Futuristic Chinese heritage

Milan design week became a great platform for the Chinese designer Mario Tsai to present his solo exhibition "From the Structures", revealing the results of experiments with contemporary production techniques.
30 April, 2019
Hangzhou-based designer showed a modular lighting collection and a range of tables with bases made of aluminium.
His creations reflected the desire to combine references to China's heritage with a futuristic vision. "Older Chinese designers still focus a lot on the past and base their products on pieces from the Ming dynasty or other periods in China's history," he told Dezeen. "But China is changing and we want to make things that represent modern life."

The eye-catching Mazha lighting system became a brilliant in the exhibition's crown. The construction was inspired by the cross-shaped structure of the traditional Chinese 'mazha' seat. It comprises a series of modular lighting elements that can be extended indefinitely. The modules are suspended from thin wires that carry a 12-volt current to the tubular light fittings. The system is adaptive as several configurations are possible.

Images: Dezeen
One more gripping objects by Mario Tsai were collection of tables, which are made using plane aluminium profiles that allow extremely long and strong surfaces to be produced.

Legs and cross braces shaped like I-beams used in construction provide a stable base for tabletops that can be specified in various widths, thanks to an intelligent system of interlocking panels.

The use of aluminium profiles with a hollow structure makes the tables very lightweight, yet still strong and stable.

Images: Dezeen
Finally, Tsai exhibited the press tables, which utilizes the elastic properties of stainless steel sheets to create a base that supports a thick steel-plate top.

The three pieces of steel are bent into shape and fixed together using screw fittings. The tabletop is then attached to a central ring using suction cups.

According to Tsai, exhibiting in Milan offers an opportunity to showcase the capabilities of Chinese design to new markets.

Images: Dezeen
"A lot of media come to Milan this week and it is a very good opportunity for networking," said the designer, who added that the expense of travelling from China meant it was a decision that was not made lightly.

Earlier this year, Tsai was chosen as one of six young Chinese designers whose work was showcased at part of Maison&Objet's Rising Talent Awards.

Banner image: Dezeen