We didn’t know what to expect from 1506 Creative City (1506CC)—including what the name even meant. But as soon as we got off the bus, we were rushed into a tour of a cultural “park” where we soon figured out what we were into. For being something I had no ability to anticipate, I would say that this was one of my favorite visits of the week. We saw real Chinese culture and amazing art—both past and present—and were treated like CEO’s for the day.
1506CC is involved in commercial real estate. Specifically, they take unused warehouses and factories and turn them into commercial property, all with a creative bend. Their style smacks of modern art and forward-thinking business, along with a strong sense of nationalism and history. In Foshan, they currently have two locations: one of which is an artists’ park, the other is a business park. The headliners of the artists’ park were the Dragon Kilns that were built in 1506 (thus the name). These kilns were used for firing ceramics and are functional as they are being restored. The park also includes recreated homes from the era and several artists on staff displaying the ancient art form. The rest of the park balanced the ancient with the modern and really brought Chinese art culture to life. There is also a large artists’ market built out of an old warehouse where if you could think of it, someone had made it out of ceramics, and would sell it to you.
At the business park, we were hosted by the VP of Operations who gave us the opportunity to give ideas and advice for attracting tenants. We are obviously not even close to experts, but hopefully we gave some useful insight. The park is intended to attract businesses—with special attention to non-Chinese businesses—in the majority of the floor space while restaurants and shopping outlets fill the street level storefronts. In line with their core philosophy, a majority of the businesses upstairs are creative agencies to some degree. The park was beautiful and inspiring. Just like its sister park, it was filled with art and culture. The difference being that what was once a block of factories, it is now a thriving center of office jobs, shopping, and polish restaurants.
I think the overall experience in Foshan showed me how modern business is in China. The only thing I could compare it to in the States would be ad agency headquarters I’d seen in NYC. The group is proud of being Chinese, of being open to do business with the world, and for being edgy and creative.