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China is evolving faster and more dramatically than any other society on earth. It has the largest population and the fastest growing economy, conditions that will propel over 900,000,000 people into a new Chinese middle class over the next decade. This social migration, combined with a need for more productive agriculture, better healthcare and education have set the stage for a new era of development in China. CHIC Group, one of China’s leading companies with a strong focus on agriculture and food marketing, engaged IDEAS to help it conceive, design and develop a new town on the Yangtze River 40 kilometers south of the city of Chongqing.

Chongqing District, has a population of over 30 million people and is the spearhead of China’s effort to develop its Western regions. CHIC’s new “Eco-Town”, Harmony, is blessed by ten kilometers of riverfront on the Yangtze on 6,500 acres of hillside and gently rolling country. Harmony is an “exurb” where a new generation will live, work and play with more space, more fresh air, less crowd and a general sense of “exhale” and relaxation while preserving their urban connections and amenities and the vitality of the thriving Chongqing spirit. With wellness, educational, residential, tourism and business elements married carefully, Harmony is a lifestyle system, not a “land development”.

We had a team in China for a week of intense discovery followed by the first day of StoryJam™, our proprietary design-thinking system. Upon return to the U.S., a second StoryJam session brought together architects, designers, urban planners and marketers to help give the CHIC story with a Western audience. We then used our brandRing™ methodology to create what became the Harmony brand, including competitive audits, brand structure, a 7-point brand charter and a complete naming and identity system.

We then developed a suite of media and communication tools for the web, social media and main-stream television, assisting CHIC in attracting global investors and partners in healthcare, education and tourism. After that we created an Experience Design to inform the project program as it moves from early land-use master planning to vertical development.

Click HERE to read the blog from our time in Shanghai as well as see photos and click below to learn more about the project.