Lifestyle changes lead to boom in design work

The Chinese design industry is set to boom as the republic’s market forces come into their own and consumers’ tastes and standards change, according to research by Euromonitor.

“The Chinese have a great tradition of aesthetics and these ideals are coming back after the Communist ideals of austerity and blandness. There is a wave of excitement of self-expression in interior design and packaging,” says Euromonitor research editor for China, Matthew Crabbe.

Research by the international market analyst Euromonitor concludes: “Growing numbers of urban middle-class Chinese are aspiring to Western lifestyles including packaged, pre-prepared foods and convenience shopping.”

Middle-class consumers are very keen to have better things, but are not necessarily hankering after foreign products, claims Crabbe.

The government is now aware of the importance of improving the quality of packaging for local products in order to compete with foreign imports and to work successfully in the export market, says Crabbe.

Government money is going towards upgrading packaging machinery, and “packaging has become one of the key sectors of industry”, he adds.

The look of goods is also changing to suit the new environments in which they are sold, as retail interiors are developed to appeal to the customers’ new aspirations.

New stores are sprouting up through joint ventures with foreign investors. Supermarkets, which are the fastest-growing retail sector, have mushroomed from none in 1991 to 1000 this year, according to Euromonitor, and by the year 2000 it expects this number to increase to 5000.

Overseas consultancies have been brought in to work on major retail interiors projects. FRCH in the US is currently designing a new section of the Oriental Shopping Plaza in Beijing.

“Local consultancies have been learning very quickly from overseas groups working in China about making places look attractive,” Crabbe comments.

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