Chinese students exhibit fan designs at the Louvre

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"XJTLU students are full of creative ideas."
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Traditional Chinese fans with a contemporary flair have been displayed at the Louvre in France, following a collaboration between Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University students and fan designer Chun Sheng of Suzhou Sheng Feng Cultural and Creative Development.

Four students from the Department of Industrial Design at XJTLU worked with the Suzhou-based company to create innovative conceptual designs for traditional Chinese fans that were selected to appear in The Louvre’s International Heritage Fair exhibition in October.

The students worked alongside fan designer Sheng, a master of traditional fan making techniques that are listed by UNESCO as part of China’s intangible cultural heritage, to create the unique designs.

“XJTLU students are full of creative ideas,” said Sheng of her experience. “I really enjoyed working with them.”

Academic Dr Cheng-Hung Lo said the fans were developed as part of an industry collaboration studio module in the BEng Industrial Design programme, which exposes students to the opportunities and constrains of real-life design projects.

“The company were highly impressed by our students’ design work during the semester’s studio module,” said Dr Lo.

“That’s why they invited us to participate in their exhibition at the Louvre.

“Through working with Master Sheng, our students gained experience of what it is actually like to work as a designer – negotiating, compromising, and working together with the client to realise a product.”

Having learned first-hand about ancient fan production techniques, the students made use of XJTLU’s advanced equipment such as a laser cutter to create unique fan designs combining the traditional with the contemporary.

Student Xingjian Hu said he was excited to have designs he has contributed to on display at the prestigious exhibition.

“I think simply copying traditional designs is not the best way to protect intangible cultural heritage,” Hu says.

“What’s important for designers like me is to capture the essence of the Suzhou fan rather than just the shape.

“If we combine modern design concepts and techniques with Suzhou fans or other traditional art work, we not only protect intangible cultural heritage but also communicate traditional Chinese culture to younger generations and international audiences.

“Chinese designers should try to move away from copying other cultures so we can better define Chinese ideas of beauty.”

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), a partnership between Xi'an Jiaotong University and the University of Liverpool, UK and located in Suzhou, is an international university that aims to produce creative thinkers and global citizens. All programmes are delivered in English.

Visit the XJTLU website for more information.

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