01 | These pictures show the exhibition of Qin 親 [hello friend] as part of GEO–DESIGN: Alibaba.From Here To Your Home at the Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, NL, 2018. The centred table displays research fragments specific to the iPhone 7Plus as case-study object of the research, including an iPhone 7Plus made from scratch at the markets. The table is surrounded by a wall-projection of animated 3D scans, voice-over and subtitles of interviews with Huaqiangbei Market shop-owners, photographic prints of selected scans presented as walk-through-essay, large graphic print visualising the second lifecycle of returned iPhones. Photography by Peter Cox.


How have online e-commerce platforms affected multinational trade at the traditional locations of offline or b2b markets?

This work looks at the relation between the e-commerce trade network Alibaba and the largest centre for electronics worldwide, the Huaqiangbei Electronic Markets of Shenzhen. The smartphone was chosen as case-study object to narrow the scope of research into trade culture along smartphone component retail, refurbishment and redistribution.

Conversations with local shop owners were initiated while purchasing each singular component needed to assemble one iPhone 7Plus; Mentioned by shop owners as most easiest-to-assemble phone on the Huaqiangbei markets at the time of research, September 2018. The name Qin 親 [hello friend] entered the work through initial Alibaba chat conversations with smartphone component suppliers. The conversations commonly started with Hi friend, dear friend, Qin 親.

The findings of Qin 親 were exhibited as multimedia installation within the show GEO–DESIGN: Alibaba.From Here To Your Home. The installation was composed of a large-scale graphic mapping on the global 2nd lifecycle of iPhones through the Huaqiangbei Electronic Markets, a series of printed 3D scans depicting context specific research fragments, a video projection of animated 3D scans and interviews with local shop owners, a centred low table with material deconstructions and the assembled iPhone 7Plus, displaying its own assembly as looped video.

Commissioned and supported by the Design Academy Eindhoven in collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL, 2018.

Co-funded by The Creative Industries Fund NL, 2018.

Exhibited within GEO–DESIGN: Alibaba.From Here To Your Home at the Van Abbemuseum, curation by Martina Muzi and Joseph Grima, Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven, NL, 2018.

Exhibited within GEO–DESIGN: Alibaba. From Here To Your Home, curation by Martina Muzi and Joseph Grima, during Salone del Mobile, Milano, IT, 2019.

Credits: Christopher Hoi Wong (Translation, SZ, CN), Li Liao (Network, SZ, CN), David Li (Network, SZ, CN), Vicky Xie (Network, SZ, CN), Mr. Liang (Repairshop, HQB, SZ, CN), Mr. Li (Repairshop, HQB, SZ, CN) Li X. (iPhone Dealer, SZ, CN), Lisa (iPhone Components, HQB, SZ, CN), Lily (iPhone Components, HQB, SZ, CN), Amy (HQB - Alibaba, SZ, CN), Mily (HQB - Alibaba, SZ, CN), Richard (Guangzhou - Alibaba, SZ, CN), Jessica (HQB - Alibaba, SZ, CN), Ally (HQB - Alibaba, SZ, CN), Yasir (Repairshop, Den Haag, NL), Marek (3D technology, US)


02 | Smartphone 3D scan of stacked and displayed 2nd-hand iPhone 7Plus back-covers at the Huaqiangbei Electronic Markets, Shenzhen, CN, 2018.


03 | The re-assembled Huaqiangbei iPhone (total costs €260,-) displayed a video of its own assembly within the exhibition space. Within four hours all components were sourced from the local markets with the help of translator Christopher Hoi Wong. Repair shop owner Mr. Liang directly assembled the pieces together into a perfectly working phone. The iPhone model 7Plus was chosen, because it has been on the markets for two years and was the most convenient iPhone model to find in the recycling markets, Huaqiangbei, Shenzhen, CN, 2018.


04 | 1st [above] and 2nd edition [below] of a graphic visualising the flow of returned iPhones, cycling back to Shenzhen for reuse, repair, refurbishment and more. The map is based on informant and Hong Kong-Huaqiangbei dealer Mr. Li X. in Shenzhen, who receives second-hand ware iPhones and components and provides these to the Huaqiangbei Electronic Markets, Shenzhen, CN, 2018.

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05 | Exhibition space of Qin 親 [hello friend] fitted with antistatic electronics packaging foam at GEODESIGN: Alibaba. From Here to Your Home. during Salone del Mobile, Milano, IT, 2019.