Design Society will be a major attraction for Shekou for a long time to come, and a beacon for Shenzhen in its efforts to position itself as a Design City. At the same time, it will take a leadership role in positioning design as a key factor for societal, ecological and economic renewal in China, providing a powerful innovation agenda.
This agenda does not only translate into the program of Design Society, but also its operating model. The strategic aim of Design Society is to establish a niche of ‘cultural enterprise’ that sustains itself through varied sources of income and initiatives, combining cultural and commercial prowess to establish a sustainable complex and entity.
The Design Society Foundation will be the first of its kind in China to promote design communication and cultural exchange through both content production and platform building. The commercial arm will develop a financial dynamism that seeks to sustain its income and diversify the cultural experience with commercial activities. Such a positioning will serve as the best embodiment of an innovative spirit, as it is itself a flexible force that can be responsive and resourceful to emerging opportunities.
Design Society is uniquely positioned as a cultural enterprise that combines cultural and commercial prowess to establish a sustainable complex and entity. It does so by offering an innovative and inclusive cultural platform comprising Design Society Foundation and a commercial arm to ensure a sustainable operating model. As a not-for-profit institution, we think it is important to ensure Design Society is a cultural endeavor that will thrive in the long term with a self-sustainable performance.
Hence Design Society is dedicated to establishing a stable income portfolio, one that is diversified by a combination of cultural and business endeavors in the Sea World Culture and Arts Center (SWCAC) and beyond.
The Design Society Foundation will be the first of its kind in China to promote design communication and cultural exchange through both content production and platform building. The commercial arm at CMSK represents a financial dynamism that seeks to sustain its income and diversify the cultural experience with commercial activities.
With a future-oriented plan that envisions Design Society as a growing and changing institution, this business represents Design Society’s pragmatism and further exemplifies its position to connect to increasingly design-forward and culturally ambitious partners in commerce, business, industry and government, providing numerous possibilities for development and prosperity. To do so, we plan to develop a wide range of revenue channels, including donations, grants, sponsorships, membership fees, admission fees, venue hires, ad sales, unit leasing, parking, the Design Society store, partnerships, consultancy, training programs and commissioned research. From Day 1 we are open to good propositions that can strengthen our identity as an engine for new creative endeavors.
Developing expertise and professional training
Alongside research, network-building and audience development, the collaboration with the V&A has also included the provision of professional advice and training sessions which aimed at developing the highest professional standards in museum practice across Design Society.
This professional exchange began with consultation about the architecture of the building itself. Several V&A colleagues from across departments weighed in early on, on how best to equip the Sea World Culture and Arts Center so that it would meet the highest standards in institutional operations.
The expertise of around thirty colleagues from the V&A has also informed a comprehensive program of training in institutional operations and management.
Subjects covered ranged from exhibition development and management, learning and interpretation, loans procedures and conservation, to digital strategies, visitor experience, press and membership. Trainings were arranged through on-site sessions, remote learning, and shadowing opportunities.
Learning ‘through practice’ has also taken place while developing activities and programs. These components have been developed in collaboration with China Merchants Shekou and Design Society, trying to build a constructive dialogue and respond to specific needs as much as possible.