retail, commercial, cultural and residential spaces. Early images of Maki’s design for the Shekou design museum reveal cantilevered forms in the architect’s trademark understated modernist style, punctuated by green public spaces.

Shekou Museum

“As part of our redevelopment of the Shekou district of Shenzhen we wanted to offer the local residents an internationally important museum that would help promote the development of China’s creative industries and further progress design in China,” said China Merchants Group Vice President, Sun Chengming. “We think this collaboration will deliver a truly wonderful new museum.”

The Shekou Museum looks set to further strengthen Shenzhen’s reputation as a vibrant, fast-growing global creative centre, following its nomination as City of Design in 2008 by UNESCO under its Creative Cities Network project. It’s also the beginning of an important international collaboration with the involvement of London’s V&A Museum, the world’s largest museum of design and decorative arts. The V&A will play an advisory role, helping the Shekou Museum to develop its collections and ensure they represent the best of both Chinese and international design.

Shekou Museum

“This is an incredibly exciting project for the V&A,” says Tim Reeve, the V&A’s Chief Operating Officer, of the collaboration. “It builds on the long history the V&A has of working in and with China to share collections, knowledge and expertise.” A senior curator will travel to Shenzhen from London for a three-year post as Head of the Shekou V&A Partnership. The V&A will also curate a designated gallery within the museum, where it will present displays and showcase pieces from its own collections.

The development of the Shekou Museum is an especially timely one, Reeve continues, “at a time when China is emerging at the forefront of new design ideas and creative thinking.”

The Shekou Museum is planned to open at the end of 2016.