Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Design Adventures in China : Photo Journal of My Working Holiday

Designing for an English speaking client is tricky enough - what is their vision? what goals do they have? how are they expecting the end result to enrich their life? Now add to that, that none of the suppliers, contractors or users speak English !! The cultural difference is another story....luckily for me, it was the "American" design culture they were looking to emulate and capitalize on. These were some of the challenges I faced while on contract to design a trade show booth, company branding and of for furniture manufacturer EDIMASS in Guangzhou, China from 2005-07.

Below is a photo journal of my experience, enjoy !

Land in Hong Kong and marvel at the architecture :

and the commerce, the Hong Kong port stretched for miles as we whizzed past :

Enter into "The Mainland" and fear for my life !! :

many, many modes of transportation and means of survival :

And some shocking roadside poverty :

A nice spot of tea with Horace, EDIMASS factory owner, before starting our 12 hour day :

EDIMASS' beautiful factory including inner courtyard [turns into basketball court after hours] :

One of a hundred or so modern factory showrooms we went to. Such a contrast of old and new !:

Here we are at a lumber yard - notice the background of the sign indicating the product they sell :

Lunch time with Lorna [factory co-owner and  my personal translator / assistant]  and Horace
- notice the Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe reproductions that they produce :

Working on new designs. Prototypes would literally appear overnight, as opposed to 2-3 weeks later when working with North American furniture makers. The Chinese work very fast therefore a lot was accomplished in 2-3 weeks :

Working on some branding for my designs; a super cool technique used to etch logos onto knives. This solution was suggested by Nicola working for Driade [Italian furniture company] :

And marketing materials for EDIMASS including the logo; chosing a Pantone color was tricky as they had no idea what I was talking about.... :

Finally, a day off with a friend [a concierge at my hotel who spoke some English] to see some gorgeous parks :
Michael Yu


White Cloud Park, Guangzhou, China

Building the EDIMASS tradeshow booth I designed, for the CIFF in Guangzhou, China :

Show time ! Outside of the super modern trade show complex :

and inside :

Coffee break at the show - typically hilarious translations of American marketing mumbo jumbo :

More of my furniture designs at the show :

Speaker Wire Weave - Detail

 Having a quality control meeting with the factory workers in the tradeshow booth !! :

And now the night life when the real business happens !  :

Eugene, Ian, Lina, our driver

Karaoke Chinese style after dinner - this club probably holds 1,000+ people :

... these photos don't portray how extremely hot and extremely crowded it was....

A fond farewell to my Mainland friends, and back to Hong Kong and it's amazing lights, fashion and interior design. Here I had dinner with my great friend Phillip Van Leeuwen whom I am forever thankful to for encouraging me to go. :

I am also eternally thankful for my loving, caring husband Richard, who encouraged me to go and supported me every step of the way, never complaining once....even after missing 2 wedding anniversaries.
Will I ever go back? You bet ! It has been an amazing experience I never thought I would ever have.....


  1. that is one COOL lounge chair - kudos! nice!!

  2. Being that you have had the opportunity to work closely with EDIMASS as well as visit there factories - can you shed a bit of light on the social responsibility and working conditions? I like to support companies that aim to support their workers in a fair manner.


    1. So sorry for the late reply - I just noticed your question. EDIMASS treats it's employees very well from what I observed. I would not partner with them if they did not. Of course there are factories that do not treat their staff with respect and dignity, but one can say the same about working conditions of many people all over the world including Canada.

  3. Okay. Wow. I was thinking of studying architecture and this building makes me want to be an architect though I’ve decided on taking Psychology. Maybe I need to rethink my choice.


Thank you so much for taking time to read my interior design blog ! Much appreciated, Yvonne