The Chinese already manufacture a huge chunk of high end designer products, mainly due to cheap labor and their ability to deliver high quality merchandise. Just the Italians alone have given them an enormous amount of business since the rise of the Euro.
LONDON (AP) - "Made in China" appears on everything from iPods to refrigerators, but for the country's stunning economic growth to continue the next step is for shoes, laptops and mobile phones to start bearing the label "Designed in China."
An exhibition opening Saturday at London's Victoria and Albert museum appraises for the first time how close China is to making the jump from running the world's factory floor to taking control of the drawing boards.
Timed to coincide with the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, "China Design Now" reveals that although the country may not yet be ready to dominate the catwalks or consumer electronics shows, an exciting entrepreneurial design culture is stirring.
"I feel that we're on the cusp of that shift actually and what I hope is that a lot of people's expectations will be confounded," said Lauren Parker, the exhibition's co-curator.
The exhibit takes visitors on a journey starting in China's southern frontier in Shenzhen, which transformed from a group of fishing villages into the world's largest manufacturing center after being made China's first free trade zone 30 years ago.
The exhibit traces the birth of China's graphic design culture to the arrival of young designers who gave up secure state jobs to move to Shenzhen for access to the latest technology and ideas from neighboring Hong Kong, which was then in British hands.
Unlike their western counterparts, the Chinese designers had no advertising industry to provide training and jobs.
Examples show artists playing off of traditional calligraphy, altering Chinese characters to reveal deeper meanings, before moving on to modern urban designs for toys, sneakers and skateboards.