concept m has been exploring lifestyle and consumption developments in China for years. We turn particular attention to Gen Y, the Generation of Opportunities, because they will have considerable and sustainable influence on consumption trends for the years to come. The new individualism is this generation’s leitmotif. Unlike their parents, with a parvenu background, their credo is to not simply copy pre-defined categories of luxury and to no longer blindly follow well-established brands as style ideals.
Shanghai Design Expo 2018 has shown in an impressive way what a big impact individualised design has on self-confidence. Visitors are very young, mainly 20- or 30-somethings, excitedly and constantly taking pictures and eagerly absorbing all trends. Nevertheless, Design Shanghai, which takes place in the city’s historic Art Deco exhibition halls, does not focus on the masses and popular furniture designers like Lignet Rosset or BB Italia, which of course have their stands. The real attraction however are the hundreds of very individual, mainly European niche providers, named misura emme or Andrew Martin Home. The designers and their ultra-individual apartment ideas invite visitors to discover something unique. Or, like one visitor to the fair puts it: “If I buy an armchair by lalique, no one else has it. Only I know French designer Jean Budoit and his sense for translucent materials.”
Design Shanghai is also an important benchmark for the design furniture industry because the Chinese market will soon account for 50% of sales. The young arty-individualist visitors’ enthusiasm for authentic-innovative and expressive design is palpable at the exhibition. In Europe and the US, furniture design is more of a niche market, reserved for a smaller and older target group of connoisseurs – while the rest is waiting for the copies at IKEA.