Tuesday, 15 July 2008

about Chinese Style

Okay, I have left China. I am out of Beijing since two weeks. I don't miss much. Maybe that I had more time for writing. But it hopefully comes again when I am more settled in my new / old life. But there are still some open posts that I need to do... e.g. about Beijing, my life in Beijing and about leaving Beijing.

Here is one of them. It is my last publication in Beijing's urbane magazine in April 2008. It is about Chinese Art Deco or Shanghai Chic with photos from interiors in Beijing and Hong Kong.

My draft goes like this:

Last century, a very decorative style developed in Shanghai during its glamorous 1930s, just before World War II. It developed at a time when Shanghai was known as the Paris of the East - synonymous with decadence, romance and glamour. This bustling town was populated with gamblers, gangsters, singsong girls, opium traders and immigrant crowds from all over China and the world. It was parallel to the development of Art Deco styles in Europe that Shanghai experienced its own Art Deco revolution, a unique fusion of Eastern and Western design.

Bright colors and dark antique furniture from the East team up with Western Art Deco elements to create the famous so called 'Shanghai Chic' style. The Art Deco’s strong horizontal and vertical elements, its decorations reduced to geometrical shapes together with Jazzy American zigzags were combined with elaborated Eastern floral carvings of petals and leaves as well as with classic Chinese patterns.

Produced only in Shanghai and for just a brief time, roughly late 1920's to late 1940's, Shanghai’s Art Deco furniture is both rare and original. However the influence on Shanghai’s architecture can still be admired in many areas of Shanghai, especially on the Bund.

Entrepreneur David Tang is a huge fan of the pre-war Shanghai style and introduced it to modern Hong Kong by launching the first China Club on the top floor of the old China Bank Building. He turned the Club into a showcase for Shanghai Chic and for what could be developed further by melding the best of Eastern and Western styles. Following his concept he founded the shop Shanghai Tang, specializing in clothing based on traditional Chinese styles of glamorous pre-war Shanghai. Shanghai Tang also offers a small selection of decorative accessories for modern households.

Now, if you feel attracted by old Shanghai style and want to add a splash of it in your home, you can paint your walls in bright lime green or mustard yellow. Alternatively, using Chinese retro pattern wallpapers, birds, braches and flowers are the most common themes in these wallpaper design. Moreover, other signature elements to create a retro feel such as old Shanghai newspapers, calendars, black and white photographs, and old Shanghai posters; especially those cigarette, alcohol and movie ad posters. In addition, an old record player and a petal shaped pendant lamp or brass fan sitting next to a set of leather club chairs is also another key look for “Shanghai Chic”.

This was my draft. The version in the magazine was edited, of course, and shorter.

The pictures used in the article are one private interior in Beijing. And a corner of the China Club in Hong Kong.

I will show them again here and some more related to Shanghai style:

Shanghai Style in private residence in Beijing - source unknown

China Club in Hong Kong via 'China Style' by Sharon Leece photo by Michael Freeman

I love the atmosphere of the restaurant in the China Club in Hong Kong - via 'China Style' by Sharon Leece photo by Michael Freeman

'Pudong' Club Chair by Shanghai Deco company

Salt and Pepper by Shanghai Tang

Silver plated photo frame by Shanghai Tang.
It shows the typical Shanghainese deco mix of western Jazzy zigzag and Chinese ornaments.

And last but not least, some Shanghai poster girls at the weekend market (Panjiayuan) in Beijing.



I am thankful that I had the chance to become a regular contributor to urbane magazine in Beijing. It was an easy co-operation and a great experience! It will be much more difficult to find some similar job back here in Germany with no journalism education. But, now I have at least some references...


Wendy said...

I had lunch at the China Club in Hong Kong several years back. I don't remember what I ate but I do remember the surroundings. Lovely.

Pecos Blue said...

Wow what amazing pictures and I really enjoyed your article. First time here so I am catching up. Good luck with the move.

Qi said...

Stumbled across your blog on Google, love it. Being born and brought up there, you stories always triggered my memory of this city. Looking forward to your new posts.

laradunston said...

Hi Suzie - I have linked to you from a post on Beijing Insider Guides!
I'm wondering if you're missing Beijing a little now and wishing you were there for the Olympics? The Opening Ceremony was just divine, wasn't it?

- Suzie - said...

I LOVE the CHINA CLUB in Hong Kong.
When I was working in HK in 2001, a friend invited me over to the China Club for lunch. I do not remember what I ate, right, but I remember many details of the interiors of the different levels and rooms. The view from the blacony is fantastic, and I have friends who just spent NYE there... envy....


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