Huangbian Bag
projects & works
International Village Shop

shows & archive
Times Museum Guangzhou
Whitechapel Gallery, London UK

Huangbian Bag  (ENG)
Portable and Hidden Land-Use

Times Museum Guangzhou – 2017 residency #1 - International Village Produce - Banyan Commune #4


The design of the Huangbian Bag is based on observations and oral history gathered in the streets of the Urban Village of Huangbian in Guangzhou, China. Endless workshops, new skills and export-production have settled on the village land in the past two decades. Nowadays, the local street life shows no visible heritage of land-use. It is all hidden and covered by concrete; not even a square metre of land is used for primary industries. Villagers are landlords now, and workshops have sprung up on the farmland and mining sites. Rural migrants from elsewhere fill the streets as they go to work, and chat in Mandarin around the pond. Day after day, they repair cars and bikes, and produce endless flows of shoes, clothes and bags. Their rural heritage is mental and portable, since they had to leave their homeland and go where the labour is. Everybody is on the move, crossing the streets with basic personal belongings like smartphones, keys and wallets; ladies also like to carry a small umbrella, tissues and make-up in their bags. Our street-advisors have strong opinions on what is important when you design a lady’s bag. So we go for that and create a classic and practical design. However, the inside of the Huangbian Bag features two icons of local history: when you open it, you see an embroidered row of the former coal-mining trolleys and the fruit and leaves of the JiXinShi persimmon tree. Huangbian was well-known for this seedless fruit in past centuries. Some say that the dragon that ate the seeds still lives beneath the village.

The bag is produced from high-quality black top leather (outside). The soft lambskin leather on the inside is the colour of grey minestone. A classic bag made by skilled workers in Huangbian. (And some migrants pointed out that in small rural places you do not need a handbag ... ).

There is a 25 min documentary film available, that shows the design and production process of the Huangbian Bag (directors Wapke Feenstra and Yuan Shaofei).