Objects of Desire: Crafted with Narrative and a Cultural Heart
By Jason Au
Reflecting upon Chinese culture and civilization often evokes impressions and imagery of places and things that are old and historic. The architecturally oriented may think of the meandering path traced by the Great Wall or the majestic gates and courtyards of the Forbidden City. Others with an interest in textiles and clothing may visualize images of traditional dress come to mind in the form of cheongsam, sometimes made with silk adorned with intricate floral embroidery and distinctive knot buttons. Equally universal in its imagery are the imperial blue and white colours that characterize porcelain ‘Jingdezhen’ ceramics which the “western” world often eponymously refers to as ‘China’.
China’s emergence as a relevant party on the international economic and political stage has permitted its softer, cultural legacies to garner increased attention around the world. Within that context, modern Chinese designers and artists incorporate traditional Chinese design in varying degrees, either closely sticking with tradition or creating modern interpretations of old ideas and concepts. Through their work, Chinese design concepts have been resuscitated with new life, removed from the shadows of orientalism and into the spotlight for consideration by a truly global and mainstream audience.