SHANGHAI The plane landed the gentle bump after a flight of almost 10 hours from Helsinki to Shanghai. It was 10 December 2013, the date of the ‘Sino-Swedish Wood Day’, one of two conferences organised by Swedish Wood in 2013 to open up the increasingly important Chinese market across a broad front. Once out of the terminal, the air was practically clear, which was a surprise, since just a few days earlier large parts of eastern China had been blanketed in one of the worst and most extensive incidents of smog ever. This was described by many in quite apocalyptic terms, providing an emphatic and shocking reminder of the serious climate issues that China has to tackle. It therefore felt particularly timely that the conference, which focused primarily on design, also conveyed the message of the positive climate effects brought by increased use of wood.
Despite the negative aspects of the impressive transformation and rapid development now taking place in Chinese society, these changes are producing unparalleled creativity and diversity. The interesting but unholy alliance of planned state capitalism and an almost extreme entrepreneurial market economy is driving growth at an incredible pace. Competition is fierce, and so cost-efficiency and product development, which also includes design, go hand-in-hand even for smaller companies. In addition, awareness of the growing need for sustainability is increasingly making its mark.
Research and development issues are given high priority in China. They are working systematically to build networks and attract expertise from other countries. The Wood Center that Swedish Wood established together with Jia Tong University in Shanghai is a prime example of this. Jia Tong University is looking for ideas and working methods that improve creativity and speed up a more innovative way of approaching development.
In this issue of Trä! we’ll be finding out about the future innovations that are concentrating researchers’ minds. One interesting line of enquiry is ‘cultivating’ products and architecture.