5 good reasons to study design in China

L’École de design’s China Studio offers design students with two years’ study at Master’s level a totally immersive experience in China. A stepping stone to an international career.

1 – China: a life experience…

Since 2008, the school has offered student designers who join the China Studio the opportunity to experience a total immersion in China. Daily exposure to an environment that challenges all our cultural reference points.

“I feel like I’ve been here for ages,” explained Gaëlle, a 1st year student in China Studio, when interviewed recently by a journalist. “It’s a lifestyle which suits me just fine.”

Discover Shanghai in pictures

Shanghai by nightShanghai by night

2 - … and a great way to combat prejudices about China and its inhabitants

... As with any foreign culture, you have to be surprised, make discoveries, learn and keep things in proportion!

Diet: Nope, they don’t eat spring rolls in China! Neither is dog a popular dish on menus, and grilled insects are mostly offered to westerners to surprise them and get a reaction. The food is actually extremely varied and sophisticated. And another thing, if you’re invited to dinner, don’t try to finish all the dishes – your Chinese hosts will think that you’re still hungry.

The Chinese all wear anti-pollution masks: the few Chinese wearing a mask in the street are those who have recently had a cold and don’t wish to pass on their germs to others.

A different notion of time to ours. The notion of planning is relative: the approach to long-term and short-term is one of the real differences between Westerners and Asians. For example, an appointment over 2 weeks away is considered as long-term in China.

Intercultural culinary workshop for China Studio studentsIntercultural culinary workshop for China Studio students

Impossible to know what the Chinese are thinking: A “no” or “I didn’t understand” are usually implicit and you have to understand the hidden agenda behind a “yes”. "Perhaps” usually means “no”. A “yes” can also simply mean “yes, I understand/I hear you” without necessarily implying agreement or consent.

3 – A dedicated environment: L’École de design’s China Studio

L’École de design has been established in the People’s Republic of China since 2007, first of all in Qingdao (Shandong) and, since 2010, in Shanghai, to promote the quality of French design, to train young designers (both French and foreign) in the reality of the Chinese context and prepare them for an international career.

Eric Mazodier (Pedagogical Director) and Jia Quan (Administrative Manager) oversee twenty or so professionals who teach the 45 French and international students divided into two year groups. Guest speakers with eclectic and international backgrounds, who are active members of Shanghai’s vibrant design scene, come and teach students on the Cycle master Design et interculturalité program and participate in juries.

The 300m2 premises of the China Studio are housed in the Sheng Park building complex, in the heart of the Shanghai University’s Academy of Fine Arts. Near Shanghai’s city center, the China Studio is equipped with a common room, two classrooms and a model workshop, and has the use of campus facilities (cafeteria and shops).

Discover the China Studio in pictures

Final defense in the China StudioFinal defense in the China Studio

4 – A truly international experience, with a degree recognized in France and abroad

The MDes Transultural Design program teaches students how to decipher social uses and gain a better understanding of the Chinese market in order to propose relevant solutions tailored to the users, with an anthropological design approach. The internship experiences and the various working relationships that are part of the program also teach the young designers to work as part of an international team, bringing together a great variety of profiles and nationalities.

The Master’s courses are taught in English. For the practical projects carried out in partnership with local companies, the students form multi-disciplinary teams responsible for working on real orders for Asian clients. The program consists of four semesters organized on the basis of 30 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer System) per semester. In the 1st semester, which starts in September, the students do an orientation seminar before beginning their internship in a company or agency. In the 2nd semester, teaching staff and professional designers put together a busy calendar alternating lessons and projects. The 3rd semester is devoted to individual work on a dissertation and an individual design project on the theme of interculturality.

"Sleep On it" educational wall frieze by Thomas Rogel, class of 2016 China Studio 4 - A real experience"Sleep On it" educational wall frieze by Thomas Rogel, class of 2016 China Studio 4 - A real experience

The 4th semester is based on a workforce preparation internship, ideally carried out in Asia or at least in an international context.

The program follows the same teaching framework as L’École de design’s other Master’s programs and leads to the same qualification, the Design degree accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education. The program includes specialized seminars and workshops around the subject of interculturality: design and anthropology, Mandarin, cross-cultural projects with local partners. The final degree projects reflect all the questions and issues related to interculturality which the students have been immersed in for two years. Here are some examples:

Sleep on it : An educational mural located at one of Shanghai’s subway station exits, Sleep on it illustrates the negative effects linked to stress and the human body’s need for sleep. Thomas Rogel’s project, 2016 alumni.Apicalm : Eco-designed to encourage biodiversity, Apicalm, concludes a three-way contract between bees, alternative medicine and joint pain sufferers. Sophie Lefebvre’s project, 2015 alumni.Qing Che: synonymous with purity, Qing Che gives a luxurious distinction to the ancestral Chinese alcoholic beverage called baijiu. Inside the shop, customers can create their own customized baijiu by choosing the grain type and fermentation time, etc. Alizée Lambert’s project, 2014 alumni.

5 – A stepping stone towards an international career

The MDes Transcultural Design China Studio program is a real stepping stone towards an international career in design. Indeed, most of the students who complete this program start their career on the international scene. On graduation day, 80% of them have already found employment.

Some of them become entrepreneurs like Baptiste Maingon, 2015 alumni, who co-founded Miio Studio in Shenzhen with a Chinese partner.

For Kévin Condette, 2014 alumni, lead creative designer in Altyor group, “Shanghai is a launch pad.” The scale of these young graduates’ projects is out of all proportion to what they could do in France; and the organizations which employ them put their faith and trust in them. For Maxence Lucas, 2015 alumni, employed by Creative Capital “you progress really fast in China and you soon get given responsibilities.”

Are you interested in this experience? See the training fact sheet MDes Transcultural Design China Studio program or email us at (admissions@lecolededesign.com) to find out more! Inscriptions 2018 until 27 May 2018.

Baptiste Maingon co-founder of Miio Studio in Shenzhen with Mr. Pan, his Chinese partnerBaptiste Maingon co-founder of Miio Studio in Shenzhen with Mr. Pan, his Chinese partner
Published on 01.03.18


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