Q&A with Mike Dynan, Show Director for Design Shanghai - part of Media 10's stable of events

We chat to the MD of Media 10’s China office about his experience of Asian design and its African counterpart.

1. What is your role at Design Shanghai?
I travelled to China 9 years ago with Media 10’s CEO, Lee Newton. I headed up the event when we decided to launch Design Shanghai in 2012. Two years later we established our China office, where I am Managing Director and in charge of Design Shanghai.

2. Where do you live… and why there?
Home is an old brewery in a small village in Essex… cheaper and quieter than living in London! This helps me recoup from the madness of Shanghai, where I spend 8 days a month.

3. What might a typical day in your exhibition life entail?
There’s no such thing as a typical day. China moves at an incredible pace. You can start a meeting at 7am with top architects and designers, spend lunch with the people behind the world’s leading luxury brands, then more meetings followed by dinner with government departments and finally meeting up with some clients in a nightclub. Shanghai gives New York a run for its money as a city that never sleeps.

4. How does the Asian design offering differ from that of your experience in the UK and Europe?
The growth of the Asian design market has been phenomenal. When I first travelled here it was almost nonexistent. But now there’s wonderful design everywhere. Also there’s a real flavour of two cultures; China has embraced international culture, but design always has strong local influences here.

5. Who is your favourite Asian designer right now?
I work with too many great designers to pick just one. A few influential designers at Design Shanghai that spring to mind include Frank Chou, Jamy Yang, Song Tao and Mr. Hou.

6. What’s your favourite East-meets-West design item?
It’s not so much an item as it is a design brand. I’ve worked with and admired a company called Domus Tiandi. The designer and owner, Sammy Ren, is one of the most driven and forward-thinking people I’ve met. He’s the first person to design furniture in China and manufacture it in Italy. This unusual approach is quite inspiring.

7. How do you think African design influences what’s happening in design in the rest of the world?
I used to visit South Africa frequently but haven’t been for a few years; recent evidence shows the need to change that. South Africa seems to be the biggest ‘island’ in the world; it seems quite uniquely contained within itself more than anywhere else I know. I think there are fantastic opportunities for African, and more specifically South African, design to shine even brighter on the world stage.

8. What is your dream African destination?
I’ve travelled to Africa more than 30 times. It’s always been for work. It’s been a dream to go on a bush holiday but never quite got it together. I also love Cape Town and have promised myself to go shark-cage diving next time I am there.

9. How does the Asian exhibition world differ from others in the world?
It’s huge but still has more potential for growth than anywhere else in the world… exciting times for our kind of exhibitions.

10. Favourite hot-spot in Shanghai?
Shanghai offers some of the best bars, restaurants and shops in the world. There’s too much to choose from but a favourite is sitting on any of the roof terraces located on the Bund overlooking the Huangpu River. Sitting here you have amazing views of Shanghai’s old town, called Puxi, on one side and the new area of Pudong on the other… one of the most incredible man-made sights in the world.

11. Anything else you’d like to add about the relationship between African and Chinese design?
Africa and China should pursue building stronger relationships. There is so much potential. Many people in China are very interested in what’s going on in Africa. When Design Joburg was announced many of our Chinese clients were excited and keen to look for more opportunities.

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