Located in the North Bund CBD area of Shanghai, DIIS was founded in 2020 in cooperation with Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, and Shanghai Hongkou District Government.
With a global design ecosystem and advanced technological research, DIIS is driving industrial transformation through design innovation.
Former engineering school funded by UK tycoon reemerges as design institute
The Henry Lester Institute of Technical Education at 505 East Changzhi Road.
A file photo of the Henry Lester Institute of Technical Education at 505 East Changzhi Road.
An 88-year-old building, one of Shanghai's earliest technical schools finished its renovation, on Thursday, with the original decor largely preserved and historical look fully restored.
The Henry Lester Institute of Technical Education at 505 East Changzhi Road on the North Bund of Hongkou District will become the Design Innovation Institute Shanghai, attracting top talent in design.
Over 70 percent of the original decor and features of the building have been preserved, including over 1,000 wall tiles, along with the double-layer windows, steel doors and wooden strip floors, an official from the North Bund Development Group in charge of renovations told Shanghai Daily.
The facelift project was launched in December 2021 to restore the original look of the classrooms, dormitory, auditorium, library, museum, labs, canteen and headmaster's room.
The building, blending Gothic Revival and ArtDeco architecture, features a five-story central tower, four and three stories on both of the wing buildings, and resemble a sailing ship or jet when seen from an aerial view.
The preserved auditorium of the school.
An old photo of the original auditorium.
It was built in 1934 in accordance with the will of British tycoon Henry Lester (1840–1926), one of the richest merchants in Shanghai, commissioning a school for at least 300 Chinese and foreign students.
Before he died in 1926, Lester, who had no children, donated almost all his assets to build the Lester Chinese Hospital, the Henry Lester Institute of Medical Research and the institute, along with other philanthropic projects. His charity foundation is still supporting Chinese postgraduates in architecture in the United Kingdom.
Though the institute had operated for only a decade until the outbreak of World War II in 1945, it had cultivated multiple leading professionals, including Gu Maoxiang, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chen Zhanxiang, the former chief engineer of China's Ministry of Urban-Rural Construction, and famous translator Cao Ying.
One of the center's unique characteristics was that teachers used no textbooks, and encouraged students to take notes and gain more practical knowledge. It was one of the best engineering colleges in Shanghai then, on par with Jiao Tong and St. John's universities.
An engineer moves the original blackboard in the terrace classroom.
An old photo of a blackboard in an original classroom.
The institute was occupied by Japanese invaders in 1942. After the war, it was converted into a maritime technical school and later become the Shanghai Seaman Hospital mainly for domestic and foreign sailors until the recent decade. It was listed as a protected building by the city government in 1994.
"The building was relatively well-protected, so we've tried our best to keep the original features. Only the broken or missing parts were recreated with the same materials and techniques," said the official.
The steel gates of the building, which have patterns of compasses, balances and beakers, were replicated according to the original gates which are collected at the Shanghai History Museum.
A blackboard with two pulleys on the top dates back to 1930. Though the glass on the surface has cracked, the engineers kept the original staff as a "memory of its history," he said.
The headmaster of the school poses in his office.
The ceiling of a conference room and the walls of a former painting room are exposed without any paint to showcase the traditional techniques, which are rarely seen nowadays.
Many senior masons and carpenters were invited to refurbish the original doors and tiles.
"We only changed the bronze bolts and hinges, but retained the wooden parts of each door," said Wang Liang, a senior carpenter from central China's Hunan Province.
Even several old arbor trees have been kept in the garden in front of the building, along with the foundation stone laid by the China's Ministry of Education Dr Wang Shijie and former Consul General of Britain in Shanghai John Brenan.
Standing on the balcony of the former headmaster's room, visitors can see both the preserved exterior walls of the institute and landmarks of the North Bund waterfront, such as the towering Sinar Mas Plaza, the tallest building in Puxi.
The future design institute plans to conduct wide international exchanges and public education on design and innovation sectors. It's expected to become an innovation engine for Shanghai's sustainable development, according to the Hongkou government.
The building will become the Design Innovation Institute Shanghai.
Frontier Design Prize Announces Winners at World Design Cities Conference
Shanghai, September 15, 2022 | The Frontier Design Prize announced the winners of its inaugural edition during the opening ceremony of the World Design Cities Conference (WDCC). Mr. QU Xing, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. GONG Zheng, Mayor of Shanghai, Ms. XU Xiaolan, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology (China), along with leading designers, scholars and industry leaders, attended the award ceremony.
The Frontier Design Prize (FDP) is a visionary, innovative, world-class design award established with the aims of encouraging design innovation, enhancing the impact of design in driving industrial transformation, and promoting the role of design in shaping a better world. A central program of WDCC, it is undertaken by Design Innovation Institute Shanghai (DIIS) with guidance from the Shanghai Municipal Government.
Three prize categories are set up to reward and recognize outstanding personalities and works of design that have made a pioneering contribution to the design field with far-reaching international influence: Distinguished Contribution, Innovation of the Year, and Innovation of the Year (K-12). FDP is the first international design prize to recognize the work of K-12 students. In 2022, the Distinguished Contribution Prize and Innovation of the Year Prize have a monetary award of 1 million RMB respectively, and the Innovation of the Year (K-12) winners will share an award of 100,000 RMB.
This year’s winners are:
-Donald Arthur Norman
Citation: Prof. Don Norman is the leading advocate of human-centered design and a pioneer in user experience design. Combining design with social science and engineering, he has made pioneering contributions to the fields of cognitive science, human factors engineering and interaction design. His books, such as The Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design, became classics well read by most design students and professionals around the world. His latest book, Design for a Better World argues for a more powerful use of designers as champions of human behavior in this time of ecological crises.
Innovation of the Year
-Mi Ecosystem (by De Liu & Mi Ecosystem Team)
Citation: The Mi Ecosystem presents a truly systematic approach to design and manufacturing that empowers designers and design entrepreneurs through technical and supply chain support. To date, it has supported more than 330 design-driven startups, enabling an annual production value of close to 100 billion RMB, and has infused world-class design and the concept of smart living into the everyday lives of 63-million Chinese middle-class families.
Innovation of the Year (K-12)
-Modular Garbage Front-end Processor Combination (by Zekai Ren, Shanghai, China)
Citation: This project tackled the unpleasant and yet often neglected process of garbage collection and storage in residential communities with a bold and integrated proposal. The proposed distributed waste processor combines composting with other forms of biological treatment, localizing waste treatment to reduce pollution and noise from collection, and turning the waste station from an eyesore to a potential community center.
-Reducing Gender Based Violence in Sierra Leone (by 30 students at Rising Academy, Sierra Leone)
Citation: The boys and girls with an average age of 15 who took part in this design project had no previous exposure to design but demonstrated an ability to quickly adopt a designer mindset, to tap into their lived experience to gain insights, and to take on a very challenging social problem and propose innovative solutions with potential for wide adoption.
This year's evaluation committee, chaired by Prof. Rosanne Somerson, President Emerita of Rhode Island School of Design, includes 19 design leaders from international institutions including Royal College of Art, MIT, Parsons, Politecnico di Milano, Aalto University, Tongji University, Tsinghua University.
Prof. LOU Yongqi, Chair of the FDP committee, said, “Frontier Design Prize is a very unique international design award that recognizes individuals and works that had paradigm-shifting contributions to design in a large scale.” Prof. Don Norman, the winner of the Distinguished Contribution Prize, said: “I'm glad to see that Shanghai is now using design to shape higher quality sustainable development.”
The nomination-only award collected expert recommendations from around the world, and employed a unique evaluation process that supplements jury voting with AI analysis.
As reference for the jury, a proprietary AI-powered assessment system was developed by Tezign that utilizes knowledge graph and impact factors to evaluate the quantitative performance of the nominees in various dimensions.
Design Innovation Institute Shanghai (DIIS) is a non-profit advanced research institution dedicated to creating world-leading design innovation with real-world impact. Located in the North Bund CBD area of Shanghai, DIIS was founded in 2020 in cooperation with Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, and Shanghai Hongkou District Government. With a global design ecosystem and advanced technological research, DIIS is driving industrial transformation through design innovation.
Lester Project Scheduled for Completion in 2022
In early June, Shanghai entered the phase of regular epidemic prevention and control, while work and production resumed accordingly. A series of key projects in the North Bund area are scheduled to be completed within this year, including the Design Innovation Institute Shanghai project, involving the renovation and preservation of the main building of the former Henry Lester Institute of Technical Education. This project will drive industry development through design innovation and directly serve North Bund development. Details are shared through Shanghai official media platform Wen Hui Bao on June 25th, 2022.
New Fashion Without New Clothes? - Design Universe Master Talk Ep.2
In our second episode of Master Talks, Prof. Simon Collins hosted and led a panel discussion on New Fashion Without New Clothes. Invited panelists were Eric Liu, Elodie Rousselot, Dominique Simard, Winton Choi, Chen Zhi, and Mark Ainsworth, the leading figures in the interdisciplinary fashion and technology fields. Simon moderated the panel with well-directed questions focusing on sustainability, cutting-edge new technology like NFT, and diversity to create transformative innovation for the fashion industry. Prof. Collins kept the audience engaged throughout the 2-hour event by presenting an in-depth interpretation of the New Fashion Without New Clothes concept and innovation, bringing us a thought-provoking feast of ideas!
Design, What Now? — Design Universe Master Talk Ep.1 Successfully Held on May 14th
How might we use design to drive innovation, empower industry and create world-changing impact? These are questions that we explore at Design Universe. As part of the inaugural roadshow in 2021, Design Universe hosted 18 Master Talks, inviting distinguished guests from different fields to share insights on design innovation through speeches and dialogues.
Despite the pandemic, Design Universe resumed as planned this year with a live-streamed Master Talk on May 14th. This first episode set the theme on “Design, What Now”, featuring a celebrated roster including Zexiang Li, Yongqi Lou, Min Wang, Simon Collins, Srini Srinivasan and Aldo Cibic. The event presented a feast of ideas to a large audience of more than 9000 and successfully kicked off the event series.
Read more: Event recap
Design Universe WeChat Account Successfully Launched
Design Universe WeChat Account Successfully Launched After careful preparation, DIIS kicks off the Design Universe official WeChat account on May 5th, 2022, as a platform for and community of design innovation. We will document the wonderful moments from Design Universe inaugural event, announce this year’s following Design Universe event series, and share insights, ideas, and actions from the community. Please stay tuned.
DIIS Participates at WDCC Promotion Conference
DIIS actively participates in the preparation of the 1st World Design City Conference in Shanghai, provides suggestions for the government, participates in the formulation of a document “Guidance on building a World-Class Design City", and will award the 1st Frontier Design Prize at the conference, and jointly participate in the release of the Hillhouse Design Industry Fund (proposed).
To Launch Shanghai as a World Design City, on behalf of DIIS, Prof. Simon Collins gave a speech on Global Design Thinking in Shanghai. Using examples of Chinese and local innovation, Prof. Simon Collins presented examples of how Shanghai can use transformative industrial innovation to play a vital role in the Future of New Fashion.
With its theme of "Envision the Future Design of Inclusion", the WDCC 2022 is welcoming 40 design cities from more than 31 countries to develop a shared dialogue with world leading design professionals in a 4-day program of summits and online conferences. Shanghai as the hosting city, is engaging different communities to share our ability to collaborate and magnifies the impact of our work. WDCC 2022 is inviting all stakeholders to share their global design resources, aiming to create new dynamic of cross-sector and cross-border innovative design ecosystems.
Image source: WDCC
DIIS Becomes SHDW Strategic Co-creation Partner
As an important part of the 10-year strategic plan of Shanghai Design Week, 10 distinguished organizations in the design field are invited to become co-creation partners with SHDW, which was announced at the WDCC Promotion Conference in Feb, 2022. As a co-creation partner in Design Education, DIIS will carry out in-depth collaboration with SHDW with talent cultivation and thematic events that are integrated with the city and linked with the rest of the world,
Image source: SHDW
DIIS Speaks at GLV Conference
At a conference organized by GLV to share best practices on new retail brands going global, on behalf of DIIS, Prof. Simon Collins presented a speech on the concept of using design thinking to Go Global.
DIIS Becomes a WDO Member
DIIS became a registered member of the World Design Organization (WDO) in January 2022, opening the door to international cooperation. World Design Organization (WDO)® is a globally recognized non-governmental organization that aims to promote and advance the discipline of industrial design and its power to enhance economic, social, cultural and environmental quality of life. (www.wdo.org)
Image source: WDO
Jan 2022 DIIS Phase I Construction Begins
The future campus of DIIS will be centered around the former site of the Lester Institute of Technology. After months of design work and site preparation, construction begins in January to renovate the near-century-old Lester main building to restore historic characters as well as to accommodate future needs. A kickoff ceremony was held at the site, with substantial completion scheduled for the fall of 2022.
Image source: NBD
DIIS in News:
Shanghai Release | Led by the "three cultural places", renovating historical buildings, creating of a series of living rooms, and the enhancement of the soft power of the urban area - the future blueprint of Hongkou is depicted in this way.
Int’l Competition Announces Winning Scheme for New Building
After four months of design work and multiple rounds of review, the international design competition for the new building at former Lester Institute of Technology announces the final results. Shanghai-based renowed architectural design firm Atelier Deshaus was awarded the winning proposal.
Image source: NBD, Deshaus
Successful Design Universe Paves Way for Future DIIS Initiatives
As DIIS’ first public event since its establishment, the inaugural “Design Universe” 48-hour Roadshow was successfully held from Oct 22nd to 24th, 2021 at the historic Lester Building in North Bund, Shanghai. The 2-day event featured unique and impressive programs such as the Lester Lighting Show, Master Classes, Thematic Cluster (TC) workshops, project roadshow, and finale gala. It has been highly recognized by guests from academia and industry, and attracted enthusiastic feedback from all participants. With the launch of the “Design Universe” platform, DIIS has taken a decisive step towards creating an ecosystem of design innovation.
DIIS in News:
DIIS Collaborates with North Bund Group on Design Universe Workshop Design
As an integral event planning process and the future mode of university-city integration, DIIS works closely with North Bund, the leading organization for the development of the North Bund area, to formulate the thematic focuses for the four workshops of Design Universe. Based on real-world challenges and physical locations, entrepreneurial design ideas will be explored and developed during the Design Universe workshops.
DIIS Starts Collaborative Partnership with IDEO on Design Universe
World-renowned design consultancy and ambassador of Design Thinking, IDEO will join the DIIS community as an important collaborative partner. The IDEO team including Charles Hayes, Managing Director and Yao Chen, Senior Lead, will provide content planning, teaching support and process facilitation for the four workshops during the inaugural Design Universe.
Image source: IDEO
Design Universe Under Planning
Design Universe, a 2.5-day event, will be held at the future site of DIIS on Oct 18th -20th. The roadshow event intends to represent the ideology and framework of DIIS. Sixteen masters from different industries will give lectures while four workshops will tackle real-world challenges with a post-disciplinary approach central to the pedagogical setup of DIIS.
Int’l Design Competition for New Building on Lester Site Kicks Off
In July, Shanghai North Bund Group and Shanghai International Tendering Company announced the international design competition for a new building adjacent to the historic Lester Institute of Technology to house a world-leading design innovation institute. After a public application and pre-qualification process, four internationally renowned architectural design firms, including David Chipperfield Architects, JKMM, Henning Larsen and Deshaus, are shortlisted and enter the design period.
Image source: NBD
DIIS Moves into Office in Shanghai North Bund
The rapidly-growing DIIS team moves into its new office in Sinar Mas Plaza at the heart of North Bund area, Hongkou District, Shanghai, right next to the historical Lester Institute of Technology.
Image source: from internet. If violation of copyright, please contact us for removing it.
DIIS Officially Established in Shanghai
A non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, Design Innovation Institute Shanghai was announced in 2020 at the 10th Anniversary of Shanghai joining UNESCO Creative Cities Network as “City of Design” and established as advanced research institution dedicated to providing world-leading design education, research and innovation transformation.
Image source: SHEITC
Transformation means “the act or process of changing in composition, structure, character or condition,” while innovation is defined as “the introduction of something new.” (Ref: Merriam Webster Dictionary)
At DIIS, our focus would be on educational innovations on teaching and learning methodologies taking into account the students, their families, community and culture.
Design Universe is a multi-disciplinary, impact-driven platform to create and activate an ecosystem of design innovation.
At Design Universe, talent cultivation takes place in a teaching & research unit termed "Thematic Cluster“, with an emphasis on personalized, problem-oriented, interdisciplinary and well-rounded training.
Thematic Clusters aim to solve important challenges of this world through creativity without setting disciplinary, hierarchical, professional and cultural boundaries.
At Design Universe, participants will experience TCs by working with faculty to propose creative solutions to identified problems.
Established by the DIIS under the guidance of the Shanghai municipal government the Frontier Design Prize is a visionary, leading-edge, international design award.
The Frontier Design Prize was established with the aims of encouraging the development of design innovation, enhancing the impact of design in driving innovation and industrial transformation, and promote design’s role on shaping a better world across the society. These aims are met by rewarding and recognizing outstanding personalities and works of design that have made a paradigm-shift contribution to the design field with far-reaching international influence.
There are 3 distinct awards: Distinguished Contribution, Innovation of the Year, Innovation of the Year (K-12).
For further details on Frontier Design Prize, please go to: www.frontierdesignprize.com
Chief Academic Officer
Chief Academic Officer
Professor: Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) ,Tongji University
Former Dean: School of Design at CAFA
Min Wang is professor at Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. Min was Dean of School of Design at CAFA from 2003 to 2016, Chair Professor at School of Design of Hongkong PolyU in 2013. Min was council member of Creative Economy, World Economic Forum and he is member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) and was President of AGI China Chapter from 2013 to 2016.
Min was the Design Director for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Committee from 2006 to 2008. And the founding Director of Art Research Center for Olympic Games at CAFA, under his leadership, the Center had created the medal, the pictogram, the color system, the image and identity guidelines, etc. for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Min was Vice President of ICOGRADA (the International Council of Graphic Design Associations) from 2007 to 2009. He was the key person for organizing the ICOGRADA World Design Congress 2009 and the founding of Beijing Design Week, and advisory committee member of International Center for Creativity and Sustainable Development under the auspices of UNESCO (ICCSD).
Min was Design Manager, Art Director at Adobe for 8 years. Min received MFA from Yale University in 1988. In 1989, he began lecturing in graphic design at Yale University, teaching graduate students until 1997.
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Senator & Former President: World Design Organization
Visiting Professor: Politecnico di Milano
Adjunct Professor: Tongji University
Tongji University International Advisory Board
Srini Srinivasan is a highly accomplished designer & entrepreneur in creative design and technology development, with over 25 years of work experience in the Silicon Valley, United States, Europe and India.
Presently, Srini is one of the Senators of WDO (World Design Organization, formerly Icsid), after serving as its President until Feb 2022. He has been working with its global members to promote sustainability and design for a better world.
Srini is also the Founding President of WDO Foundation, a non-profit entity set up to work with Cities, Municipalities and local governments to execute projects that help create a better lifestyle for citizens.
Srini is the Chairman & CEO of LUMIUM DESIGN, Inc., a Silicon Valley based, world class, award-winning product Design Company that has developed 300+ products in the Consumer Electronics, Medical, Industrial Goods, Security and Surveillance domains. Lumium has design studios in San Jose (USA), Ahmedabad (India) and in Tokyo, Japan to execute creative design projects for global clients.
Srini is a visiting Professor of Industrial Design at Politecnico di Milano, Italy. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Industrial Design at Tongji College of Design & Innovation, Shanghai and also a member of its International Advisory Board. In his role as Advisory Board member, Srini helps and mentors educational institutes and technology start-ups to help them grow.
Srini has been a Keynote Speaker on several Design Conferences across the globe on Innovation & Design topics. He has been the Jury Chairman and Member of the Jury on several well-known Design Awards across the globe. Srini is an active member of IDSA, the professional body for Industrial Designers in the US. Srini attended UC Berkeley for his executive education in Product Management. Presently, Srini is pursuing his Ph.D. in Sustainable Development.
Srini lives in Shanghai and travels extensively around the globe. He is also an avid singer, golfer and an occasional pilot.
Chief Creative Officer
Chief Creative Officer
Former Dean: School of Fashion, Parsons
Visiting Professor: Tsinghua University
Former Creative Director: Nike
“I’ve seen the excellence of Chinese designers in every country and design team I’ve worked in. So I’m delighted to be able to help create a Chinese Design University that lives up to their endless potential.”
Creative advisor, keynote speaker, board member, distinguished professor and writer, Simon Collins is a former Dean at Parsons in New York and creative director at Nike in Asia. He has spoken at the Cannes Lions in France and the United Nations in NY, and he’s been featured in Forbes, Business of Fashion, AnOther Magazine, WWD, SCMP, China Daily and The New York Times.
After working with Nike, Polo and Zegna, he spent seven years as Dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons where he helped turn the quietly respected design school into a global mega-brand. Featured in The Business of Fashion’s Global 500 and Fast Company Magazine’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. Assouline published his book“The School of Fashion” in 2014 and he joined the Parsons Board of Governors. He then chaired the Advisory Board for Global trend group WGSN and advised WME IMG on reinveting NYFW. He joined the Advisory Council for NYU Stern Luxury EMBA and was appointed an Honorary Ambassador for the China Institute in New York, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University.
In 2016 he founded the Fashion Culture Design Unconference in New York and in 2017 he founded the global design education platform WeDesign.org
Simon Collins is dedicated to helping everyone create beautiful solutions. Based in Shanghai he is the Chief Creative at Design Innovation Institute Shanghai where he is focused on creating the world’s first Design University.
Whenever possible he travels the world sharing his adventures and passion. Here’s a speech he gave in August 2021 to launch Stockholm Fashion Week https://www.fashionfuturesthlm.com (Simon’s speech starts at 2min).
WeChat, Twitter, Instagram: @SimonCollins08
Chief Development officer
Chief Development officer
Executive Director, Hillhouse Investment
Secretary-General, Gaoling Foundation
Former GM of Public Affairs, LinkedIn China
Mr. Wang Yanping is currently Executive Director of Hillhouse Investment and secretary General of Gaoling Foundation. He is responsible for Hillhouse Philanthropy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Foundation Management, Donation Project Operation, International Public Policy, and supports Strategic Development, Education and Academic Cooperation. Before joining Hillhouse, Yanping worked for LinkedIn, the world's largest career social platform, as the General Manager of Public affairs, developing and executing overall China policy strategy, leading LinkedIn’s Economic Graph projects in China, and overseeing platform operational compliance team, content as well as customer service teams. Prior to joining Silicon Valley Internet, he worked for Chinese Internet and was vice President for Dangdang.com, Public affairs Director for Baidu.com, and Deputy Secretary General for Chamber of Commerce of Chinese Cultural Industry for the Private Sector. Prior to that, he worked in various positions in the Beijing Municipal Government.
Yanping holds a Bachelor's Degree in Diplomacy from China Foreign Affairs University; a Master Degree in Foreign Language and Applied Linguistics from University of International Business and Economics; a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Business School Nederland. For the public sector, he also served as Vice Chairman of the Sharing Economy Working Committee of the Internet Society of China; Executive Council Member of Center for China and Globalization(CCG); Council Member of China Society for Research on International Exchange and Talent Development；and Executive Council Member of China Association of Human Resource Development Intelligent Industry Branch. He has published 9 researches including: Digital Transformation of the China’s Economy; Top 15 City Talent Migration Insights; Innovative Cities and City Clusters in the Era of Digital Economy; University Alumni Insights. These researches were recognized and broadly reported by mainstream national media such as Xinhua News Agency, Global Times and China Daily and also received “China Technology Excellence Awards 2020” by HK Business Magazine. The core findings were cited by 1)”International Talent” – the only national research journal under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and 2) “Transition and Opportunity: Strategies from Business Leaders on Making the Most of China's Future” by Springer Nature.
Founding Member: Memphis
Honorary Professor Tongji University
Aldo Cibic was born in Schio, Vicenza, Italy in 1955, and quickly developed a self-directed interest in the world of design. In 1981, as a partner in Sottsass Associati, he was a founding member of Memphis, an artists’ collective that was to mark an epoch-making transition in the universe of design and architecture. By vocation and inclination an innovator, one who has never favoured generic labels nor stylistic excesses, Cibic adopted "experimentation as praxis”. In the late 1980s he founded the Studio Cibic and launched “Standard” (1991), his first self- produced collection. At the same time, he became a teacher at the Domus Academy and set up research activities with various schools, while developing his ideas around the "design of services". His projects, such as "The Solid Side" (1995) and "New Stories New Design" (2002), fostered a dynamic relationship between people and space and offered a new mode of designing places based on social interactions. He continued in this vein in subsequent years with "Microrealities" (2004) and "Rethinking Happiness" (2010). Both were presented at the Venice Architecture Biennale, and both originated contemporary narratives aimed at multiplying opportunities for meetings, exchanges and sharing in community life. In 2015 he curated the Venice Architecture Biennale of the Arts & Craft exhibition at the Venice pavilion.
In 1989 he founded the Cibic Workshop, not only a design studio, but a multidisciplinary research centre. Cibic Workshop strongly focuses on alternative sustainable project types aimed at enhancing local areas and defining new cultural, emotional and environmental awareness of public space. Aldo Cibic teaches at Politecnico Milano, the IUAV, Venice, and the Domus Academy; he is professor of practice at the Tongji University College of Design & Innovation in Shanghai.
In 2019 he has been selected as High-End Foreign Expert by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of China.
His design pieces and drawings are exhibited in the permanent collections of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Groninger Museum, the CCA (Canadian Center for Architecture) in Montreal, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Triennale Museum of Italian Design in Milan and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Aldo Cibic has been included by the architecture magazine Domus in the guide to the world's best architects “100+ best architecture firms 2019”. Inter alia, Domus editors Alessandro Mendini and Joseph Grima put forward a selection in favour of giving a voice to practices that show how “it may be possible for social architecture to really bloom in the future”.
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