Are there common characteristics among these exhibits?
They are quotidian objects as we may use them everyday. For commonplace things, a take-it-for-granted attitude prevails. They are close yet faraway: we use them without much thinking.
They are mostly inexpensive, trivial items from the market, and seldom being projected as objects of desire (through ideology agents such as advertising).
For best or worst, they are usually referred to as objects / things. Yet one cannot say they are not designs. If they could belong to a genre, they might be lesser designs, by anonymous designers.
Consider some widely seen and used objects in Hong Kong, say, a paper-lucky-motto, a RedWhiteBlue bag/canvas, a folding stool, a dim-sum counting slip, a coloured-strips signpost, and a pawn shop signboard - traditionally in wood, now with a neon-light version. Each of them is ONE design but with many a paraphrases. The signboard of Cheung's pawn shop is basically identical to that of Lee's pawn shop; the similar type of RedWhiteBlue bags, as the same case as folding stools, are widely produced by different manufacturers; and dim-sum counting slips of many a restaurants are based on one design concept.
The anonymity of origin and unidentified designers coupled
with immense (stylistic /functional)
appropriation or copying, it gradually turned into collective creations. Each is not an object per se,
but has become the epitome of the object, an iconic object of itself. It becomes the archetype of a
design. When searching for the synonymy of the word archetype, these words come up: model, epitome,
prototype, standard, prime example, original, classic.