Germany is a country long known for quality and attention to detail. A traveling exhibition now on view in Shanghai is allowing members of the public to get up close and personal with thousands of pristine examples of contemporary Teutonic craftsmanship.
“Handmade in Germany,” which runs through June 22 at the Up-Artsh Museum in Baoshan District, features an eclectic selection of craft objects and precision instruments made — mostly by hand — in Germany. Objects on display include designer wristwatches, delicate porcelain wares, modern furniture and consumer electronics.
A total of 150 German manufacturers, artists, designers and luxury brands are participating in the exhibition, which aims to showcase the beauty of German craft and design tradition. After leaving Shanghai, the traveling show — which started in Berlin — is slated to arrive in several world cities over the coming years, including Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, New York and Rome.
For Chinese visitors who may think of Germany only as a producer of luxury cars and industrial machines, this exhibition offers the chance to see the country in a whole new light.
Indeed, standing below an illuminated Herrnhut star — a traditional multi-pointed star that is often used as decoration during Advent, Christmas and other religious observances — Vivian Hu, a visitor to the exhibition, says she is surprised by the object’s delicate beauty and warmth.
“In the past I always thought Germans were merely good at manufacturing and heavy industries — vehicles and other huge machines. I could never have imagined the Germans could make all these lovely, interesting things,” she explains.
Meanwhile, Henry Ye, an industrial designer, described the wide selection on display as “diverse, innovative and unique.” With its history of bold and vibrant designs, Germany has been a leading voice in the art world. Artists from the country were, for example, at the forefront of Gothic design in the late Medieval period and were also instrumental in spearheading the hugely influential Bauhaus movement of the early 20th century. Of course, as the exhibition indicates, German artists and designers are still world leaders in numerous fields.
Many of the participants in the exhibition are small workshops with employee fewer than 10 people. But even the smallest operations continue to take pride in keeping their national craft traditions alive.
During the exhibition, visitors can purchase authentic gastronomic treats, including beers and sausages. On weekends, the museum will also host an outdoor creative market featuring products from Chinese and foreign designers.
Up-Artsh Museum is a new art institution in Baoshan District. Formerly a warehouse for rail freight, the museum was renovated in 2013. Today, the museum features 198 freight containers converted into art space and covers and an area of 6,000 square meters.
In addition to its current exhibitions, the museum also contains a collection of vintage luggage items from the 1920s and 30s, from brands such as Hermes and Goyard.