Questions & Answers below

Questions by Adrian Sandiford (1-10) & Wang Yijun (11-12), answered by MMS

/ / / 1. 

Very simply, for people who have never heard of The Other Shop, what is it, why have you opened it, what is the idea behind it all?

The Other Shop is a very small hybrid concept store located inside The Other Place, a cafe and concert venue at Langjia Hutong No.1 - off Beiluoguxiang - in Beijing's Dongcheng district. It is a true hybrid, a category in its own blending products from selected daily goods to design to music gear to fashion to arts and beyond. The Other Shop is collaborating with designers, music labels, creative producers and local manufacturers. A second space next to the shop hosts temporary projects and curated events related to the products, people and contributors of The Other Shop. It is a shop for products to use, to wear, to read, to listen, to look at and to produce. The Other Shop aims to curate products that make sense and happy. 

/ / / 2. 

How and why did this shop come about, and your involvement with it?

A shop has been included in the concept of The Other Place since its re-boot in may of last year, which has been also the starting point of my involvement there. The original idea didn't work out as planned which caused a relatively long vacancy of the reserved space. As I had a concept for a similar project around the world of products in my head since a few years already, I decided to end the vacancy and open The Other Shop in a new format as extension of the activities around The Other Place.

/ / / 3. 

Can you give some specific examples of what you stock, and what sort of people your product range is aimed at?

As of now we stock the full range of Metrobags (400 to 700 RMB), a collection of sturdy and functional bags for daily urban use, hand-crafted in Beijing and a unique selection of music gear covering mainly electronic music and creative groove production plus DJ equipment. The music gear department will also host a range of DIY built instruments (such as from Beijing's electronic instrument builder Meng Qi) to rather experimental products such as FM3's Buddha Machine and more. We are extending our product portfolio with editions from objects to prints to photography and artists books plus a small selection of daily goods. 

The first edition we have available at The Other Shop is a silk-screen print of the cover motive of the last Dear Eloise 7 inch, released on Beijing's Genjing Records, China's only true vinyl label, run by Nevin Domer. The edition has been printed by the Shanghai-based Idle Beats silk-screen workshop and has an edition of 200 copies, 200 RMB each. 

The Other Shop's customers are people looking for a very specific product they won't find at any other place and people curious and open enough to discover products they do not know yet about. The Other Shop keeps an eye on local products and emphasizes on a local to Chinese context. In that sense The Other Shop also allows to discover products, brands and design coming from Beijing and China by the outside world. 

/ / / 4. 

You mentioned to me that you are a very critical consumer, and you hate consumption that is not considered or reflected upon - can you expand on this, and explain how this philosophy can be seen in The Other Shop.

Right, consume sucks. This goes all the way from the food industry to design. If there is a philosophy behind The Other Shop, then it is to reflect about the specific quality and context of each of the products. The quality can range from a design that works (even of that of a simple cup) to creative production and extension (such as in the offered music gear) to a rather intellectual quality (books and editions). You won't find decorative products, claiming to be design items but in fact are completely useless and pointless and therefore are a simple waste of resources.

Do not buy what you do not need and what cannot add anything substantial to your life. 

/ / / 5. 

I also understand that this will be a space for collaborations and cross-disciplinary creation - can you give some examples, and explain your thinking here?

The Other Shop is collaborating with designers, music labels, creative producers and local manufacturers. A second space next to the shop hosts temporary projects and curated events related to the products, people and contributors of The Other Shop. Just as The Other Place, The Other Shop offers room for dialogue and experiments. The curated products do have originators and entities behind. There is a pretty pragmatic level of synergy and mutual inspiration initiated by the social interaction of the contributors and by customer feedback. A few musicians started to use the Metrobags as gig bags for their music gear, such as Beijing's Dead J and Shanghais's Han Han from Duck Fight Goose. Moreover the needs and dimensions for musicians and their desire of mobility cannot be fully covered by the current Metrobags collection. This said I am working on a concept for gig bags to extend the current metro bags collection in order to cover these needs. As the shop is switching from its soft-opening alpha phase to its open beta phase, the shop enters its actual stage of research and testing. 

/ / / 6. 

Obviously people in the industry will be aware of your background and history, but can you explain this to our readers, and how it has affected or influenced what you are trying to do with The Other Shop.

I am a hybrid such as The Other Shop. I'm a designer, curator and creative, focusing on a rather immediate urban context. Coming form the background of contemporary art as artist and running an art gallery, I always have been closely attached to electronic music and curating in both fields for over 20 years. Producing electronic music myself brought me in touch with technology and I have been working in the audio industry for a few years. In China I am most known for my design works and “hybrid media” related projects in architecture, which can be seen as a hybrid outcome of blending the experiences and backgrounds in the different work fields. I have been working with MAD, OMA, Urbanus, Henn Architects and Buro Ole Scheeren and at the same time running an independent platform for electronic music (Metrowaves) and recently founded the record label Sinotronics, whose name derives from a project I curated end of 2012 for Berlin's House of the Cultures of the Worlds with an entire Chinese line up of electronic and independent musicians. During the last two years I made a transition from architecture dominated work to curated projects closer attached to the fields of design, urbanism and electronic music. I have been involved with projects for the last three Beijing Design weeks and a few of your readers might also recall the Urban Electronics project I developed for Audi in July 2013, with its peak event in 751 (with Monolake, Dead J, Far Media Lab, FM3). 

Personally I got rid of most of my personal belongings leading to a great experience of liberation from the world of consumption. This easily explains how things are coming together in The Other Shop. It might to a certain extend seem to be a personal irony to open a shop, however the shop itself is both a statement and an experiment to create an example of a different culture of consumption and at the same time not rejecting the simple understanding that a project like this cannot be totally free of contradictions. 

/ / / 7. 

How would you describe the look, feel and layout etc of the shop to someone who has not been there?

The look and feel is simple and welcoming. The Other Shop doesn't bother you with decoration or exaggerated education. I am trying to present a broad range of products within a tiny space, without overloading or stuffing the space. For that I designed simple displays and due to the spatial limitation the products will need to rotate and the arrangement is subject of a changing process. The look of the graphic designs and the website is following my favour for a rather clear and reduced design language which can be found in the designs of The Other Place and Sinotronics already. As The Other Shop aims to be different it also aims to feel different. 

/ / / 8. 

What is the most unique thing about this shop, and what does it say about Beijing today/the context within which you have opened it.

The most unique thing about The Other Shop is that there isn't such a curated place of products in Beijing yet. Beijing had a little wave creating a higher awareness of the word 'design' not necessarily creating too many exciting designs. A couple of so called design stores opened between Sanlitun, 798 and around Gulou within the last two years. Most of them (not all) offer a painful selection of superfluous goods, using the word design to stimulate consumption and to justify a higher price range. However the potential and outcome in the fields of design, sub-cultural production, independent art production are not yet represented in any of these stores. That way I hope The Other Shop to become home of unique products and hybrids which hardly fit anywhere else but which are without question unique in their creative and intellectual quality and beyond do represent the contemporary Beijing. 

/ / / 9. 

Very simply: why should people come to this shop?

Very simple: To discover, to experience, to be surprised and to get products that allow to enhance their identity. 

/ / / 10. 

Is there anything else that you would like to add, that you think I have missed, or that you think is important that our readers know about The Other Shop?

There are in fact a lot of exciting things in the works and to a certain extend The Other Shop in its current size and concept won’t be able to cover that, so let’s see where this is going to lead to in the upcoming future.

The Other Shop serves as a amplifier and bridge between products, producers and users. The products in The Other Shop are eventually much more than simply sitting in their shelves in order to be purchased and to be placed into another shelf. Products in the end all tell their very own stories.

/ / / 11.

What's your plan in the recent future as we cannot see more products in other fields beside music gears? It's important to let readers know you are not only a 'music tool' shop, and not only a 'shop', you are a place to let people to hang together and let people to learn creative stuff. So tell me something about the plans, some kinds of words you said to me yesterday.

Plans are easily made but need time to be realized.

Important is the curatorial aspect of the shop. It has been easy to expand the music gear department instantaneously as this a more or less defined product world and since I have good contacts in that industry, those products are now well present already. The plans for other products include more local designs from usable to wearable products, from young design talents and new design ideas to more or less time less Chinese designs. This will also touch the field of fashion, though definitely not reaching out to accessories and jewelry, as I personally see no need for these kind of products. Books and publications on urbanism plus printed products that are somehow oscillating between zines, editions and artworks will be a growing department and last but not least special editions with artists, photographers, designers and other local creatives exclusively produced and offered at The Other Shop will  be a focus of the product world and work. As mentioned earlier the products and their makers are in a virtual dialogue. It will be important to showcase their contexts. The context of the products and their creators. Therefore the project space next door the shop is an open space for projects, presentations and workshops. Since The Other Shop is located within The Other Place, a courtyard cafe and concert venue, it is an ideal place to hang out with friends and work. Next to the potential discovery of products there is space for social activity and all sorts of creative accidents.

/ / / 12

As a foreigner / non-local who lives in here, how do you think about the environment and creative / artsy vibe of beijing?

Being a foreigner (and I ever will be such) I am defining myself as a new local in the sense that Beijing is the local centre of my life and living, a city I have becoming deeply involved in over the years. Originally attracted and drawn into Beijing has been the city's unique vibe and energy at a time more than 6 years ago. This vibe throughout the various scenes is at a low peak. Regardless only now it is thinkable to do a project like The Other Shop, since the awareness for design, local design is not only more present and developed but in itself depicts a particular recognizable value.

There are two groups of consumers in town I see as potential audience for The Other Shop (and surely not only TOS), the independent creatives with a high reflection of design and consumption and the group of financially independents with the desire to belong to the exclusive minority. Gucci, Prada, Vitra and Co are not capable to cover the particular interests and desires of both groups. 

The artsy vibe might be low at this point but a city isn't always developing the way you might individually prefer or wish. A city changes over time and in waves. We are still in the wave of mindless consumption and superficial situational satisfaction. It will take a long time for a change but we are already in that new underlying wave. 

The polluted environment doesn't make Beijing a lovely cosy place to live, it's a demanding and challenging city, which is forcing creatives to sharpen their mind and to persist on their ideas. Be kick ass or your ass will be kicked.

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