Two Finnish designers, Tapio Anttila and Jonas Hakaniemi, are bringing Scandinavian lifestyle to young people in China by injecting original Nordic elements into modern Chinese furniture.
Showing pictures of coffee tables, hangers and dining chairs made of metal frames and wooden plates, simple but elegant in style, Hakaniemi said they are helping ZaoZuo, an emerging brand from Beijing, to produce an authentic Scandinavian collection.
The products were launched last autumn, and Anttila said ZaoZuo may be one of the first Chinese consumer furniture brands that work with Scandinavian designers.
The pair have been surfing in the Chinese market for three years, with the southern city of Shenzhen as their main base. They have ten clients in China, among them ZaoZuo and Vandu, another high-end furniture brand from Guangdong province.
They told their stories together with a number of other Finnish designers at a Shenzhen design seminar held in Helsinki on Monday.
China's Shenzhen has been strong in both high-tech industries and design service. In 2018, the added value of Shenzhen's culture and creative industries reached 262 billion yuan (37.8 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 10 percent of city's gross domestic product (GDP). Shenzhen's investment in research and development has exceeded 100 billion yuan (14.4 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 4.13 percent of its GDP, according to Han Wangxi, director of the Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Office.
Anttila said he saw an increasing interest especially among young consumers in paying for original Nordic designs. "There has been a growing market for this," he said.
"Our goal is to work with big Chinese brands, looking for long-term cooperation," Hakaniemi said,
Both Anttila and Hakaniemi have their own offices in Finland, and what drives them to explore the Chinese market is its size.
"Why in China? Because we always look to the future. And the numbers in the Chinese market are huge compared to Europe. It is amazing," Anttila said.
Hakaniemi told that he is quite often asked to design a chair by a Finnish customer, but when the assignment comes from China, it usually means the whole set of furniture. Hakaniemi said he has spent most of his time contributing to his business in China.