TULIP PYRAMID
Jing He

The famous Flower Pyramid, part of the Rijksmuseum’s archive, seems to be a seventeenth-century Dutch invention. However, its form refers to the Chinese pagoda and its motifs derive from those on Chinese porcelain. Jing He undertook a very personal and intensive research to figure out how she, as a young Chinese designer, had been shaped by various influences. The journey led to surprising insights, an informative booklet, and designs with many layers of meanings. Jing He: “I began this project to continue the process of replicating and transforming which is the history of Tulip Pyramid. I wanted to explore the question of ‘creativity in copying’ and the question of identity. If a Tulip Pyramid were to be imitated nowadays in China – a country which is a mixture of common and private ownership, of collectivism and individualism, troubled by the issue of counterfeiting and appropriating intellectual property – what would the result be?”

She invited three young Chinese designers, one artist, and one craftsman to reflect on their shared Chinese culture and the history of imitation and innovation. Each of them designed two layers of the new pyramid, all executed in different techniques from traditional crafts to high tech media. Together they claim ownership of the final product, as can be seen on iPhone in the top, which shows all the collaborators.

“I see myself as a Tulip Pyramid. My origins are in China and I’ve been transformed in the Netherlands into the person I currently am. My education in the Netherlands (first at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, subsequently at Design Academy Eindhoven) gave me a new perspective on design. I used my personal experience to ask questions about mass-production and embedded it in a design discourse on originality, authenticity, and copying. For a second pyramid, I imitated and made a collage of references of famous Dutch designers’ iconic works, which I merged with my own former works. Thus I could question the influence of these designers and the educational institutions which have formed me into who I am today. On the top a 3D print of my head claims personal authorship.”

Jing He’s graduation from Eindhoven’s Masters programme in Contextual Design was the starting point of an unfinished long-term project, of which she says, ‘I expect the project might one day develop into a project fit for mass-production.’


The Tulip Pyramid was crafted after Flower pyramid, De Metaale Pot, c. 1692 - c.1700, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

Tulip Pyramid was a collaboration with:Rongkai He  贺荣凯,Cheng Guo 郭城 , Weiyi Li 李维伊, Dangdang Xing  邢当当 , Dawei Yang  杨大威 


Graduation project, 2016

www.he-jing.com/

read thesis ↓

read thesis ↓

The Tulip Pyramid
Copy and Identity (2016) was originally written as a thesis report for a research project concerning copying and cultural identity, and accompanied the design project Tulip Pyramid. Both the design project and the thesis were part of Jing He's graduation from Contextual Design (MA) at Design Academy Eindhoven in 2016.

Jing He: Tulip Pyramid – Copy and Identity, Design Academy Eindhoven, 82 pag., 15 euro
To order her book, please send an email to books@designacademy.nl