China has had the reputation of being a country that copies, especially in design and technology.  It’s natural for people and organizations to copy what they want to become. Over time, the copying shifts to developing ideas of their own as they start to understand what it takes to produce original work.  This shift from follower to leader, from copier to designer, is happening in China now.  Amy Freerson describes this in her recent dezeen article entitled “China is “slowly but steadily emerging” as a design powerhouse, says Richard Hutten.”

China is set to become a major international player for design and technology in the next 10 years, according to Dutch designer Richard Hutten, who has just become art director for Chinese furniture giant Zuoyou.

Hutten claims China’s design industry is moving away from a culture of copying, because customers are increasingly demanding high-quality, original design.

“We all know copying is big in China,” he told Dezeen. “But slowly they are starting to understand that it is not a sustainable way to run a business.”

Hutten also described the larger patterns at work:

He believes the country will follow in the footsteps of Japan and South Korea, developing a design industry to rival those in Europe.

“In the 1960s and 70s, Japan started to produces copies, to enter the European market. Slowly that changed from copying, to improving, to original design,” he added.

“This took them 30 years, and now they are at the same level as Europe. The same thing happened in South Korea, where it took 20 years, and now it has started in China. I’m sure they will only need 10 years.”

The important shift to understand is that the Chinese appear to be no longer looking abroad for inspiration for new ideas, products, and services.  They are looking internally, or locally, and this has had the effect of creating their own momentum.  When driven from within, their economy and demand for design and tech will power itself.

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