'New Chinese style' enriches brands, goods, life

By HE QI in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-09-30 08:23
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A view of the kitchen of Pan Lingfei's house. As an architect and interior designer, Pan and his wife have designed their home in Shanghai with traditional elements in a new Chinese style. CHINA DAILY

Interior design

Architect Pan Lingfei shares Yang's view, saying more and more thoughtful designers have emerged in recent years.

Pan, an architect and interior designer born in the 1980s, and his wife integrated the new Chinese style designs into their home in Shanghai, which Pan personally designed.

Pan "dug out" circular doors for the two bedrooms, giving the 90-square-meter home a traditional courtyard while creating a green plant corner with a view of mountains, lakes and stones.

"I really like the classical gardens of Suzhou, especially the Yipu Garden. Every time I visit the garden, I like to walk back and forth between the double round holes. Professional habits make me sensitive to the atmosphere composed of plants, light and shade, houses, courtyards and round holes," Pan said.

Pan said a modern commercial apartment could induce a sense of disconnect among family members once the bedroom doors are closed. But in ancient China, family members could sense the movements of others through the windows, lighting candles and kerosene lamps in quadrangle dwellings. Therefore, he installed some sliding doors across the living and dining rooms to maintain privacy and yet be able to sense the presence of family members.

"Indeed, I look forward to a 'sheng xi xiang wen' (a term from ancient Chinese poetry that refers to feeling and keeping in touch with each other) home scene," said Pan.

"I think many discussions on the new Chinese style in the market are superficial, but now there are more and more excellent and thoughtful designers emerging," Pan said.

He said there is a crop of designers emerging from art students who chose design as an elective subject merely to get a bonus score in the college entrance examination. Such self-styled designers lack depth in their thinking as well as basic design knowledge, he alleged.

"A great designer needs not just inspiration and artistic cells but logical reasoning ability and a deep understanding of history and literature. But more talented designers are starting to explore the inherent beauty of Chinese style to integrate it into contemporary design," he said.

Cai Liechao, a furniture designer famous for the "Grid Lighting" series, might be one such thoughtful designer.

From 2017 to 2019, Cai was honored as a cutting-edge designer at Stockholm Design Week and Maison&Objet in Paris. In the past two years, his works have been favored by the market. He collaborated with furniture brands in Italy and Canada, and has participated in major design and furniture exhibitions such as Ambiente Talents in Frankfurt and May Design Series and 100% Design in London.

According to Cai, his works are inspired not by ideas but by the construction of traditional objects — which is not a rigid imitation of Chinese elements — and by drawing new ideas from the perspective of functionality and deconstruction.

The Mazha Lighting System was inspired by the structure of the traditional Chinese "mazha" seat and the Lantern lighting series, including pendant lamps, desk lamps and floor lamps, were inspired by ancient Chinese portable lanterns.

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