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Jewelry box design helps to shape country's future

By CAO YIN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-09 08:59
Hou Zhanying, craft designer from Beijing Orafi Jewelry and an NPC deputy [Photo/China Daily]

Hou Zhanying is new to the National People's Congress, as it is her first time attending such a high-level political event. But when it comes to designing national presents, she is an old hand.

Her product, a jewelry box made with traditional crafts, was one of the national gifts given to foreign guests at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in May.

National gifts are diplomatic formalities in international affairs. "Designing such a gift is a challenge, as it is the combination of traditions and fashion. And now it should be useful," said Hou, 35, an NPC deputy from Beijing Orafi Jewelry, part of Beijing Gongmei Group, an enterprise that designs traditional crafts.

At the end of 2016, the group began designing official gifts for the forum. After several competitions with other design companies, its six works-including Hou's jewelry box-won.

"I couldn't count how many times I revised my design within six months. I often locked myself in my office and sometimes I even forgot to go to the toilet," she said, laughing.

"But I enjoyed the design process, though it was lonely."

The box is designed as an ancient flower window, with a Chinese rose carved in the middle of its cover.

"The rose is the theme of my design. It is very Chinese and the flower of Beijing," she said.

The idea for the design came from one of her childhood photos taken at the Summer Palace, she said.

"I noticed a flower window inside when I saw the picture, and I realized I could try it in my design."

Hou, who was good at drawing when she was young, gradated from Beijing Union University in 2006 and joined Beijing Gongmei Group.

At first, she mainly managed medals and trophies. But the company's goals have changed.

"As our country's soft power increases, our group has changed its design ideas," she said, adding she now pays more attention to the design of traditional crafts.

"When we mention traditional crafts, some people often think about vases and carves (types of jars), but actually more fashionable products can be combined with that, which I believe is a trend in the industry," she said.

Twelve years after engaging in design, she has a new challenge-being an NPC deputy.

She suggested the country increase efforts to educate designers in traditional crafts and add related classes at schools.

"Children are the future. The more we understand the art the better for us to protect and inherit it," she said.

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