Heng Zhi

Heng Zhi grew up in Beijing and Inner Mongolia. She studied industrial Design at the University for Applied Arts Vienna and the Politecnico di Milano. Currently she is Curator of the Collection at Vitra Design Museum and a PhD candidate in history and theory of design at the University for Applied Arts Vienna. Previously Zhi worked as a scientific staff member in the faculty Design and Context, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and as an assistant professor in the department Manual and Material Culture, New Design University St. Pölten. Zhi curated and moderated numerous exhibitions and symposiums in China and Europe. Some of her recent exhibitions included “Radical Design!”, “Ettore Sottsass: Rebel and Poet”, and “Monobloc. A Chair for the World”.

Talk: Copy, Creativity and the Design Culture in China

Conference: The Low End Theory
Date: Day 2 – 13:30
Location: E-Werk Kesselsaal, Weimar
Language: German

This presentation draws on findings from an explorative survey on the emergence of design as a discipline of the growing creative industries in China. It compares the notions of creativity and intellectual property rooted in Western modernity with the local Chinese values embedded in a confucian and socialist tradition. Research on contemporary design culture in China and an analysis of Chinese traditional philosophy question the stability of the terms ‘creativity’ and ‘copy’ as seemingly solid definitions and ends.
Examples collected from the field provide insights into the “Shanzhai” phenomenon as well as the controversial statements about design and copy by the key players of the Chinese creative industries. A comparative study of the relevant historical and philosophical backgrounds project these cases onto the canvas of transition and change. Ultimately, the transitional space offered by the intertwined relationship between imitation and innovation challenges the conventional understanding of design creativity as an elitist, singular and mystified concept.

Under the patronage of

Deutsche UNESCO Kommission

Supported by


Organized by

Media and event partners