This paper discusses ways of fostering people-to-people connections in the creative industries between Australia and China, through a series of multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural workshops and exhibitions in both countries to engage creative practitioners and companies to foster partnerships and to increase cultural awareness amongst students in the areas of arts, design and health. Not only is China a leading exporter in the global market, it is also a rising importer of cultural products and services. A burgeoning middle class is boosting up creative consumption. China’s government is shifting its policy focus from “made in China” to “created in China”. As a result, Chinese governments and industries are actively engaging overseas partners for collaboration to pursue a new configuration of value.
With the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Australian creative practitioners are well placed to engage with China specifically in the area of design for health and the aged population. An imbalanced ageing population is a growing concern not only in China but also globally and designers are well placed to create new design solutions to address concerns in the area of care services, urban environments and products for healthy ageing. However, the lack of knowledge about local language, culture and business practice presents a major barrier for Western companies and students to reach the potential of Chinese opportunities. To address this barrier, this paper reflects on a series of workshops and exhibitions via a partnership between the UC Cross-Cultural Design Lab, Cheung Kong School of Art and Design, the South China Agricultural University, South China Normal University, Guangxi Arts University, Shantou University, and Monash University. Another layer of the workshop program is connecting Australian and Chinese creative practitioners with students and practitioners in the area of Health Sciences. This type of multi-disciplinary collaboration can bring about new knowledge and understanding of each other’s’ respective cultures and give them skills on how to work together effectively from the perspective of different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. The ultimate goal of this paper is to introduce ways of working between cultures to create objects, designed environments and new services that will be of value to a global audience to stimulate new areas of creative production between cultures.