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Selling cute

Updated: 2012-09-24 15:28
By chinadaily.com.cn

Walking through the streets of Beijing, I find myself surrounded by stores selling small gadgets. These gadgets – be they toys, ornaments, daily necessities, or anything else – have one thing in common, they all look cute. With more and more young Chinese adults getting crazy about cute things, the industry creating and selling cuteness is growing. I visited Han Xue, a local designer, in her east-Beijing studio to explore what was behind a life of cuteness.

"In my opinion, cuteness is a sense of joyfulness that reminds you of your childhood. Many young people like it because they want to find something that makes them smile while life is getting more and more stressful. They think this is good because it is cheerful and makes them smile," said Han.

Han was born to a worker's family, but both of her parents are devoted art enthusiasts. Her father is a painting and calligraphy master while her mother does excellent needlework. I guess this was how she grew to love art and design and eventually become a professional herself.

"It all started very unexpectedly. It was in my fourth year of college when I went to "Creativity Fair" one day and found it rather interesting. Then I thought I would major in design in college so maybe I could do that as well. To my surprise, my products were well received by the market. So I decided to quit my job and be an independent designer instead. My first design is very simple indeed. It's a cassette. I love music very much so I thought why not make a cassette into a necklace. Since then, you can often find musical elements in my design. That is how it started."

As a lover of rock music who gets excited about the sense of strength, passion, and rebellion, Han sometimes finds it hard to blend into the world of cute.

"There are things that are interesting in my opinion but maybe not the public's. For example, some subcultural elements like rock'n roll. I've been striving to find a way to balance individuality with market demand by watering the edginess down a bit."

"Prospects are promising," Han said. "It gives young, ambitious designers a liberalized, grand market to tap their creative talents.

Han believes the future prosperity of creative design rests on the heated communication and active exchange of ideas amongst designers. With China looking to slowly evolve its innovative creative industries, it's young designers like Han who are inspiring the younger generation by tapping into their love for cute.

Selling cute

Video: Jia Fan (Intern)

Producer: Flora Yue