Visual Inspo: Chinese Design Blogs
The thought of navigating Chinese-only websites might be daunting for non-Chinese speakers, but those of us working creativity-related jobs in China can't just ignore what's going on in the Chinese design sphere of the world wide web.
Here are some popular sites and blogs that specialize in covering product and graphic design*, plus a couple of platforms for Chinese illustrators, that even those who can't read Chinese can appreciate for the visuals alone.
Hint: those with a VPN should definitely make good use of Google's auto translation — just open up the sites with Chrome and a pop-up will appear asking if you want the page translated.
ICECREAM Website →
Ice Cream covers a wide range of design disciplines, from industrial design and interior design to graphic design and furniture. Run by designer Fisher Yu, a graduate in industrial design from the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, the site is updated daily and covers both the domestic Chinese and international design scenes. Many of the featured designs lean towards talent from abroad, but given Ice Cream's popularity, it's certainly worth checking out to see what kind of design appeals to Chinese.
malt Website →
This minimalistic site makes for nice and easy navigation, and covers graphics, fashion, interior and architectural design. It's run by Guangdong-based designers and friends, who introduce malt as "an online platform for sharing imagination, aesthetics and creativity, [and] is the crystallization of our years’ observations, researches and sharing across various areas". To see more Asia-specific content, filter the posts by the site's "城市" [city] tag here, which sees city-specific content from Mainland China, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
JUE.SO Website →
For those who want to see China-only creations, then JUE.SO is an excellent resource for that. Billing itself as "China's largest online crowdfunding platform for creatives", the site is not too far from a Behance-like portfolio sharing site, though the aim for this one is specifically for its users to share their works with the aim of promoting their creative services for hire.
The site's works span all the usual design disciplines, through appears particularly strong in home and lifestyle product design, illustrations, and graphic design. The only drawback is that JUE.SO currently doesn't have an effective way of filtering categories of work, so it takes a lot of browsing to single out the exact content you're looking for. Other than that, it's definitely up there in terms of being a one-stop resource to see what today's designers and illustrators in China are producing.
1984 Website →
1984's emphasis is on product and industrial design and includes a good combination of cute-sy lifestyle items and tech gear for phones and auto. The layout isn't the most sophisticated or user-friendly, but if you're patient enough to click through pages and pages of posts (only 6 per page), then you'll find some gems there — many of the features are on Chinese or other East Asian designers and their works. It's a longstanding resource within the Chinese design community — launched in 2006, 1984 has been going at it for the better part of a decade, which marks industry OG status in this country.
1 Dian Dian Website →
1 Dian Dian, said aloud in Chinese as "yi dian dian", or "a little bit", does indeed cover a bit of everything in the creative arena. At the top of the page are tabs that you can filter for specific content: General Design, Design Gifts, Furniture Design, Creative Image Gallery, Inspiration Board, Illustrations, Photography, and 'Best of Design'. For us, the best and most rewarding section of the site is its Furniture Design page, which places a heavy emphasis on featuring the works of Chinese or other East Asian designers. The page is usually updated with new posts several times a day, and often gives details on where the product(s) can be purchased, too.
IdeaCool Website →
Speaking of Behance — a quick click through IdeaCool should give anyone who knows the portfolio-sharing site a sense of familiarity. The format of the image albums on IdeaCool are certainly similar, but the content within is distinctive for its China-oriented focus. Here, you'll find solid inspiration, particularly from the works of Chinese product and furniture designers, which give great insight into the favored aesthetic of the Chinese design crowd and its discerning clients and consumers. While its database isn't quite as extensive as that of JUE.SO, at least IdeaCool has tags so that you can narrow down on your preferred field of design. To us, the best it has to offer can be found on its Lighting Design page, as well as its Wearables & Tech Design page.
id-art Website →
id-art is a not-for-profit site that gathers and posts anything that could be of interest to today's art & culture, design-loving hipster type. While its posts feature both international and Chinese talent, it's another one of those platforms that gives a great general insight into what's trending among the design-discerning in China. Plus, it's one of the few sites of similar content that has infinite scroll on its homepage, which makes for a more pleasant browsing experience — especially if you just want to look at the visuals.
Chuang Yi Ren Website →
And lastly, Chuang Yi Ren — English translation: "creative person" — is a gallery/portfolio-type site that is ideal for the non-Chinese speaker who loves original illustration and graphic design. The site's landing page is virtually only images, and since all the work is uploaded by illustrators and designers themselves, the overwhelming majority of the content you'll find on this site comes from within Mainland China's own domestic talent. Users can also rate the works, and that average rating number (out of 10) shows up next to the title of the project so you can get an idea of its favorability among peers.
*Of course, there are many, many more similar sites in the blogosphere, but our picks were focused on well-known sites that either focus on domestic designers and illustrators, or has a healthy mix of both Chinese and foreign design talent.