Shanghai Design Week

Steve Lau, co-CEO of Shanghai Design Week

CR: So thank you so much for having me, it’s very exciting to be here. It’s a big day!

SL: It is a big day, yeah.

CR: I’m sure it represents the culmination of a lot of hard work for you and all your colleagues, so congratulations.

SL: Thank you.

CR: Can you tell me what you expect to see from the three-year cooperation memorandum between Shanghai Design Week and London Design Festival?

SL: We’re just starting today, the exhibition features more than thirty-three brands and showcases one hundred and sixty-eight exhibits. It’s a key opportunity to bring the world’s design in and put the Shanghai Design out. So that’s the key focus and that’s why we’re pleased to collaborate with London Design Festival.

The four key areas in which we are collaborating will be firstly, the creative industry… The Shanghai government is trying to drive Shanghai to be a world-class design city by 2030. The second will be to enable the design ecosystem to be the key focus. And not only from a design perspective but throughout production as well. Thirdly, the talent exchange – this kind of collaboration will be hugely beneficial to both cities. And fourthly, cultural exchange, London and Shanghai both have an enormous amount of history to share, and as we know, history inspires design – so we look forward to working together.

CR: In your opinion, why is design such an important element of Shanghai Culture?

SL: As I previously stated, the Shanghai government has huge goals for 2030, but also practically speaking, by 2025 the Shanghai creative and design industry is set to be worth about two trillion yen – this year it is about 1.5, so that’s a huge increase.

The reason we set up Shanghai Design Week is to support those creative industries. Today focuses more on the consumer side, because of the exhibitions, but later on, there will be further presentations on the architectural side.

CR: How important is sustainability and what impact will it have on a global scale?

SL: It will be really important. The materials need to be sustainable, the entire concept needs to be sustainable, so we need to work globally because it will be a global supply chain. It’s not only China but the rest of the world.

CR: And how will London artists and designers benefit from Shanghai Design Week?

SL: We’re hoping that it will encourage more designers to come to Shanghai. Particularly as Shanghai is a very open and dynamic city and we hope that British designers will want to come to help build Shanghai as a city of design together.

CR: Brilliant, and so great to hear how many Shanghai designers study in London already and then continue to collaborate throughout their careers.

SL: Yes many. It’s happening organically!

CR:  Which global designs are you most excited about?

SL: I actually come from the server design industry, I have a dual role, working for Activation Group and as the director of Shanghai Design Week. Digital design and AIGC are already helping to transform the design industry, they can enhance productivity, it saves time and money throughout the process. I’m already seeing trends in how AIGC will support the design industry and will be elemental in its evolution.

CR: What is your favourite piece of architecture in London?

SL: (laughter) Wow. I come to London a lot. I love it so much and so do my kids. In fact, I’m planning to send my daughter to study here. So if I had to choose, Westminster Palace and Big Ben.

CR: Yes especially now that it’s so clean and so blue!

SL: It is yes. I love London, I really do. I visited a lot more before the pandemic, but with this collaboration, I hope to be here a lot more.

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