Jumping He's Daydream (Hesign Press) contains such a wealth of innovative content and is crafted with such devotion, invention and delight, it feels like a one-of-a-kind artist's opus rather than a limited-edition monograph.
Hesign was established in Berlin in 2002. In 2007, a branch of Hesign opened in Hangzhou, China. Jumping He is devoted to publishing, poster design, space design and curation—and this is the focus of his intricately conceptualized work and the book Daydream. Known for an international perspective and a dedication to design and cultural undertakings, the designer Kenya Hara writes that "He is a designer who exhibits both European sophistication and a sense of space nurtured by China's landscapes. He works from Berlin, but I don't know why …"
Jianping (Jumping) He received a BFA in graphic design at the China Academy of Art in 1995, then studied fine arts under Heinz Jürgen Kristahn at the Berlin University of the Arts, where he became a master's student in 2001. In 2011 he did his doctorate in cultural history at the Free University of Berlin.
He taught at the Berlin University of the Arts from 2001–2008, and worked as a visiting professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University as well as a professor for doctoral students at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou from 2006–2019. He is designer, publisher and entrepreneur. And now, the book . . .
Sadly, these photographs do not do Daydream justice. One must hold it, caress it for its tactile impeccability, and savor the craftsmanship and uniqueness of the form. It must be used, not put on a pedestal.
Every page is cut with a deckle edge that gives it a rough-hewn exciting physical sensation. Yet although the book is five inches wide and looks like a brick, it is light to the touch. The book's generous 689 uncoated pages are printed in various ways—black and white, full color and using metallic and fluorescent inks; there are inserts and tissue paper foldouts and popups. Mini fluorescent Post-it stickers serve as tabs for the different thematic sections.
These sections contain examples of his own impressive work—posters, typography, book designs and more, which are punctuated by dozens of narrative essays by admirers and friends, as well as a biographical interview.
The reader—and don't be fooled by its graphic flourishes; Daydream is designed to be read—learns that He began his studies as a classical calligrapher when he learned "the five shades of ink," which led him to the basics of graphic design. He was motivated to leave China for Germany because, he notes, "In a planned economy, the society needs no design. When the society shifts from a planned economy to a free market in which design is necessary, a graphic designer gets busier and reaches a higher social status." For He, "China is so big that in many areas, nobody knows what design is."
This book may be a daydream of design but it is also a tactile realization of how much design Jumping He gives to the world.