China-in-China – Design for the Tabletop

A project with Students from Folkwang and ZhaoQuing University at the IDI in China


Ein gemeinsames Projekt von Studierenden und Lehrenden der Folkwang Universität der Künste und der ZhaoQuing Universität am Industrial Design Institute (IDI) in ZhaoQing.

Das IDI ist eine gemeinsames Insititut der ZhaoQing University und
der Folkwang Universität der Künste


Guangdong, ZhaoQing, Duanzhou District,
ZhaoQing Boulevard, ZhaoQing University,
Industrial Design Institute, 526061



In the winter term 2019/20, Prof. Marion Digel (Industrial Design) of Folkwang University of the Arts launches a cross-cultural project on the topic of food- and eating-culture in collaboration with Lei Zhu (Design Theory) of our Industrial Design Institute IDI at Zhaoqing University in China.

It is the aim of the project to develop a common design language relating to Asian and Western table culture within the contemporary global society to enhance intercultural relations. For that purpose, 35 Chinese students and 5 German students explore each others cultures and design a series of dishes and utensils for cooking, serving and eating together.

The project is also an exploration into methods and practices of how we can achieve intercultural understanding and transform it into everyday objects. The project has a prototype character for hopefully more intercultural projects to come.

It is scheduled in three major parts: First at the beginning of the term, the students research into their respective food- and eating cultures and prepare a presentation for each other.
In the centre of the project there is a four-week intensive workshop program in China, including field-trips, lectures personal exchange, common experiences and practical collaboration in design.
The third part of the project takes place at the participants respective home Universities again and leaves time for the project refinement, presentation, documentation and reflection of the results.
The semester-end-presentation will take place in form of a Skype session.

Each week of the 4-week workshop the 5 German students will file a report in this journal.
Week 1 –
1. Chinese-German Welcome dinner cooked by the students
2. Lectures about Chinese and European cuisine, traditions and cultures in tableware
3. Field trip to a traditional Chinese ceramic manufacturer, a farming village that grows rice, bamboo and vegetables and a bamboo forest.
4. Synthesis - a lecture on what intercultural design means and finding out similarities, differences and basic needs for everyone