Baishizhou is a typical Chinese urban village — lots of people from all over China coming to try their chances in the big city. For French designer Nicolas Deladerriere, who has resided in the neighborhood for seven years, Baishizhou is full of life, with plenty of things to see and ways of life to discover.
Through a set of magnetic stickers he designed, people can catch a glimpse of the area. They feature a series of unique elements such as a small fish market, residents cycling, snack stands, massage shops, toy factories, and cables and pipes outside the wall.
“I know there are plenty of things to be improved there and lots are disappearing. This work is like a tiny portrait of all the positive spirit that inspires me in that place. China has gone through fast changes in the last few decades. So it might be interesting to look back in the future and be able to see how all of these things have evolved and keep some nice memories of them,” said Nicolas.
Sometimes Baishizhou reminds him of the dense and tiny streets that once made up the center of Paris before they were developed into more well defined areas with larger avenues. He said it’s nice to see all the photos of how Paris was before and get an idea of how life was at that time.
While he was studying marketing and design in the U.K., he connected with Chinese friends and some of them pushed him to go to Beijing, which was his first foray into China. After graduation, Nicolas wanted to discover places outside of Europe, and landed in Shenzhen two weeks later to have his first experience in a small design agency. During his time at the agency, they won a red dot award for innovative projects.
Then he joined Alcatel, part of TCL, where he researched new materials for mobile phones, allowing him to be even more in touch with new technologies. Later, he joined a furniture company based in Europe to develop projects in China over a period of four years.
All of the experiences stimulated him not just to look for sources of creativity in the industrial design realm, but in a variety of things.“Now I spend time with my boy a bit more and do more creative projects for myself or some of my friends, trying to develop some fun, creative and tiny things like goodies about my different feelings towards China.”
One day, a friend mentioned the Dream Factory Project, a charity focusing on creativity and development, specifically how creativity can generate solutions to problems for residents of poor villages in China. For instance, how to store water properly, generate energy and retain heat, all of which increase sustainability.
Deladerriere joined the project. “But I mostly pushed a way of trying to play with traditional culture there, arts and crafts knowledge from people living there, and the raw materials we can find on site, trying to revisit traditional culture,” he said.