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The Restless Architect

RenoYang 2016-03-24 09:44

At the end of last year, “The Nordic Home” moving design gallery had its grand opening at The House at Shanghai Xintiandi. As the curator of the gallery, Bo Xi found himself in the limelight, but those familiar with the design industry know that it’s far from being his first time. Bo is the founder of WOWdsgn, an ultra chic online store selling the hippest of designer home wares. From obtaining a degree and establishing a career before resigning to start his own business, Bo was a typical restless man. He says: “The Internet has affected the traditional business in every way, this may be a historical moment, will you embrace it?” The answer will of course be yes.


Bo considers himself one of the lucky ones; he was among the first group of students in China to study Western architecture following the reestablishment of the gaokao after the Cultural Revolution. Since then, Chinese architects have started to investigate their own scientific system of architecture. After graduating from Nan Jing Southeast University in 1984, Bo travelled to Shanghai and established the UDG group in 1996. During the decades of his entrepreneurship, he has seen the likes of China VANKE, Greenland Holding, and the Wanda Group grow from small companies into the giant corporations they are today.

Bo recalls that it was from the state of European architects  that he gained a clearer insight into his own future, as well as the transition of traditional architectural industry from offline to online. Due to the small scale of the European architecture industry, opportunities for new construction projects were difficult to obtain. Renovations projects have to be combined with interior design or else fail in its purpose.


Bo predicts that Chinese architecture firms will be greatly affected by government policies to regulate the overheated housing market, so it is a necessity for this industry to adapt and diversify if it wishes to flourish. It is thus that he placed his bets on WOWdsgn. Bo thinks that, in contrary to many other net-pundits, the age of Weibo and WeChat will come to pass. Believing that these platforms will eventually lose their ability to attract new attention, Bo places his faith in websites and apps as the long term trend. He draws inspiration from the operational models of the Nordic design market, particularly Ikea and Danish audio brand Bang&Olufsen.

Generally speaking, Bo is very optimistic about the Chinese market. With increasing wealth, consumers have changed from buying purely for function to personal preference oriented purchases; the rise of the middle class will contribute a great amount of value for designer products. Relying on his own accumulated resources from the past 18 years, aligned with strong backup from four famous Nordic architecture companies, Bo’s WOWdsgn needn’t worry about quality. Instead, Bo can focus all his attention on bringing his market the interesting products they crave.


VANTAGE: Within the domestic design industry, “Nordic” in recent years has essentially become synonymous with good design. Where do you think its charm lies?

Bo Xi: Nordic design should be synonymous with good design. The core value of Nordic design directly points to human nature, and all design that leads to the most sensitive part of a person are considered to be good design. The northern European countries are some of the safest and most peaceful regions in the world. Their citizens tend to be driven more by interest rather than money; they pursue nature, originality, pay attention to people’s behavior and the basic needs of human nature, all of these are the original starting point of design that they create.


VANTAGE: There’re some comments saying you are the most successful person in the architecture industry on the Internet, are there any existences of O2O connections between the WOWdsgn and “The Nordic Home” ?
Bo Xi
: I have always tried to advocate the focus of the “grand design” into the daily lives of the Chinese people. Architects began to shift the design focus from macro level as to achieve national ambition towards paying more attention to people’s daily life and the quality of space. The planning of “The Nordic Home” project in Xintiandi will become the of ine experimental setting for a future WOWdsgn store, it will break through the traditional mindset of consumers’ feeling towards of ine furniture experimental stores.


VANTAGE: Besides Nordic design, what other country or region’s brands have you planned to cooperate with?
Bo Xi:
 We will consider to cooperating with Japanese brands, not only because Japanese culture is closer to Chinese culture, but more for the unique status that Japanese design has around the world. Its temperament is actually very similar to Nordic design; like the Mu- ji-led concept of simplicity- “Kanketsu”, or Kenya Hara’s “Re-Design” concept of redesigning old products in order to show respect to our Earth’s limited resources.

VANTAGE: What is your goal of the future development of the website?

Bo Xi: My goal is for every customer to be able to introduce to their guests the designer and story of each item they purchase from us. Also, I think every designer should be able to invite their fans to create products together.


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