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Wood is at the heart of his designs

Updated: 2012-12-16 10:45
By Chen Nan ( China Daily)

Wood is at the heart of his designs

Furniture designer Lu Yongzhong displays his collections at Gehua Tower in Beijing. [Zou Hong/China Daily]

When Chinese furniture designer Lu Yongzhong looked for a place to open the flagship shop for his brand, Banmoo, he didn't choose popular commercial areas and modernized buildings. Instead, he set his sights on a hundred-year-old house built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Located on the bank of Suzhou Creek in Shanghai, the building looked dusty, damp and abandoned. Outside the building is a noisy food market, which is full of crowds and vendors, with vegetable leaves and fruit peels scattered on the floor.

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"It's a place which enables me to forget about time and to observe life," says Lu, who started the brand in 2006.

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The commonplace market became Lu's inspiration of designing windows for Hermes flagship store in Beijing for 2008 winter and 2009 summer seasons.

Days of observing lives on the street stimulated the designer to use 170-meter-long wood strips crafted into "annual rings" to represent passing days and years. He also scattered 300 dots on the rings, which he calls "memory dots".

"It's a story of time and a story of memory. Like the market, people gather there and purchase food, which is part of their lives. Time can create space," he says. "Designing furniture is about designing life."

As the founder and chief designer of Banmoo, the 43-year-old has long been engaged in space and furniture design. His work reflects his respect for traditional Chinese culture and his own unique perspective on contemporary design.

His design philosophy is told through his brand name, which is composed of ban (meaning half) and mu (wood) in Chinese.

"When I think of furniture material, I want to return to the starting point, which is also my philosophy of design," he says. "Unlike the West, where stone was used as material to build houses in ancient times, wood is commonly used in China, from furniture to houses. That's our culture."

For Lu, unlike the coldness of steel and stone, wood is warm and connected with people. Different colors of wood represent the owners' personalities, as he says.

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