Shanghai Radical Design Week: combining culture and business
China has within a short space of time become a very interesting market for cultural exports. The 2010 Shanghai World Expo provided a unique springboard for Finnish cultural exports to China.
To date, the most visible outcome of these efforts is the Wuxi Opera House, which was designed by the Finnish company PES Architects and inaugurated on 30 April. This autumn will see the launch of the Shanghai Radical Design Week, which is organized under the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 framework. Combining culture and business, Radical Design Week takes place in Shanghai from 26 October to 4 November.
The cultural exports programme to China has been supported and promoted by the Ministry of Education and Culture and by the Finpro creative industries programme. To support communications, a Chinese version of the This is Finland website was opened in 2011. Local social media use has also been very active.
Useful contacts through Team Finland
The Shanghai Radical Design Week is a ten-day series of more than 40 events that bring together a large number of Finnish companies and other partners. It is the single biggest overseas event under the WDC project, combining cultural exports and the interests of Finnish businesses in this area. With more than 160 Finnish companies concentrated in Greater Shanghai, it is hardly surprising that Finnish industry is keen to take advantage of the business potential of this project and has invested heavily in the RDW partnership.
Serving as a local contact network in China is Team Finland, which consists of a number of key public sector partners such as Finpro, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes and the whole FinNode China network. Businesses, city authorities and cultural organizations are welcome to take advantage of the local Team Finland contacts, services and existing collaborations with China. There is one good rule that applies to all cultural exports and export promotion in general: it is a waste of time and resources to try to go it alone in China.
China is embracing internationalization
Rising standards of living mean that China is set to become the world’s biggest market for luxury products by the middle of the decade. This offers tremendous opportunities for Finnish consumer products, which apart from Nokia have previously not been very well known in the country. In Shanghai, Avarte has a furniture production line as well as its own Studio Kukkapuro, Marimekko is moving into China on a whole new level, and Finnish design brands have an ever stronger presence here.
Culture is also being tied in with other aspects of economic cooperation through new forms of city cooperation. Not just city authorities but universities are closely involved as well; two noteworthy examples are provided by the Sino-Finnish Centre in Shanghai, a unique joint effort by the Aalto and Tongji universities, and the Nordic Centre of Fudan University.
With the opening up of Chinese society, there is also growing interest in Finnish music. One of the most popular attractions at the Shanghai World Expo was Finnish heavy metal, which drew record crowds in the exhibition area. Finnish orchestras and choirs performing in Japan and South Korea have also begun to include China in their itineraries.
The text is based on a report by Consul General Matti Heimonen.