The Chinese youth are quick to embrace products based on traditional and popular culture. However, this time around, some young students got a chance to design such products themselves.
In a campus design competition titled "The Heart of Beijing – Dream Interesting You," contestants were asked to make their own designs to promote Beijing's cultural heritage, such as the Temple of Heaven, Bell Tower and Drum Tower. Thousands of students submitted their designs.
The winner, Li Weiyu, is a post-graduate student from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology. "I designed a set of jewelry. In my work, I combined the elements of traditional culture with people's preferences in modern life, which I think most contestants are doing. What's special is that I didn't simply pile the elements up, but chose the symbolic parts, like the wings of a kite shaped like a Chinese swallow. I want to convey the vibe of the culture. I think they are so pretty to wear," she said.
Lu Xiaoyin, CEO of Perfect World Games, said the rationale behind hosting the competition was getting young people to realize that they have a responsibility to protect cultural heritage.
"Chinese traditional culture is rich and has a lasting imprint. But many young people don't feel connected to it. Thus, it is very important to create products that will appeal to younger people, making it approachable and easy to understand. This will create interest for them, and they will be inspired to carry the culture forward," said Lu.
Even when the competition has concluded, Guo Chunning, associate professor of School of Fine Arts at Renmin University of China, said protecting cultural heritage in modern times is a long-term mission.
"We have always been doing such work. We have been making designs based on cultural memory and images. We are also building up a digital system of colors and patterns of Chinese ancient items. 2020 is the first year for China to develop a system of big data on its culture, and this competition is a good start," said Guo.
The collision between traditional and popular culture is opening up thousands of years of Chinese history in novel and unique ways. And the work includes the creative perspectives of these young people, who are giving fresh meaning to the saying: "Everything old is new again."