Art in the 90s: the rise of Eco-design

The end of the 20th century was a time of rapid industrialisation in China. It was noted on the world stage that if Asian countries started to pollute at the same rate as the Western world, then the environmental disasters predicted in the 1970s would come true much earlier than expected. The seriousness of the situation was acknowledged across the world culminating in the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, during which the UN drew up the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The field of design, caught between the arts and industry, was directly affected by this need to re-evaluate our gas-guzzling, polluting lifestyle. The 1990s were therefore characterised by the development of the theory of Eco-design, prompted by the article “Design for a Sustainable World” (1988) written by the design historian Victor Margolin and published in Design Issues, and similarly by the work Ecological Design (1996) by Sim van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan which talks of the integration architecture, urbanism and technology in the natural world. The trigger for this wave of thinking had been Ian McHarg’s book Design with Nature (1969), which had laid down the base considerations for environmentally-aware design (soil, climate, hydrology). Nowadays his theories have become the inspiration for the first principle of Smart Cities: harmonisation with nature. Generally in Eco-Design the production of an object should factor in the base material, manufacturing, distribution, usage, waste materials, issues with production or issues with use. Therefore initially, Eco-design was not characterised so much by formal theories or trends but rather by recyclable materials, production processes and environmental impact. As such its status as a separate design movement appears confusing. Sustainable Design Eco-Design was firstly distinguished by the materials which it employed. Whilst 15 to 20% of plastic is recycled, it takes...

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The new players in the Chinese art market

According to Forbes magazine, a new generation of collectors coming out of China is changing the way in which art is bought, forcing the market to rapidly adapt to a changing landscape. According to the financial magazine, there are three distinct types of collector amongst this new breed. Firstly are the 20-30 year-olds; entrepreneurs, bankers or finance magnates, for the most part, who buy beyond traditional Chinese art, paintings and sculpture, venturing into multimedia pieces comprising film, sound and light. This group spends astronomical sums on such works and influences  galleries as much as they do auction houses. The market has recognised this trend: Art021 Art Fair, Shanghai, has chosen to focus on this part of the market and auction houses are trying to transform these buyers into true collectors. Auction house Christie’s fully understands this new generation, to the extent that they have opened an outpost in Shanghai. “We can act as we do in any of our offices, such as New York, Paris and Hong Kong; however, being in Shanghai allows us to target our Chinese customers more accurately. The Chinese market has become deeper, bigger and broader,” explains Jonathan Stone to FinanceAsia. “The wave of energy from Asian collectors swept through our sale in Hong Kong as well as in other locations this year,” agrees Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific. The second of these categories is made up not of buyers but of hardened collectors who are on the lookout for hugely valuable pieces. Contrary to most collectors, they do not start their collections with smaller, affordable works; rather, whether they be impressionist, modern or contemporary works, their first acquisitions are blue chip Western masterpieces. This group was strongly represented in March 2014 at Christie’s New York’s Spring Evening Sales, an event which took $745 million, of which nearly 30% was spent by...

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