Some would consider Danful Yang fortunate because her designs are not constrained by the consumer or market demand. She is perhaps blessed that in her design practice she has the freedom to follow her inspirations and intuition. From her initial involvement with China-France Culture Year in 2003 to gradually being recognized internationally by collectors, Danful Yang can today be considered one of China’s leading conceptual designers.
Chinese people have a fuzzy understanding of design practice, Yang explains. In the design field, practitioners still adhere to very traditional concepts that limit the evolution of the field. Designers are generally regarded as craftsmen by Chinese people rather than specialists that contribute something of value to society. In contrast, designers in the West are granted a higher position in society. Due to this social stereotype, there are less designers in the industry that are there because they are passionate about design. It is wonderful to see, however, that as the economy in China grows, more young people with a passion for design are entering the field.
Right now, Chinese design has a low international profile, says Danful Yang, and more effort needs to be put into the promotion of Chinese design and designers. For an example, Yang draws on her own experience as Creative Director of Pearl Lam Design, which is a pioneering design gallery in China. Pearl Lam Design is the only Chinese gallery that has a booth at the internationally renowned annual design fair, Design Miami / Basel. Of course, she says, it may be that many galleries are excluded because of the fair’s rigorous selection process, but it still demonstrates the lack of opportunities Chinese design has for global recognition.
Yang wholeheartedly believes the world is more than ready to embrace outstanding Chinese design. Designs from the West are omnipresent in the global market, and consumers are growing weary of the Western aesthetic, she explains. International designers are seeking out new inspiration, and it is in this trend that Chinese designers have the opportunity of a lifetime. Chinese designers also have another opportunity: in the West, the cost to manufacture a design is relatively high due to the reliance on machine-made products. However, manufacturing a product in this way does not always result in the best possible design. In the Chinese market, the processes and techniques designers use to complete a design are diverse, and this diversity results in more design innovation.
About Danful Yang
As the Creative Director of Pearl Lam Design, young Chinese designer Danful Yang combines traditional Chinese craft techniques with modern materials and Western design concepts. Her work often features elements from her life in Shanghai infused with her international, multi-cultural experiences. She has also collaborated with internationally renowned designers such as Martin Szekely, Andre Dubreuil, Jurgen Bey, Mattia Bonetti, and Maarten Baas, and her work is held in the collections of Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal; Craig Robins–a principal of Design Miami / Basel; and Billie Milam Weisman of the Fredrick R. Weisman Art Foundation.