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Duan Shengfeng: Rural Design-A New Form of Design Practice

Duan Shengfeng, the first student of the industrial modeling major of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, is now the vice president of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, a Professor, a member of the Steering Committee of Design Education in Higher Education of the Ministry of Education, and a doctoral supervisor, who has witnessed the whole course of the development of the design profession.

Rural design serves the national implementation of rural revitalization strategy, focusing on the three rural problems to realize the value of ecological resources to cash, dress up the rural living environment, and help the construction of livable and beautiful countryside. The report of the 19th CPC National Congress emphasized that “Issues relating to agriculture, rural areas and the wellbeing of farmers are fundamentally related to the national economy and people’s livelihood, and we must always take the solution of the three rural issues as the top priority of the work of the whole party, and the implementation of the strategy of vitalization of the countryside.”, which opened the great cause of rural vitalization. And the report of the 20th CPC National Congress put forward “push forward all-round rural vitalization, to achieve common prosperity for everyone,” which means that rural vitalization has entered a new stage. In this background, the design discipline is facing responsibility and development opportunities. Based on “Design Intervention for Precise Poverty Alleviation” and the realization that it is different from “Urban Design,” Sichuan Fine Arts Institute has continued to carry out design-driven rural vitalization practice and research, exploring design in rural areas as a new design paradigm, which requires the construction of new theories, methodologies, and practice cases to guide the design practice.

Insight into the urban and rural areas, there are differences in resources, location, and others, but for design in rural areas, which is not bad. In physics, the “potential energy rotation energy” is famous, and similarly, the gap between the countryside and the city, used properly, can be converted into design kinetic energy. Under the premise of ecological constraints, how to avoid turning the villages into “leftovers” of the city has posed a problem for design but also pointed out the direction. Urban centers have brought about triple gaps in incomes, resources, and location, but precisely the transition from gap potential to design kinetic energy that has driven the rural design experience. Each village has unique resource endowments ranging from nature to humanity, and it is impossible to revitalize the industry, culture, organization, culture, and ecology uniformly, nor can the villages be reduced to residual space in the city using a gradual transfer of urban industries. Compared with the city, the countryside has unique agricultural, cultural, and home value, both the root of the Chinese nation and the basis for sustainable development. Therefore, rural design needs to take up the responsibility of green and cultural sustainability, consider the utilization of resources from things to people in specific villages from an ecological point of view, and create new business forms for the integrated development of the “three industries” and new scenarios of harmonious villages with local characteristics to realize the concept of “the beauty of each is its own, and the beauty of the common.”For example, in Zhongyi Township of Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County in Chongqing, the team of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute integrates the architectural style of Tujia with the production, life, and ecology of the local designs to build productive landscapes based on the existing industrial chain to make the villages beautiful and further expand the functions of agriculture in recreation, experience, tourism, and recreation and health care, realizing the value of rural areas in an all-round way.

The rural design also needs to focus on the holistic nature of the designation. It is difficult to face real rural development problems in the usual design disciplines of product design, environmental design, and visual communication design. Designing in rural areas includes the macro-level to industry chain planning, meso-level that farmers participate in the industry chain to create shared value, and micro-level, which means specific product modeling and scene building. In short, specific design-driven rural vitalization practice requires a holistic solution. Designers should have a strong comprehension of the countryside shape and soul casting. Culture is the soul of a region, which needs to be rooted in traditional Chinese culture, compatible with modern science and technology, intelligent agricultural production with Chinese characteristics and wisdom in rural life, and promote the countryside’s transformation and development of the Chinese-style modernization. For example, New Passage Project of Hunan University, the Central Academy of Fine Arts Action Plan for rural vitalization, and China Academy of Art’s Academy of Local Culture are all macro-mid-micro projects, taking into full consideration the guiding role of traditional Chinese culture, letting the tradition talks with the present, injecting conventional elements into the design-driven rural revitalization practice, and creating a new scenario of production and life in the countryside with Chinese characteristics and vernacular flavors.

In recent years, as the practice of rural vitalization continues to advance and deepen, the mission of the design discipline has brought the design to the attention of the design academia. As an emerging discipline, rural design mainly serves the design needs in rural vitalization practice, and its purpose is to promote the realization of rural ecological resources value, improve the rural habitat, and enhance the quality of rural life and happiness. In practice, it shows independent characteristics from other designs, which enables it to become a new design paradigm.

Firstly, rural design has a clear research object and a new practice field, so the previous design method and designation paradigm can not guide the practice of designation in rural areas. At the same time, designing in rural areas links to the traditional vernacular society, which has uniqueness in production, life, and ecology, so we can’t simply use the original design theories and designation practices in rural design.

Secondly, rural design has a people’s nature, and its value goal doesn’t direct trade but to common prosperity. Then the principle of local materials, art, and production become the core of its methodology. Designers should leave their studios with a sense of family and the countryside, walk towards the village with empathy, recognize the villages, reflect on the usual design theories and practices, and reconstruct our design methods and practice paths. The unique local and holistic nature of rural design determines that there are as many different design practices as there are villages and, only by taking into full consideration the natural resources of a particular area and the local knowledge of the farmers can participate in the construction of the countryside for their benefit, and truly give full play to their subjective nature in the revitalization of the village.

Thirdly, by examining the vernacular society from the perspective of design, assisting the strategy of rural revitalization with design thinking, and practicing design from the standpoint of the people, it is possible to see clearly that the picture of the design has already jumped out of the paper. The construction of a countryside different from that of the city can realize the mutual value of modern cities with villages in the economic internal cycle. In the process of promoting Chinese modernization, the design discipline should face up to the new design paradigm of rural design, shoulder the historical mission of the new era, put itself into the theoretical construction and the creation of vivid practice, write down a thick thesis on the rural design on the motherland, form Chinese experience, Chinese cases and Chinese theories on the design of, promote Chinese solutions in the international mutual exchange and contribute new and vivid Chinese contents to the world design.

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