Unidentified Acts of Design is an exhibition and series of eight films made for the 2015 Shenzhen Urbanism\Architecture Biennale. The films explore different places in the Pearl River Delta where design is taking on new forms and meaning, with a focus on the people at the forefront of these changes.
‘Shanzhai’ was a term originally used in Shenzhen in the 2000s to refer to cheap and low-cost counterfeit products imitating big brands such as Apple, Motorola and Nokia, usually sold in the Huaqiangbei electronics market or on-line. ‘Shanzhai’ also refers to customised products responding to specific user requirements, such as phones for the elderly, long-lasting batteries, or mobiles with multiple sim cards and speakers. Several are specifically produced for export to Africa, India and SE Asia.
The ‘shanzhai’ open culture operates on fast prototyping and manufacturing processes that allow quick adaptations for changing market demands.
Following the 2008 crisis and increased competition, several companies are now focusing on design and manufacturing services for clients or on developing their own brand. Some are collaborating with makers for more innovative designs.
Find out more about Unidentified Acts of Design and the V&A's work in China by visting vam.ac.uk/shekou