Lao Jianhua

Lao Jianhua is a product designer currently living and working in Shanghai, China. After working for several major Chinese design companies, Lao opened his own design studio, J Y DESIGN Shanghai, in 2008. He was the V&A's first international Museum Resident and was at the Museum between November 2008 and April 2009, helping the Museum to celebrate the 2008 Year of China.

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Ya stool and stool bookshelf and screen

When I first saw these shelves at the British Gallery (level 4), I liked it very much. It has the same sort of feeling that I think Chinese characters have. It’s like a piece of architecture. It also reminded me of the Chinese logo for my studio. From this object I got an idea for making a new kind of storage.

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Design Your Life workshop

My Design Your Life workshop was the first one that I’ve run at the V&A. The DYL programme had three workshops, all attended by same group of kids. My workshop was about making your own lamps. We used craft foam to design and build a lampshade.I have designed a lot of products for kids before but this was the first time that I actually worked together with them. They are so creative and honest. I like their innovative thinking and representational ideas. I learned a lot from them. The dragon lamp, designed by one of the girls, is one of …

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Fu lantern

Chinese people hang red lanterns in Chinese New Year to celebrate the Spring Festival. When these big red lanterns are hanging up, we feel particularly pleased. It helps to make the atmosphere more festive and creates lots of good luck for the New Year.We normally use the same design and it’s beautiful but I wanted to try to design a new version of the Fu lantern to make this Chinese New Year in London more special.

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Chopsticks

Chopsticks have existed for thousands of years. They have a distinguished design, simple and elegant. However, they are difficult to use at first, even for Chinese people. We need to learn from an early age how to use chopsticks. As the two chopsticks are detached, they would sometimes fall from the table. So I thought why not connect the two chopsticks together? It will stay on the table and it will be easy to use as well, without the need to learn. It will also be easier to clean just one piece. They would also be similar to the tongs …

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Calligraphy jewellery

I designed this calligraphy jewellery almost by chance. Whenever I cut plastic using a heated saw, I get some waste pieces. Because the saw is hot, these waste pieces melt together and become connected, forming curves that look like calligraphy. I like these type of curves very much and each one is different. I think they look a bit like Islamic calligraphy.I used this idea to make some jewellery. I bought a calligraphy book to study. I think that calligraphies are beautiful, like the characters in Chinese calligraphy, with its architectural beauty.

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Fortune Boat Workshop

Last Friday evening we also had a workshop where we folded fortune boats with New Year’s wishes inside. Around 400 visitors came that night so our staff was quite busy. But it was very nice to see that visitors would help others once they learnt how to fold their boat. Thanks to all the visitors that came in that night and to all the staff. I wish good luck to everyone in the Year of the Ox!

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Crafted in Food Workshop

Last Friday evening we had a workshop about using food to design. When I was young in China, my parents used flour to make toys on New Year as gifts for kids. We were poor at that time but we were happy to receive those special gifts. It’s amazing how people’s creativity is not restricted by money or adverse circumstances. Now we have money to buy gifts but we’ve missed something important.

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China in London – The Year of the Ox

I noticed today that there are lots of posters about China in London 2009 up in the tube stations. It’s so exciting. The poster design is very traditional and beautiful – I like it very much.

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Canterbury Cathedral

I travelled to Canterbury with some of my Chinese friends from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design during the New Year holiday. Canterbury is a small town but very lovely. I like the town very much, especially Canterbury Cathedral. The design of ceiling architecture is fantastic. It’s a masterpiece.

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Design in the Street

Ialways believe everybody is a designer. People are very creative. I enjoy looking at the design around us. You can see the picture I took on the street. I think it’s a good design. They use the plastic cases for storage when they carry the flowers to the location and then they use those cases turned down as display bases. They use some simple steel board as a display top. This design saves space and is very useful.

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