RIBA president/ fashion/ products/ brands… and us

Students with Stephen Hodder

from left: Lui Linzi, Sun Xueyi, Stephen Hodder, Li Yirong, Zhang Jiayun and Su Zhan


On 27th March, five architecture students were invited to attend the launch of RIBA’s showcase event at Xintiandi New Style in Shanghai. The glitzy affair, attended by an international audience of architects, designers and artists was organized to launch the “Design Your Style” project, part of Shanghai Fashion Week.

cyborg dancing

Cyborg laser dancers got the party started

Design Your Style brings ten RIBA architects together with ten international commercial brands based in Xintiandi in order to create a range of eye-catching displays. It is a project that links architectural design with real commercial constraints. The architects have created a range of thought-provoking work; including sculptures, fit-outs and installations intended to demonstrate that architects can work at any scale, from something as small as a window display to something as large as an entire building.

The students, editorial representatives of XJTLU’s architecture department’s online magazine ’Masterplanning the Future’, were there to review the exhibition and to interview the architects. One Hong Kong University designer told me: ‘These students are unbelievably impressive with their ability to talk to strangers with such confidence’.

Li Yirong and Lui Linzi interview a very tall architect

Li Yirong and Lui Linzi interview a very tall architect

Another visiting architect from the UK said, ‘I enjoyed the conversation with (these) students, asking interesting, probing and sometimes difficult questions’. The XJTLU students used the opportunity to network – impressing the architects with their laser-cut business cards made to their own design – and getting high-praise from, Stephen Hodder, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects:

“It is wonderful to meet you all… You are the future of this profession and the ability to bridge between China and the West will be of invaluable benefit to you as global, not just Chinese architects”.

After exchanging his own personal business card with the students, he said: “I would be very interested in coming to XJTLU to see the work you are doing there. It is very good to know that there are these opportunities for (cross-cultural) dialogue”.

Matt Burney, Consul (Cultural and Education) British Consulate-General was guest of honour and made a special point of wishing the department well. “Your students seem very engaging. We are doing a number of events across China and we must get you involved in future”, he said. “We have good contacts with XJTLU and the architecture department… and look forward to continuing the relationship”.

The students returned back to Suzhou late at night, with many new professional friends, contact details of potential guest speakers… and at least two offers of work!

entrance to Xintiandi Style