University of Leicester
2023XieLPhD.pdf (12.17 MB)

Design and Enterprise in Contemporary China: A New Role for Museums and Heritage

Download (12.17 MB)
posted on 2023-08-09, 09:19 authored by Lingling Xie

This thesis challenges traditional narratives of museum history by exploring the domains of policy, industrial heritage, urban planning, cultural enterprise, museum exchange and design exhibitions so as to form an understanding of design culture in contemporary China. The thesis argues that these different contextual dimensions, which sit outside the interior concerns of design museums, are important facilitators both for the construction and purpose of these museums and for the wider project of modernising the nation through its embrace of design culture. Beginning with how China’s central and local governments have established a political environment for the development of a new design culture and its design museums, this study traces the ambitious and tireless work of reusing industrial heritage, delivering new cultural infrastructure as well as introducing design museums and exhibitions, which in the era of reform and opening up has been undertaken by enthusiastic and pioneering practitioners (such as policy makers, entrepreneurs, museum professionals, and scholars). This research makes a significant contribution to current global debates concerning China becoming a new creative power in design, following a period of industrial and manufacturing transformation. In particular, it examines the ecosystem of design culture in Shenzhen as an example of the emergence and construction of national design, as the city transformed itself from a so-called ‘cultural desert’ to become UNESCO’s City of Design in 2008.



Simon Knell

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD