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Paris fair shows how Chinese blend tradition with modernity

By Ming Liu For China Daily | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-04 07:07

Paris fair shows how Chinese blend tradition with modernity

A carbon fiber chair designed by Chinese firm Shang Xia. Photo provided to China Daily

It was a sense of discovery and learning that recently permeated a room in Paris during a panel discussion about Chinese contemporary design. Held at Asia Now, a rare European fair dedicated to contemporary Asian art, the discussion was anchored around one of the fair's exhibitors Shang Xia - a Chinese contemporary design firm that is co-owned by French luxury house Hermes.

The panel comprised three experts - Jiang Qionger, Shang Xia's co-founder and artistic director; Geraldine Lenain, international director of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art at auction house Christie's; and collector Dominque Levy - and was held on the eve of the preview of Asia Now.

The fair, in its second edition, and which ran over Oct 19-23, was one of the many satellite fairs around Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain, a contemporary art fair that every autumn attracts global collectors to the "city of light".

Shang Xia and Christie's jointly showed 12 of the design firm's pieces that had not been seen before.

The exhibition, Light Is More, highlighted the ethos of the Chinese firm, which aims to take Chinese techniques and materials and fuse them with 21st-century design.

Shang Xia literally means "up, down", signaling the movement from past to present to future, but also, as Jiang says: "It is a philosophy of two opposites - and how to bring them together in harmony and balance."

Light Is More, says Jiang, is to "take craftsmanship in contemporary design, and merge it with real functionality and modernity that correspond to life today. The result is lightness, purity, simplicity, comfort and an emotional touch".

She refers to her porcelain echo bowls, on display at Asia Now, which are less than 0.5 millimeters thick and made in kilns at 1,200 C. The pieces can take up to two months to create, and come in a range of ethereal-like glazes, or in a striking red or black print. Ultrathin and delicate, it's the next generation of this beloved, ancient Chinese material, she says.

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