Culture

DONG: Mix & Match

(chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2009-07-14 17:19
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If you are looking for a nice place to spend an afternoon sipping a cup of coffee and reading your favorite book, then why not try DONG.

Set among the vagabond 798 Art District, with its German Bauhaus feel, its post modern interior, and collections of some of the most pioneering artists of our time, DONG is definitely on the crest of vogue. More intriguing for true bookworms, you can enjoy your latte while sitting on a real shelf.

"The shelf is very modern itself, made of steel bars. We call it café on a bookshelf", explained Joanna Bai, Supervisor of DONG.

But this is only the first impression. If you look carefully, DONG is by no means just about lounging or modernism.

For decades, Chairman Mao has long been an idol of the Chinese people. With their deep love and respect for Mao, his granddaughter Kong Dongmei opened this café. Apart from books, gifts and souvenirs about Mao and his time, many of the items here were used at that time and then collected by Kong for display. They are NOT reproductions. Today DONG has become a place to remember not only Mao as a human being, but his spirit and all those revolutionary legends of the older generation.

But for the young like Supervisor Bai who is a post-80s, will they feel the same sort of admiration as their parents or even grandparents who have actually experienced Mao’s leadership?

"The older generation may have a complex toward it. But our generation is looking at it from a new angle. There may still be admiration, but mostly it's the taste of popular culture that makes him still shine today. I think we should present the old stuff in a new way so that it can be easily accepted by the young. And in our special way they can remember the history, and pass the good down," said Bai.

Mix & Match, this popular word in fashion still holds true when these revolutionary memories are placed in such a post modern environment. And this kind of encounter makes DONG an icon as New China heads towards it 60th birthday in October.

Never to be forgotten where we started and no matter how far we go, our roots still matter amid forces of globalization and the winds of change.

 

Script: Christie Lee

Video: Christie Lee, Ren Cong