As every year in March, the annual exhibition dedicated to high-end design furniture was held at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, Design Shanghai.

Design Shanghai is undoubtedly the highest design-content trade fair in Asia (after the Shanghai exhibition, of course), and it is a fact that this content is largely due to the presence of Italian brands, and Italian designers who work with Chinese companies.

Qeeboo, from an idea by Stefano Giovannoni, a most popular brand in Shanghai.

At its fifth edition, Design Shanghai 2018 hosts more than 400 highly selected exhibitors, and in the 2017 edition it attracted more than 50 thousand visitors; an interesting number, as it is a rather small exhibition by our standards. If we add that it covers an area of over 40 thousand square meters in a historic exhibition center, we complete a picture which was already very positive.

Shanghai Exhibition Center

However, it’s not easy to describe Design Shanghai: organized by Media 10, the same company that manages 100% Design in London, it has certainly inherited its imprint, mixing with the culture of Shanghai, a city with many facets, where traditions are sometimes strong, while sometimes instead they have been completely swallowed up by Western influences, past and present.

Zaozuo, a young Chinese brand cinese with the art direction by Luca Nichetto.

Design Shanghai is exactly like this: contemporary brands – many of which are Italian – are flanked by very traditional furnishings. Among the foreign furniture brands, direct exhibitors are the ones who are best able to convey their philosophy, while when it is the distributors who exhibit, the communicative power of the exhibition – which is a characteristic of Italian companies, for example – is lost a little.

MisuraEmme booth at Design Shanghai 2018.

From the point of view of products range, Shanghai Design tries to be as varied as possible: furniture, bathroom, kitchen, office/contract, a selection of table art, and a section with private access, dedicated to “Collectible design”; here you can find some galleries and companies that have special fittings, including also Gufram.

The Gufram booth at Design Shanghai 2018.

The affluence is very high, at times the crowd is so thick as to make it difficult to work. The quality of the exhibition is high, but perhaps it’s time to start working on the details, for example by making the plants clearer to make it easier for the exhibitors to visit. However, the doubt arises that the spaces occupied by Design Shanghai are becoming insufficient to accommodate a constantly growing demand. But they explained that they prefer to become more selective, rather than bigger, because a design event in Shanghai finds its best place in that exhibition venue.
No wonder, then, that with imports of Made in Italy growing at a rate of 30% per year, China is becoming more and more attractive for companies that focus on exports.

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