In this episode of The Negotiation podcast, we are joined by Kirsten Johnston, Founder and CEO of JWDK, a brand design firm specializing in cultural and place identity in China. An expert in place branding, Kirsten has consulted for some of the most influential properties in Mainland China. Based in Shanghai, Kirsten also serves as the Vice Chair of BritCham Shanghai.
In our conversation with Kirsten, we get to learn more about her work in place branding for some of China’s most notable landmarks. We discuss the importance of understanding human behavior and cultural identity in placemaking and place branding, and the need to adapt international models to fit local contexts. Kirsten also shares case studies of her work with Rockbund, a community space in Shanghai, as well as other projects across Mainland China. We finish our conversation by exploring what makes a great design and some of the mistakes made that result in what she considers poorly designed places. Enjoy!
Topics Discussed and Key Points:
● Place branding.
● The evolution of design and branding.
● Consumer trends and placemaking.
● Rapid urban development in China and its impact on town planning and real estate investment.
● The creation of “ghost malls” that remain empty in China.
● Xintiandi and al fresco dining in Shanghai.
● Elements that make places work in the physical sense: human scale, intimacy, and walkability.
● Chinese developments and walkability.
● Human behavior in public spaces, the safety zone., and how people maneuver within spaces.
● Shanghai’s Rockbund.
● The differences between engaging with Chinese companies and international companies.
● The change in workspace design due to the pandemic.