Saturday, January 30, 2010

Considerations for a new market in China: Seniors

Our group has the privilege to work with Herman Miller, the notable "high-end" American brand that provides furnishing and interior design for office, homes, hotels, hospitals. I know it as a contractor of Charles and Ray Eames work in the 1940s and '50s. Now, Herman Miller is examining how it can assist the aging population to "Age in Place."

Recognizing that human nature becomes "chair centered" as it ages, Herman Miller is looking to not only bring chairs to China but environments for nursing homes, assisted living communities and private homes.

On pleasing aspect of HM is that they build their furniture in the country of its market. This new market will potentially bring employment opportunities.

Ruosi from Peking University voiced concern about the word "high-end" used in the Herman Miller design brief. I echoed that with a question that proposed a scenario wherein the market would only bear a certain price that might not be what HM is accustomed to but offered a foot into the market. The response was to show how distribution could work.

In closing for now, I foresee a large cultural hurdle being that the aging Chinese have come through the Cultural Revolution. Will they be looking for traditional comfort or something new?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Visiting collaborators from Beijing

Visiting collaborators from Peking University and Central Academy of Fine Art arrived today to begin a five month design project to benefit China's health care system. The d. school's Cross Cultural Design class is sponsored by four large companies: Nokia, The American Heart Association, Wrigley, and one more.

The engagement didn't wait for the workshop the next day, questions flew comparing incidence organic groceries,farmers' markets, maternity and child counting(how do you consider that-medicine or wellbeing?)and the PKU's compulsory Tai chi whereas the girls must take aerobics. There is one young man from the countryside and his parents are rice farmers. He is shyer to speak but his eyes pierce and his face is calm. The student s are in a variety of programs from law to business, a minor in German (we talked about Fassbiner, Herzog, Wim Wenders and Dorris Dorie), engineering and then there are the art studetns from CAFA....they're classic artschool characters and I'm looking forward to talking more with them.

The beautiful healthy lunch I planned came off well without a hitch.