On the occasion of the inaugural Westbund Art & Design Fair in Shanghai, Pro Helvetia Shanghai and Design Preis Switzerland are proud to present the exhibition “Excellent Swiss Design.” Curated by Michel Hueter, “Excellent Swiss Design” features the work of five of Switzerland’s most exceptional designers, demonstrating the intricate links between the core traditions of the finest European design and the fresh innovations of the Far East.
On the surface, Chinese and Swiss design might not seem to have much in common, but Hueter skillfully challenges this misconception with an array of creations in different style and materials that transcend culture and geography. Claudia Caviezel’s printed textile wallpaper Naturaleza is an incomparably rich study in color and landscape; wide swaths of floral arrangements sweep across the depth of canvas, recalling the intricacy Chinese traditional bird-and-flower painting.
Michel Charlot’s everyday objects, meanwhile, bring the viewer back to the present day with great finesse. Cast entirely from aluminum, his pristine lamps, tables, chairs, and delightfully practical roll-up bins sit at the pinnacle of industrial sensibility—nodding to the progression of expression, visual and otherwise, in China today.
For her part, the young jewelry designer Florian Dupont distills material down to its most elegant essence—the pinnacle of ancient Chinese thought. Her series of rhodium-plated silver pieces, titled “The Remains Collection,” employ only the bare minimum of material to realize their aesthetic functions. Adorned with such surprising yet familiar objects as silicone, water pearls, and human and dog hair, these beautiful pieces evoke a resourceful mode of affectation increasingly seen among her young Chinese contemporaries.
As expressions of identity in China become ever more variegated, so do ways of domestic life. Zurich-based Mortiz Schmid’s oak shelf Etage is a perfect compliment to the newfound focus on the details of daily living in China, and especially in Shanghai, where the expert craftsman’s audience is sure to react with an incomparably refined admiration. The same reaction might be expected in encountering the world-renowned creations of Création Baumann AG, whose e-broidery light textiles seen here wonderfully shed both figurative and literal light on the appreciation for both form and function that is taking roots in the minds of Chinese consumers.
In the words of Michel Hueter, “Each individual work tells a story, which embraces yesterday, today and tomorrow. They tell of origins, attitudes and skills… They demonstrate consistent innovative imagination, issuing in identity, presence and competitive advantage.” Shown exclusively at the West Bund Art & Design, alongside the most fêted artists and designers that Asia has to offer, these artists with their works are poised to narrate yet another story: that of Swiss design finding a new home right here, halfway across the world.
“Excellent Swiss Design” is facilitated by Design Preis Switzerland, a highly prestigious biennial competition that has sat at the forefront of innovation in Swiss design since 1991, driving design’s role in society by awarding prizes for outstanding performance in seven professional fields.