The Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University’s Design School has taken its Degree Show showcasing students’ final-year projects off campus to reach a broader audience.
Architecture and Industrial Design students’ works, ranging from innovated hand-held products to urban-scale design, were exhibited from 16 July to 29 July at Suzhou True Colour Museum. The Degree Show coincided with the museum’s celebrated monthly Design Crafts Market, which typically attracts more than 20,000 people in its three-day July showing.
“The museum and market are renowned for exhibiting high-standard contemporary art and crafts. It allows our students to connect with other people from the design discipline who will see their work here,” said Professor Gisela Loehlein, Head of XJTLU’s Department of Architecture.
The July show also was the first time the Architecture and Industrial Design departments collaborated for a joint degree show featuring a mix of small- and large-scale designs, she said.
Student projects address environmental, cultural, social and communal challenges faced across the globe, said Richard Hay, Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture.
“They explore and create a diversity of human-centric, environmentally oriented responses for the benefit of wider humanity,” said Hay, an exhibition coordinator.
Some of the architecture students’ projects include “Manifesto”, which investigates how architecture could address segregated communities and positively impact people’s mental health, specifically children with emotional and behavioural difficulties; “Venice: an Archive”, which seeks to create an eternal digital archive building in Venice, providing an immersive space for the public to perceive and experience; and “Living Infrastructure”, a multi-layered reconstruction that addresses the rising sea level in Sydney.
Industrial Design student works include “Magikit”, a toy kit for deaf and mute children to help them communicate with the outside world; “Classopoly”, an educational, interactive board game to teach children about school subjects and life skills; and “ENDLESS”, an app-based service for senior citizens to record stories from their life’s journey to share with loved ones.
“The degree show demonstrates how a new generation of XJTLU students has the ability to contribute to improving China’s societal, economic and environmental assets,” said Massimo Imparato, Head of Department of Industrial Design.
“To me, it’s a great honour to be selected as part of the exhibition, and it’s a rare opportunity to share XJTLU students’ work and to receive feedback from people with different backgrounds,” said Ruqing Lyu, an architecture graduate student.
For her project “Dynamic Openness”, Lyu designed a building that facilitates a non-hierarchical migrant community, addressing problems caused by insufficient resources and their unequal distribution for migrants in Shanghai.
“By reorganising my project, I also get the chance to reflect on how to express my ideas more clearly, and to let more people understand the abstract design process,” she said.
Yuwen Li, an industrial design graduate who designed “Classopoly”, said she is grateful for the platform provided by XJTLU to introduce her work to a wide spectrum of museum visitors.
Inspired by Monopoly, Classopoly motivates children to learn during play. Key features of the game are engaging, interactive, random and, most importantly, rewarding.
“The exhibition brings my product to a wider audience, and their feedback offered new inspiration. In addition, visitors’ recognition and fondness underscored the game’s social value and practicality, giving me a great sense of achievement.”
In the degree show, a series of merchandise bags designed by Vicente Esteban, Associate Professor in Department of Industrial Design, are exhibited alongside student works.
Felt is the primary material, drawing from a research project about the material waste generated by the end of semester in the Industrial Design Department.
“These bags are presented as a design process, with the initial drawings, the several models that we made to define shapes and functional parts, until the final models ready to be mass produced,” says Esteban, “We hope that this design process serves to our students to understand the number of iterations and tests needed to create a product.”
“This show can act as a way to connect the students’ freshly finished studies to their future careers by generating exposure and start to grow a professional network,” said Martijn Rigters, Lecturer in the Department of Industrial Design, also a show coordinator.
The Degree Show for Architecture was simultaneously held virtually in the Design Building at XJTLU where the Department of Architecture is located. Students’ works were displayed digitally on a dozen screens.
By Yi Qian
Photos by Yi Qian
Edited by Kathleen Green Pothier