There’s a sentence by Bruno Munari which I’m always in love with and fits perfectly to creativity in China: “If you see something and you think you can do it, it means that you can just reproduce it, otherwise you would have done it before”. Most of the Chinese suppliers in the Guangdong area supply parts for western products, without having any idea of how the final product is built, designed, or of course without any idea of the concepts of marketing, selling strategy and so on.
The huge misunderstanding is that pressing a button to start a production chain is often mistaken with owning the technology and having the ability to really produce.
My drawers are full of concepts made for companies that won’t ever be able to develop them because they are able to reproduce, not to produce.
If you don’t make research and development you reproduce, if you think about making new products you produce. And unfortunately the polluting part of China is reproducing, because hitting the market with another replica of the Bombo stool is just polluting and nothing more.
Let me give you a clue of that: let’s say that you have a guy that supplies parts of a mobile phone for a very important company that works for another multinational company and asks you to design a new mobile phone. After initial excitement you start to understand that the guy doesn’t have any idea of what is behind a telephone because he starts to ask you if you can build an operative system similar to the one which is mounted on his personal phone (which is of course an iPhone). Let’s say that you think that he’s joking and you kindly answer that those thousands of engineers and researches in Apple are probably deserving their money and building an operative system from scratch is something that is not affordable by a bunch of product designers.
Let’s say that you discover that the guy produces a part of the phone that he doesn’t even know what it does and he thinks that he can reverse engineer the rest. Let’s say that the guy owns a reputed company that is considered one of the key suppliers of ….yes, you can guess the name.
The above example is real!
Mistaking production with creativity, reproducing with art ? Did Andy Warhol come to China?
To find and answer we have to go back to patenting laws and iconic culture. Reproducing is honorable, copying is good, the entire economic, cultural and law system is favorable to that.
So covering old technologies with new packaging or reproducing a product widely sold on the Apple Store just a few days after launch makes you honorable and smart even if delivering trucks are stuck in the parking lots because nobody wants a copy of Hello Kitty or Spiderman printed on his objects. Kickstarter is a place to steal ideas, EBay a place to buy samples to reengineer.
Often I hear the concept of “Original Copy” which has been invented by entrepreneurs in this country. It doesn’t mean that it looks like the original; it literally means that the word original itself doesn’t exist.
Where is original in a place that represents the factory of the world? One third of the products on the planet come from here, designed in Cupertino, made in China, assembled in Turkey, where is the original?
In these terms I laugh when I hear that there’s somebody that still thinks “Made in Italy” is a marketing proposition.