Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta in China is one of the fastest growing design and technology hubs in the world. The opening of the V&A Gallery, Shenzhen, China marks an international collaboration between China Merchants Shekou Holdings (CMSK) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London following a three year knowledge exchange programme partnership.
The V&A’s first international gallery is in Design Society in Shekou, Shenzhen, a new cultural hub with exhibition and cultural spaces dedicated to design that aims to connect China to the world through its collaborative work, and explore how design, society, industry and everyday life interconnect. It is located inside the Sea World Culture and Arts Center (SWCAC), a new purpose-built cultural destination operated by Design Society and designed by Japanese architects Maki & Associates.
The V&A Gallery opens with the site-specific exhibition, ‘Values of Design’, designed by the Sam Jacob Studio, featuring over 250 objects from the V&A’s collections. In developing ‘Values of Design’, the V&A has added forty-five new objects to its collection to reflect a dialogue with the wider design world. One new piece is WeChat (Weixin), the most widely used social platform in China. The addition of WeChat makes the V&A the world’s first museum to collect a social media application. Other key acquisitions, developed in Shenzhen, include a Phantom drone from DJI, a UAV-technology company, and the Seeeduino Microcontroller by Seeed Studio.
The collaboration is the first of its kind between an international museum and a Chinese partner with the V&A providing advice and training to help establish Design Society as a new cultural platform. Since 2014, the V&A and Design Society have been working to engage with a network of creative practices, museum professionals, educators and the wider local community. These include university design schools, makerspaces, museums and designer studios in Shenzhen as well as Guangzhou, Shantou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. In 2015 the V&A presented the exhibition ‘Unidentified Acts of Design’ at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale (UABB), and also at the London Design Festival in 2016. A maker in residence in Shenzhen was part of Design Society pre-opening activities and the British Council’s ‘Hello Shenzhen” project in March and October 2017. The future V&A programme features two touring exhibitions at Design Society.