Michele Koh Morollo speaks to Jiang Qiong Er, CEO of China’s first homegrown luxury brand at Business of Design Week.
1 December, 2011
Shang Xia is the ’designed in China’ sub-brand of Hermès, but Jiang Qiong Er says her label is not just a localisation of the French luxury fashion giant. Instead it is a celebration of the spirit of the Orient with firm roots in Chinese fine arts.
Store in Shanghai
What does Shang Xia mean and why did you decide on this name?
Shang means ’up’ and xia means ’down’ in Mandarin. These 2 words express the philosophy of life being a balance between 2 opposites or extremes. Life is composed of female and male, day and night, sun and moon, sky and earth, nature and man, urban and rural, private and social, positive and negative, etc. Happiness, I believe is where we find the middle ground. With Shang Xia, I aim to share this lifestyle of equilibrium with others.
Gong fu teapot with hand carved bamboo
Pass it On Box
How has experiencing so many different cultures shaped the way you work today?
It adds a broader dimension to my work. It’s also helped me better understand different and thus respect traditional artistic styles – both Eastern and Western – more. My family history is anchored in the Chinese arts; through continual exposure to all fields of art, I developed a greater appreciation for my own culture. As I learned more about Chinese art and craftsmanship, I was moved by the power and beauty of my heritage. This became the impetus for the birth of Shang Xia.
Chair from the Da Tian Di collection
A traditional wooden loom
Where do you think China stands in terms of art and design?
With the last 30 years spent on economic development, our next step is cultural growth. The creative industry is very active in China; it’s like a garden where every flower is growing. But it’s a wild garden. Unlike France or Italy where there is a developed system of practice, in China, most designers are making trendy objects or trying too hard to be avant-garde. I feel that we need to do more to revive and express our own Chinese culture and traditions, for there is much elegance in the tried and true. I think Chinese designers still have a long way to go, and in the meantime, events like Business of Design Week are a great platform for us to learn from other nationalities, communicate with industry professionals and grow both as artists and professionals.
Mongolian inspired felt garment from the Sculpture collection
Mongolian cashmere from the Cloud collection
Business of Design Week is currently being held in Hong Kong. The event brings together innovative thinkers and business leaders from around the globe to discuss a broad range of 21st century challenges in design, technology and brand management.
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