第一类是御用设计师，其中的重要代表是郎世宁（Giuseppe Castiglione，1688-1766）， 意大利人，本来是被教会派到中国传教的，结果却被康熙召进宫中，做了宫廷画师，放弃了原本伟大的理想，终生侍奉康、雍、乾三朝大帝。为了讨好皇帝，他甚至改变自己的油画技法和当时先进的透视学原理，而屈服于皇帝的嗜好，人像都不能画阴影，甚至连作画题材都由皇帝指定。郎世宁的主要设计工作是奉命参与圆明园西洋楼的修建。他还专门向乾隆皇帝引荐了另一位天才—蒋友仁（Benoist Michael，1715－1774），法国人，原来也是被派到中国来传教的。他精通数学、天文学及物理。原本可让这样的大才发展国家之科学与济民之术，乾隆却“不问苍生问鬼神”，蒋友仁受宠若惊地被召到宫中设计喷泉跌水等游戏，先做了“谐奇趣”的大水法，后又做了蓄水楼、养雀笼、黄花阵、海晏堂、远瀛观等等之水法工程，一干就是12个年头。以这样两位奇才为代表的外国御用设计师，皆可谓大才，本可以为中国的发展做出更有意义的贡献、发挥更大的作用，却不幸受困于权贵牢笼，其设计作品留给世人的无非那些作为封建帝王陪葬品的汉白玉残石之类。
Writing Biographies for Foreign Designers in China
Designers,currently or previously,working in China in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture,and urban development can,so far as I know,be classified into four categories:
Category I: Imperial Designers. Thekey representative of this category is Giuseppe Castiglione(1688-1766),anItalian who was originally sent by the church to China on missionary duty, but was summoned by Emperor Kang Xi to become a court painter. He gave uphis mission,instead devoting his life to serving Emperors Kang Xi,Yong Zheng,and Qian Long. In order to please the emperors,he even changed his painting technique,adding then advanced perspective rules.His work was highlycontrolled by the Emperor,for example. shadows were not allowed in portraits,and the emperors decided on the subjects of his paintings. Castiglione's major designtask was to participate in construction of the western mansions of the Old Summer Palace.He recommended Benoist Michael(1715-1774),a Frenchman who originally was also sent to China for missionary work,to Emperor Qian Long. Michael, highly adept at mathematics, astronomy and physics,could have contributed significantly to developing China's national sciences and livelihood.However,common people were not the concern of Emperor Qian Long. Instead, Michael was summoned by the emperor to design fountains and cascades for the imperial court.He spent 12 years designing a fountain called Xieqiqu,and then famous fountains such as Yangquelong, Huanghuazhen, Haiyantang and Yuanyingguan.Foreign imperial designers,such as Castiglione and Michael,couldhaveplayedagreaterand more meaningful role in the developrment of China,but unfortunately they were confined within the court,leaving behind them only ruins of white marble and mortuary objects of past emperors.
Category II: Star Designers. This group of designers is famous in the western world for their unique characteristics and styles. Early in the 1980s they only appeared in academic textbooksor magazines,and were not employed by Chinese developers or local governments because they were: 1) extremely high priced compared to local Chinesedesigners;2)too insistent in their own styles to design according to the willof officials; and 3) unwilling to come to China. At that time. China had a poorinternational reputation,and while some Chinese developers loved their ideas,they refused to pay foreign designers.
Chinese urban planners were good at "absorbing the good points of all parties"by inviting well-known designers to draw up solutions and then giving them to local designers for a "comprehensive scheme".But late in the 1990s,as urban development was pushed forward,richgovernments and property developers started spending money recklessly byemploying star designers.Particularly,in the past decade when the western economy has been stuck by recession and the Chinese currency has appreciated,star designers, regardless of their reputations, have crowded into Chinese cities,to see their designs realized.The Beijing Olympics in 2008,the Shanghai WorldExpo in 2010,garden exhibitions of all types,and large-scale design competitions for new cities have turned China into an arena and experimental base forhigh profile foreign designers.Originally known for their personal characteristics and styles,these star designers were labeled uniformly in China as "top internationaldesigners",andwereemployed by urban policy-makers who wanted to brag about being "international"and "world-class". The result has been a pile of experimental objects,many of which were not in use ten years after construction,while other projects were in almost ruins upon their completion due to lowconstruction quality. No one was willing to shoulder the high maintenance cost.The result resembles the aftermath of a grand party,where both the hosts and guests are gone,leaving behind a messed-up house.
Category Ill:Commercial Designers.These designers have a clear objective:they come to China because it is lucrative. Since the beginning of reform and opening in the 1980s, it has been a common consensus among Chinese developers that "foreign designs are better than the local ones",which,to a great extent,is true.Under such a guiseof worshiping all things foreign,foreign designshavebeenusedaspretextby the Chinese developers and policy-makers for radical urban development.Residential projects,with such names as“Palace of Fontainebleau”,“Champs-Elysées","Seine Villa","Leela Villa", and even "Spain Town","Italian Town","German Town",and "Mediterrancan Town"have been emerging in large numbers.Inthesedevelopments,western designers have a chance to fully display their skilled experience and techniques. Compared with small-scale "leftover"projects in their own countries,millions of square kilometers in China are opento architectural and landscape design and experimentation.In China,foreign designers have been treated like stars,their portraits and resumes printed on the brochure cover of housing projects.Some even have their photos and design manuscriptshangingforpromotionatairports andonbillboardsinurbansquaresTo expand their business,these foreign design offices have established branches in China,employing young Chinese designers, and in some cases are larger than their home offices abroad.Compared to the local designers,these foreignlesigners,real or fake,charge much higher fees. Since foreign designers are so popular, some Chinese designers, with or without an overseas education,set upforeign-named offices and employ one or twoEuropeandesignersaswindowdressing,and even ask foreign actors to play as a designer to do presentations to clients.In short,Chinese developers do not care about the quality of forcign designs,but only their foreign name.As a result, foreign designers are often only involved in the concept proposal stage,and in these cases local designers often complete construction drawings.
Category IV: Designers who are indifferent to frame and wealth. With lofty ideals and high levels of professionalism,these designers might not be star designers,but are well versed inworld architectural,urban and landscape design, and often have the most advanced design concepts. They analyze, through critical thinking,the mistakes made in the urban development of western countries,and hope not to make these same mistakes in China.They spend their time trying to talk frenzied Chinese policy-makers out of designing large street blocks,awkwardbuildings,andmade-upgardensinglamorousbutuselesscities They fight construction of broad roadsin order to avoid dependence on cars, but instead to develop bicyele and public transportation systems. They speak withpassiontoChineseurbanpolicy-makers about ecology and sustainability, as well as cultural heritage protectiorn.They ask Chinese developers to love and protect their own country, and to treat old buildings and new cities with the same respect.They hope China will start a new era and lifestyle based in green design.Beginning the 1980s,such designers and wise men have come,and then left China.They were not understood, or even misunderstood, and were asked questions such as,"Why can you Americans have high buildings,broad roads and big cars,but we Chinese cannot?"The rapidly turning wheels of big development and "modernization"grounds ruthlessly over the suggestions and designs of these types of idealistic designers,leaving behind wails and, later on, regret. "What if I had listenedto the foreign designers!"is a sentence I have heard from the Chinese mayorstime after time.Due to their ideals and uncompromising attitude,this type offoreign designer has not been able to leave many built works in China,but they have worked to change the concepts and values of Chinese policy-makers.Thanks to joint efforts made by designers and local Chinese,the question of "what is good design?" is becoming clearer. Compared to the prolific designers of theother three categories,these designers are more respectable in many ways,forthey have been promoting an ethos of a healthier land for all of China.
I respect all four types of designers,and all have played a positive role in the development of China,includingimprovements in the income and social status of Chinese designers,and the exchange and advancement of technologies. If I have unintentionally showed a disregard for some of these designers that is only because I think they were not born at the right time. Or, in other words, without the necessary taste and pursuitof quality,China as the client,was not always ready to embrace talented intemational designers.Instead of pursuing quality design in China, what is mostcurrently needed is to teach clients to appreciate good design.High quality designiswhatIhavecometoexpectmost from the foreign designers.Because ofthis,I admire in particular the foresight of designers in Category IV, the idealistic designers who are indifferent to frame andwealth.TothesedesignersIwantto raise a memorial and write biographies, for they are the most indelibly positiveforce that has contributed and promoted urban development and advancement ofthe design industry in China.(Translated by Jindong CAl)