Pushing 30

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The earthquake. The aftermath. The orphans. I haven’t wanted to intrude on this blog for the last couple of weeks—jaded meditations on a media man’s life in glittering Hong Kong really have no place amid these accounts of suffering, devastation and death—but perhaps sufficient time (just) has passed for your man in the SAR to offer light relief to those that want it. I’m a Hong Konger, after all. What are we here for? We’re good at lightness and sparkle and at talking about things like … design.
One of our better designers, Javin Mo, has edited and published 3030: New Graphic Design in China, and I recommend it to anyone interested in Chinese creative expression. It’s a snapshot of the work of 30 mainland Chinese designers all around 30-years-old—that is, born at the start of China’s economic liberalization. And it chiefly reveals that the search for a Chinese identity in matters of typography and illustration has been sidelined in favor of freer, more experimental work that is still recognizably Chinese—but doesn’t belabor the fact.
The designers represented by the book are the first since the founding of the People’s Republic to enjoy the luxury of simply playing with form. Their early predecessors were mere mechanics—turning out the posters and billboards demanded by hardline socialism. Their immediate predecessors were preoccupied by the demands of export markets, which had no use for anything but the most utilitarian internationalist styles. But the generation of 3030 doesn’t need to sell anything—not socialism, not sports shoes, not even China itself. Their work brims over with the energy and confidence of a nation that has arrived. Do take a look.