Zai jien Shanghai!

在基恩 上海

It is time to say zai jien!

Dear Friends, I have to go, but I will be back….

“If there is a single way that my understanding has changed … or at least become fuller and more complicated, it is appreciating in a new way how big, varied, contradictory, sprawling, and impossible to describe in any simple terms ‘China’ is…”
James Fallows, The Atlantic’s foreign correspondent, Talk Shanghai August 2009

This guy put into words what I am thinking…

Well, ok, there are a couple of things I would never fully understand. I am still annoyed when it comes to

… spitting and body noises, pushing the close button first in the elevator, taxi driver stops in the middle of nowhere and admits that he don’t know where to go, people rush to get in, when you are still getting out … (either: … of a restaurant, of an elevator, of a taxi, …), people don’t say hello in the elevator, the enormous noise in typical Chinese restaurants…
This things might be funny, not so funny are topics like air-pollution and human rights… people got fined or even tortured for asking why so many village members have cancer (in a polluted area) or get the death-sentence for corruption. And unwanted female babies got thrown into the river…
Unfortunately, these awful things are preferably seen and reported in the West, a phenomenon known as “China bashing”. Of course there is no excuse for mistreating or killing people. In no country in the world! Sadly enough, I’ve heard it more than once that Chinese excuse deeds like that with similiar occurences in the U.S.

But there is another side aswell…

People are surprising friendly to Westerners. They try to make your life as nice as possible especially fellow co-workers or new friends you sure going to find here very quickly rush to your side to offer help and assistance. Chinese are good humored, funny, they love to laugh and sing (not only karaoke but in the open as well…).
Chinese are curious and mostly optimistic. Life in Shanghai is intense and fast pacing. There is always something to do… a new exhibition, a party, a new restaurant. Speaking of which: if you like to go out you will find a  myriad of restaurants, bars, clubs that suit your taste (and age group). If you love food and wine and going out, this is the place to be. I’ve been in dozens of places and there are still a lot I would like to try. And when you still feel a bit hungry after a long night there is always a street BBQ around the corner with delicious meat skewers for those in need. Friends call you in the middle of the night asking you which place you headed at. Or you meet them anyway in one of those many favourite places you visit a couple of almost every night. Taxi driving is very cheap, massage and beauty parlors are all over the place, strolling around the neighbourhoods is a delight… You can get a lot of nice hand-craftet stuff which is enormously cheap like clothes or glasses or for example.

Westerners I met here told me, that they don’t want to stay for ever, but after a while in Shanghai they got hooked and don’t want to leave either… because the question is: where to go next??? There are not that many cities in the world so intrigiung and captivating as Shanghai…

Design 4 Disadvantaged

Design for the Disadvantaged D4D

Design for the Disadvantaged D4D was recently launched in Shanghai, a project to help those most in need by taking the collective knowledge and skills of designers.

Design for the Disadvantaged

Who are the Disadvantaged? No, these are not (only) disabled people but all those which don’t belong to the world’s fortunate 10% … Of the world’s total population of 6.5 billion, 5.8 billion people, or 90%, have little or no access to most of the products and services many of us take for granted; in fact, nearly half do not have regular access to food, clean water, electricity or shelter. Other problems are illiteracy, homelessness, lack of education.

Universal design aims for supporting those people in need.

Universal design is a relatively new paradigm that emerged from “barrier-free” or “accessible design” and “assistive technology.” Universal design strives to be a broad-spectrum solution that produces buildings, products and environments that are usable and effective for everyone, not just people with disabilities. Moreover, it recognizes the importance of how things look. For example, while built up handles are a way to make utensils more usable for people with gripping limitations, some companies introduced larger, easy to grip and attractive handles as feature of mass produced utensils. They appeal to a wide range of consumers.


Principles of Universal Design

  1. Principle One: Equitable UseThe design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities
  2. Principle Two: Flexibility in UseThe design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  3. Principle Three: simple and intuitiveUse of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  4. Principle Four: Perceptible InformationThe design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  5. Principle Five: Tolerance for ErrorThe design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Principle Six: Low Physical EffortThe design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Principle Seven: Size and Space for Approach and UseAppropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

Source: The Center for Universal Design

Design for the Disadvantaged D4D in Shanghai was conceived by Douglas Wang from AutoDesk, to bring together the design community to create tools, services, and objects of everyday life to help those around us most in need, financially and physically disabled local Chinese.  D4D has gone from idea to organization in just under two months, and has brought on lead designers and executives from Frog, Microsoft, AutoDesk, and others.

The design profession has much more to offer our society than just basic aesthetics, functions and usability. Design can solve problems creatively and effectively, raise social awareness, improve the quality of life, and promote social interaction.

Project’s goal: support street vendors

Project’s goal will be to develop tools, services, products for street vendors in Shanghai. Though for example thousands of people enjoy their noudle soups and BBQ skewers from street vendors each night or others get cheap watches or DVDs from peddlers, street vendors are a disadvantaged group. In recent years conflicts between street vendors and the police forces chengguans have frequently went out of control, with officers and vendors both resorting to violence.

The development process

The project’s development process follows the approach of User Centered Design.

Student works opportunities

To my students at Hochschule Esslingen: contact me for oppurtunities (thesis work, internships) to take part in this project.


Total eclipse…

Too bad: total eclipse totally hidden in the clouds….

It poured almost all day!

Eclipse in Shanghai at 09:02am


Total eclipse tomorrow

Wednesday, July 22 2009, around 9:30 we will have a total eclipse in Shanghai, meaning that the rare situation takes place, that the moon totally covers the sun. During the day it will be pitch dark for 5 Minutes. Normally, temperature might drop a little aswell, but I am afraid this is not going to happen this time. We have more than 30°C also at night since a couple of weeks here.

It will be the first eclipse in Asia and the longest one in the 21st century. It will be the first for Shanghai since the middle ages (1575 was the last). It will be my third one, I visited total eclipses in Stuttgart (11.08.1999) and South Africa before.

We have brunch with friends at the VUE Bar on 32nd floor of Bund Hyatt to view the spectacle. This place features also the cities highest Jacuzzi.

Links (auf Deutsch)


Shanghai eclipse


Jackie Chan sings

城市让生活更美好 chéng shì ràng shēng huó gèng měi hǎo

Better City, Better Life

Jackie Chan, the 55-year-old martial arts and comedian actor is also well known as a singer in Asia.
He performs this Expo-theme song in front of an impressive Shanghai scenery accompanied by Lang Lang on the piano.

Youtube is blocked in China, sorry.
My Chinese friends please follow one of the following links to watch the video:

see also:


One more year and World Expo 2010 Shanghai will open it’s doors to the public. ‘Better city, better life’ is the official claim and almost 200 countries are expected to make their contributions (Germany sends Hamburg, partner city of Shanghai and Bremen. US is not confirmed yet.).
Such a major event needs not only a visual and a claim but also – a mascot!
And mascot for Expo 2010 is… : Haibao! a blue grinning creature with some retarded Elvis-bad-hair-a-do.

Design Desaster? Funny Fake? Cute Creature?

Design Desaster? Funny Fake? Cute Creature?


The picture shows Haibao at the offical Expo store (Nanying Xi Lu) in it’s spring attire. If you think Haibao looks like a Father Christmas going berserk you are wrong: this is Haibao in traditional China costume with fire crackers (fire works is what Chinese REALLY love!).

So why is it that a bunch of old guys chose this childish, somewhat-80ties, trivial and not at all future-headed creature for such a remarkable event? I don’t no either. But note that lots of Chinese love puppets with hudge Betty-Boop-innocent-eyes and big-headed-Hello-Kitties or baby-ape-Monchichis. And Haibao has it all. And hey, like it or not – city streets are massively cluttered with Haibao… you better get used to it….

Others point out the stunning resemblance to Gumby, an American Kid-TV character of the 50ties. Blue big-eyed Izzy Olympic mascot might also been an inspiration… Or is it just a funny blue dancing condom? May be a dollop of spit?

Wu Yongjian, a professor at the College of Digital Arts with Shanghai University, is the creator of Haibao, which literally means the treasure of the sea (hai). According to Shanghai Daily, the professor wanted something new… “A large number of mascot designs to express Chinese culture were inspired by images of pandas, monkeys and dragons, etc,” says Wu. “What I did was try to find another way to interpret China, a more abstract way.” It says he draw the Chinese character 大 dà (big) on a napkin in his favorite café… and basically put some eyes on it… Later, the story was changed and the character 人 ren (person or people) is mentioned from than on.

Haibao at a street corner

World Expo 2010 Shanghai
World Expo year-long countdown starts today!
Olympic Mascots Atlanta 1996 Izzy
Haibao idea born in a cafe

Haibao everywhere

Míngpiàn 名片

Míngpiàn 名片

名 míng
fame, reputation
label, name

片 piàn
slice, tablet, piece

Zhe shi wo de mingpian – Here is my business card.




The business card in China is equally or even more important than in the western business world. You hand over your card with both hands and accept it the same way. Don’t do it the sloppy European way 😉
Accept the card with both hands (that is thumb and index finger), look at it (yes read it, it’s very ok…) and make some friendly comments or even give a nice compliment (if there is nothing to compliment on admire the impressive company visual…).

Make friends! 🙂


Balcony view

Balcony view

Balcony view

Yes… I had to take it again… such a clear view – and during the day??? Sky and air was thick and yellowish… I almost felt like in Bejing today. Humidy 100% … argh…

Jing’an Temple

Guan Yin

Goddess Guan Yin

Jing’an Temple 静安寺

Jìng’ānsì, the Temple of Peace and Tranquility is a Buddhist temple on West Nanjing Road, in the Jing’an district. It’s surrounded by shopping mails and sky scrapers, but the temple area is indead peaceful and tranquil. Entrance fee is 20 RMB. Nice place!

Guan Yin is a popular goddess in Chinese folk belief and is worshiped in Chinese communities throughout Asia. Guan Yin is revered in the general Chinese population due to her unconditional love, compassion and mercy. She is generally regarded by many as the protector of women and children. By this association she is also seen as a fertility goddess capable of granting children (source: wikipedia).

sì means Buddhist temple. “Si” has more than 30 meanings, but the different signs are unique. “Si” aso means 四 “4” for example, but also 死 “death” if pronounced differently. This is why the number 4 is a unlucky number. Nobody wants to have “4” as part of mobile number or licence plate…


Teppanyaki Table


Today, Japanese food for lunch…

Teppanyaki is quite popular in Shanghai, there are more than twenty places in the city.
We gathered around a teppanyaki table to indulge in grilled meats, seafood, vegetables. Our personal chef prepared beef, prawns and octopus cooked to order. Fun to watch and to eat, it’s worth a try.