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Naihan Li

Naihan Li (b. 1981 Harbin, lives in Beijing) studied design and architecture at London’s Bartlett School of Architecture. Her first work as a designer was as a collaborator with artist Ai Weiwei, and in 2010, opened her own design studio.  In 2011, under Ai Weiwei’s art direction, Li designed the “Un-Named” section of the Gwanjiu Design Biennale where she also exhibited. Li has been nominated for the 2012 Design of the Year Award by the Design Museum, London. She was a featured designer the China Design Market at Milan Design Week (2010, 2011) and Beijing Design Week (2011).

Born in Harbin, Naihan moved to Beijing in the mid-80s and spent her childhood amid the explosion of imported cultural concepts that defined the era. She graduated from Beijing No. 4 High School in 1999 and left for the UK, where she studied design and architecture at London’s Bartlett School of Architecture.

Her first work as a designer, collaboration with artist Ai Weiwei, was as coordinator for the Jinhua Architectural Park development in Zhejiang Province. She subsequently worked as an independent architect and designer for a variety of projects of different scales. Her finished constructions include Keruo Space in Caochangdi and the Royal Kitchen Restaurant and Gift Shop inside the Forbidden City.

As the director of BAO Atelier Hong Kong beginning in 2006, Naihan led graphic and catalogue design projects such as “Aftershock Contemporary British Art” for the British Council, “ALLLOOKSAME-China, Japan and Korea Art,” and “China Business Guide” for Santander Bank. She also worked on the exhibition designs of Seduction-Borderline Moving Image and as Creative Director on the NIKE Golden 08 Beijing Olympic Creative research project.

From 2008, Naihan worked as the project coordinator and designer for the UBS Art Collection Show entitled “Memories for Tomorrow” at the Shanghai Art Museum, “Moving Horizons” at the Beijing National Art Museum, and the Guangdong Art Museum show entitled “Fact and Fiction.” Her installation “Brandenburg Gate” was also displayed in the Goethe Institute’s 20th Anniversary project in Beijing entitled “Goethe Night.”

In 2009, she was featured as an artist and exhibition designer at the New Media Archaeology Exhibition of the E-Art Festival in Shanghai and the Emporium exhibition in Milan, Italy.

In 2010, Naihan opened her own furniture design studio and has produced several furniture series including The CRATES, which was nominated for the 2012 Design of the Year Award by the Design Museum in London. She was a featured designer and exhibition designer at the China Design Market exhibition of Milan Design Week in 2010 and 2011.

In 2011, she worked as the exhibition designer for the Gwangju Design Biennale Un-Named section, curated by Branden McGetrick under the art direction of Ai Weiwei, and presented the FOLD series of furniture. She was a featured designer at 2011 Beijing Design Week, and initiated Caochangdi’s participation as one of the three major locations as a design hub during 2012 Beijing Design Week.

Naihan currently lives and works in Beijing in the Caochangdi Art District.