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White-Collars seek opportunities in hutong | Updated: 2011-03-02 15:17

They wear business attire, go in and out of high-rise office buildings and attend dazzling parties, but more white-collar workers are succumbing to ever-increasing work pressure, poor health, shrinking pay and unchanging lives.

White-Collars seek opportunities in hutong 

 A photo taken on Feb 27, 2011 shows Liu Lianggong's ceramics store in Wudaoying Hutong in Beijing. [Photo: Guo Jing]

After several years of struggling, some of them have decided to give up their seemingly enviable jobs and concentrate on what they are really interested in.

Liu Lianggong, an ad designer, made up his mind to change his life which was full of business trips, negotiations and a drab daily routine after working 10 years for an advertisement company.

A few months ago, Liu opened his own store "Ciqi-er"-meaning confidant-in Wudaoying Hutong, a quiet shopping alleyway in central Beijing, where he sells self-designed porcelain goods.

He was recently lucky enough to find a partner with similar experience and interest when Shang Wu, a consultant, joined his business.

In the 30-square-meter store, you can find both traditional tea sets and modern porcelain pieces all designed by Liu himself.

Liu calls his works "white-fat" because his creations, which include fish, rabbits, and frogs, are much fatter than regular figurines. And he paints them on plain white ceramic.

The most colorful works Liu has designed are inspired by Popobe Bear, an unadorned bear model that people can paint whatever designs they like. But Liu's bears are shorter and fatter and have no ears.

On the unique and fashionable bear, Liu paints traditional Chinese patterns such as Peking opera facial makeup and blue-and-white porcelain patterns.

Once when a reporter from a local TV station asked Liu to paint a design on a bear on the spot as a part of the program, Liu refused to oblige.

"I usually spend three to five days painting one bear," he said. "Art needs time to be created and polished."

As several traditional alleyways in old Beijing have been transformed into shopping streets to attract thousands of tourists from home and abroad, Liu chose Wudaoying as the site of his shop.

"I like the tranquil and peaceful atmosphere here," Liu said. "I have visited some shopping alleys such as Yandaixiejie and Nanluoguxiang Hutong. They are like supermarkets, not places for art."

Amid constant financial and mental stress, office workers like Liu have begun seeking peace, tranquility and pure art which have been unattainable for them for a long time. Wudaoying Hutong is a good destination for white-collar workers to relax and enjoy, whether they own shops there or are busy at work in office buildings.

Most of the shopkeepers in Wudaoying Hutong are foreigners and white-collar workers.

"All the shop owners in the alley have reached a consensus in this regard," Liu said. "We just want to maintain this tranquility and avoid being the next Nanluoguxiang."

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