This responsive site is only compatible with Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE 10 & above.

Design Society Curates: 2020 Curating Design Plan Design (Re-)union


International design and curatorial leaders on board as the jury

Open-call for design curators


[24 August 2020, Shenzhen] Initiated by Design Society and funded by Shenzhen Chuangxiang Public Welfare Foundation (referred to as "C Foundation"), the 2020 Curating Design Plan launches an open-call for curatorial proposals, with the submission deadline of 1 November, 2020. Its jury will select one Design Society Curator Award and three Design Society Research Fellows from the submissions. The winning proposal will be developed into an exhibition and presented in the Park View Gallery of the Sea World Culture and Arts Center for three months. The three Design Society Research Fellows will be awarded research grants.

Since its opening in 2017, as China's first comprehensive cultural platform with design as its theme, Design Society has continuously broken the barriers of the design industry. In doing so, we have been trying to expand the definition of design, to build the relevance of design development for society and culture, and to popularize design thinking and leadership.

The Curating Design Plan is a program dedicated to supporting creative talents. Jointly initiated by Design Society and C Foundation in 2020, this edition marks the projects inaugural event. Each year, we will hold an open call for proposals and set up a jury committee, who on behalf of Design Society will shortlist the most promising proposals, and support their further development through thematic workshops. The three most outstanding proposals will each be awarded with 30,000 RMB in research funding. In the last phase of selection, mentors from the jury will be assigned to guide the three selected proposals in refining their submissions, after which one final winning proposal will receive an extra 300,000 RMB and will be developed into an exhibition presented at the Park View Gallery in the Sea World Culture and Arts Center.

As an ever evolving discipline, the definition of design is in a constant flux. It has long since expanded from the creation of objects with aesthetic and functional value, to a tool and a way of thinking used to identify and to solve problems. Its nature is closely connected to reality, and it is gradually manifesting itself as an aspect of critical thinking in the process of solving and analyzing problems. Over the past three years, Design Society has actively investigated and contested the values of design through exhibitions and public programs, identifying three key aspects of value proposition today:

Responding to the urgencies of our time. Design carries a wider mission in society, responding to ever-expanding social issues and needs such as cultural and technological development, rural and urban diversification, and cultural and environmental sustainability. Design also has the potential to unfold the complexity of above social issues and help us understand the increasingly intricate times we live in. It is able to further expand this dialogue among the public through the medium of exhibition.

Generating new curatorial knowledge. In order to create a design, one must reference complex systems such as the labor, production and circulation that constitute our understanding of a design, both as concept and as product. Through interrogating and researching these stereotypical systems, design can help us reflect critically on our relationship with objects, presenting a new perspective and generating new knowledge and ideas.

Positioning design in cultural, historical, and artistic momentum, while contextualizing it in a broader discussion. As a form of creative practice, our understanding towards design should go beyond design as a commodity. Instead, we should experience it as an integrated part of an interconnected web of culture.

2020 Curating Design Plan: Design (Re-)union

With the theme of Design (Re-)union, The Curating Design Plan aims to support designers and curators in seeing the values of design beyond the surface; to speak through the medium of exhibition to share their keen insight, imagination, methods and actions; to rebuild connections and lead the public to grasp new solutions; and to open new critical dialogues.

The submission needs to reflect at least one of following qualities:

  1. The relationship between humans and materials in a new post-pandemic social condition;
  2. An understanding of the cultural context and design development of Shenzhen and the Grater Bay;
  3. Challenge the existing authoritative interpretation of culture and design;
  4. Have keen insight into the development of urban and rural areas;
  5. Critical reflection on exhibitions as a form of cultural expression and putting forward new ideas;
  6. Rethinking the global mode of material, energy and resource circulation.

Rewards and Support

  • Design Society Research Fellow

Design Society will select three Design Society Research Fellows, and will support each selected curator or curatorial team with 30,000 RMB (tax included) for their further research.

  • Design Society Curator Award

One winning proposal will be selected by the jury and be awarded with 300,000 RMB (tax included), which will be used to develop the curatorial proposal into an exhibition with assistance from Design Society. The outcome will be presented in the Park View Gallery, on the first floor of the Sea World Culture and Arts Center. The exhibition period will be from April to June 2021 (including the installation and dismantling process).

Submission Requirements

  • Any individual, curatorial team, or company can submit a proposal.
  • There are no limitations to candidates’ age, nationality, gender or ethnicity, and no restrictions on job occupation and educational background.
  • The proposal needs to be practical and feasible within a reasonable budget.
  • The exhibition and exhibits need to be able to be displayed in good condition for the full duration of the three-month exhibition period.


What to submit

  • Curator or Curatorial Team Introduction: Including, but not limited to, the contact information of the curator or curatorial team, habitual residence, self-introduction, curating experience, etc.
  • Curatorial Proposal:
  1. A brief description of the curatorial concept (within 1,000 words);
  2. Images and descriptions of exhibits (each within 100 words);
  3. Exhibition design concept;
  4. Artist list and introduction of each artist (each introduction within 200 words);
  5. Public education and events proposal (academic forum/workshop, etc.);
  6. Detailed budget (please refer to the exhibition budget template).
  • Download the Park View Gallery floor plan and the budget template

How to submit

Please submit the materials (Curator or Curatorial Team Introduction and Curatorial Proposal) with the subject name: Name+2020 Curating Design Plan to


The Jury (in no particular order)

Convenor of the Jury: Zhao Rong, Deputy Director of Design Society

Secretary of the Jury: Siyun Tang, Curator of Design Society

Jury members:

Ole Bouman, Founding Director of Design Society

Bryony Shepherd, Head of Interpretation, Victoria and Albert Museum

Hang Jian, Professor and the Director of Museums at the China Academy of Art

Hou Hanru, Artistic Director of MAXXI (National Museum for 21st Century Art and National Museum of Architecture), Rome, Italy

Joseph Grima, Creative Director of Design Academy Eindhoven and Chief Curator of Design at Triennale di Milano

Song Xiewei, Professor and PhD Academic Supervisor of School of Design at Central Academy of Fine Arts

Tong Lan, Board Member of C Foundation, Founder of Lantao Design Academy

Marisa Yiu, Co-founder and Executive Director of Design Trust


Evaluation Mechanism:

The review is mainly based on the materials submitted by the applicants, and is divided into three rounds: shortlist, semi-final evaluation and final evaluation.

  • Shortlist: Design Society will select a shortlist of effective proposals according to the Submission Requirements.
  • Semi-final Evaluation: The shortlisted applicants will present their proposals to the jury, who will host a series of curatorial workshops to give candidates feedback and support in finalizing their proposals. The jury will then select the three most promising persons/teams and grant them a Design Society Fellow award.
  • Final Evaluation: The three selected curators or curatorial teams will continue to deepen their proposals according to feedback from the jury and submit their final curatorial proposals including exhibition maintenance instructions within 10 working days. Finally, The jury will select one proposal which will be executed and developed into an exhibition.


– End –


Notes to Editors:

Initiator & Organizer: China Merchants Shekou (CMSK) | The Sea World Culture and Arts Center

Presented by: Design Society

Co-organizer: C Foundation

Supported by: Zhaoshang Sub-district Office of Shenzhen Nanshan District

Partners: School of Design, Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA); Institute of Contemporary Art and Social Thought, School of Inter-Media Art, China Academy of Art; Art Museum of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts


Press Image Link:

Please do not crop the picture and do use the complete credits.



Any individual/team/company (hereinafter referred to as "contributor") who has contributed to the project shall be deemed to have made the following irrevocable declaration:

1. Statement of Originality

The submitted proposal is original and has not been publicly displayed or entered into a public platform in any form. Contributors guarantee that the submitted proposal and all contents, texts, works, pictures and other information involved does not infringe the rights and interests of any other person or legitimate, including but not limited to the copyright, patent right and trademark right, and does not involve plagiarism, copying and other infringements.

2. Legal Declaration

The contributor shall ensure that all of the submitted proposal’s content is in compliance with relevant laws and regulations, shall not endanger national sovereignty and security, shall not damage the interests of the state, shall not contain any violation of national religious policy and core socialist values, shall not contradict traditional culture and customs, shall not preach religion or feudal superstition, shall not endanger social and public interests, violate public order, good customs and social morals.

3. Attribution of Participating Projects’ Intellectual Property Rights

The copyright of the submitted proposal belongs to the contributor. The contributor shall authorize Design Society to use all or part of the contributor’s proposal without cost, for project publicity and promotion, and issue a document of authorization. After the winning submission has been selected and officially confirmed, Design Society and the contributor of the winning submission shall negotiate the refinement, implementation, copyright transfer or use of the submitted proposal, and sign a written agreement. The contributor guarantees that Design Society’s use of the proposal and all its contents within the scope mentioned above, will not infringe the intellectual property rights or other legitimate rights and interests of third parties.

4. Responsibility

If any contributor violates the above statement, they shall bear the relevant legal liability arising from the infringement dispute, return all the bonus received, and the solicitors shall cancel their candidacy/finalist/award qualification, and reserve the right to pursue legal action against them and ask compensation for any losses incurred.

Read More

The website is currently a beta version.

Continue browsing

Please view vertical.