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September 27, 2009

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Designer couple finds urban idyll

IT'S a fine morning in the city. Designer Wang Yang leans back in a chair in her stylish apartment and sips a satisfying tea. It may be the perfect picture of urban living today.

This new apartment is tucked away on the very busy Wuzhong Road. "I never enjoyed living in the city center that much, with the very bad traffic and high energy levels.

"I chose this one because it is far from the central district but in a convenient location, so it is relatively peaceful. And it receives enough light," Wang said.

As interiors partnerships go, you can't get much better than a designer with vision and a hands-on interior decorator. When that partnership happens to be a wife and husband team doing up their own place, the result is obvious.

With only two months, the creative couple used their talents to transform a 140-square-meter two-bedroom apartment into a chic, light and livable family home for three.

"My husband is familiar with all the materials and textures and I'm in charge of the overall style," Wang said. "My first thought was to create a space with a strong visual impact. But in the end, we still wanted a practical, comfortable home to suit our lives and our family."

Now, from the moment you step inside, it's clear this is a temple of creativity, given a sense of coherence with mostly white walls, new classic furniture and black wood floors throughout. The striking black-and-white scheme is powerful; it is strong but simple and timeless.

All the rooms are sparsely decorated with clean-lined, tailor-made white furniture. "In a not-so-big city flat, go for white, be it the walls, ceiling or furniture. It works wonders and makes the space look rommier," she said.

"Painting most of the furniture the same color as the walls, it will begin to blend in to the room and widen out the room. I add some details by stenciling in a design or accent onto the furniture."

The husband's skill is evident with appropriate and feel-good materials everywhere. But it's Wang who is very much in charge of how things look and she's really stamped the place with personality, as her living room and bedroom walls show.

The vertical striped patterns covering single focus walls in each room instantly add a whimsical, cutting-edge visual impact and drastically alter the look and feel of the space.

It took much of the time and effort for Wang to find right colors and funky stripe patterns for each room. Besides the dramatic effect, the impact wallpapers are also a reflection of Wang's creative personality.

To match the moss green-colored striped walls in the living room, Wang also tailor made the sofa sets covered with striped fabrics in similar style and color. The result: an interior that is bold, original and full of surprises.

A library wall in the living room was also Wang's idea ?? a place for books and also her collection of arty objects, such as the antique photos bought from Germany.

The purpose-built shelves were essential when it came to housing the large collection of books, she said.

The open living, dining and kitchen room spans the width of the house. The living area opens onto the dining area and the kitchen. The kitchen units manage to be sleek and minimal, but also roomy and useful.

For Wang, a contemporary home design doesn't allow much room for clutter or items with fussy carved details. "Less is more" seems her underlying rule for interior decoration.

However, on shelves, sideboards or walls, carefully chosen objects and old art pieces have been artfully arranged to catch the eye.

They include historic photographs, European copperplates from the 16th century and porcelain pieces found during her stay in Germany as well as her own collection of design pieces.

"I'm not a big fan of small items. Quality and uniqueness is important, and buying things that I'll keep for a long while is essential for me," Wang said.

The homeowner managed to express her ideas and talent in the flat and her own design makes a chic, modern display.

"Years of working and living in Europe helped me form a diversified and open-minded design philosophy," she said.

"I try to communicate my traditional Oriental essence and modern lifestyle through Western fashion and extravagance.

"I founded my brand 'YAANG' in 2007 and my design expresses my unique philosophy and taste."

On display is a stainless steel tea table in a cutting-edge shape, double-happiness thermo, the brass candelabrum, and a stunningly designed mirror in the bathroom.

The one she is most proud of is the thermo, which is an aesthetic product with Chinese tag. This common item is given totally new visualization thanks to extremely modern materials.

New wave stars on display

Yang Di

Design aficionados might still remember the first 100percent Design Shanghai last June, with its stunning bamboo scaffolding installation and internationally renowned attendees such as Artemide, Cassina, Innermost, Technogym and Shanghai-based Neri & Hu.

From October 15 to 17, 100percent Design Shanghai and International Home Decor and Design 2009 will unveil yet another inspirational installation to welcome the new gathering of international and local design leaders in the city.

Crystallized-Swarovski Elements, the fair's main sponsor, will collaborate with the exhibition's creative directors, Tobias Wong and Aric Chen, to transform the entrance hall with a crystal matrix formed by Points of Light.

Visitors to the Shanghai Exhibition Center will see the latest designs of furniture, lighting, bathroom, kitchen and floor and wall coverings from established names like Christofle, Hastens, Kohler, Established & Sons, Moooi, Poliform and Tom Dixon.

Winning pieces

Joining the leading items this year will be eight winning pieces by designers from the inaugural "Designed in China: The Rado Young Design Prize.''

This prize was conceived with the future of the industry in mind, according to Jane Bai, vice president of Rado China.

"We seek to actively promote exceptional talent in the field of contemporary design and to contribute in various ways to the education of tomorrow's talents in China,'' she said.

The competition was judged by an international panel of design industry professionals such as Alasdhair Willis, CEO of Established & Sons, Giulio Cappellini, creative director of Cappellini, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, co-founders of Neri & Hu Design, Research Office and Design Republic.

The jurors selected these designs based on functionality and innovation and the eight winners were selected from 250 entries. Their innovative designs will be on display at the exhibition.

In addition, there will be a display of five specially commissioned, experimental designs by some of China's most cutting-edge architects.

Address: Shanghai Exhibition Center, 1000 Yan'an Rd M.

Who is she?

Gloria Leung

Tell us about some of your works and name one you are most proud of.

Since 2007, over 10 series of PanPanDaDa (the panda figure) have been launched. Panpan and Dada are two panda figures, the female called Panpan which in Chinese means "wish" and the male called Dada which means "reach" in Chinese. It is my blessing to everyone living in this world that they should pursue their dreams and wishes, and that if they do they can surely reach the day when their dreams come true. So, in each of the series, my designs carry positive energy and joyful messages to all.

Another project I am working on is called Miniantiques, a series of collectable Chinese furniture miniatures. I believe that the techniques of building traditional Chinese furniture are amazing.

However, the related skills are fading out. At the same time, I see that the number of trees in this world is also declining.

So I have decided to choose to use an eco-friendly resin and precision moulds for the production of the Miniantiques and have them all hand-painted. The series includes "Chair, Cabinet" and the upcoming new range "Wardrobe." I want to keep these traditional Chinese designs going for generations to come.

Where are you most creative?

Traveling! Wherever I go, it's a must that I visit local museums or palaces. The old decorations and history always inspire me.

Are you currently involved with any project?

The most exciting project that I am now involved with must be the special Pink Crystal DaDa which is 160 centimeters high. With full support from Crystallised-Swarovski Elements, I had a launch party of my crystal panda at their flagship store in Shanghai. After long treks back and forth across the Shanghai countryside, the big, pink panda, Panpan, finally arrived at the site and it took me two days to paste on the crystal dress.

At the VIP night, Panpan was the spotlight and every guest asked to take pictures with her!

Crystal elements are creatively used to highlight six outfits in the theme of "Wedding," "Peace" and "Love and Romance." For me, crystal elements is the ultimate symbol of clean-line and minimalism. The PanPanDaDa with Crystal series can be purchased at 100percent on Wuyuan Road.

Describe your design style.

I love all antique Chinese stuff so you can always find a touch of this style in my designs. But you may find me trying to make the traditional Chinese styles more trendy and funny.

Just like the Chinese Zodiac (paper-cut) collection, the animal prints on the panda's tummy are based on traditional Chinese craft paper-cutting to highlight their body colors.

What does your home mean to you?

The place where I needn't talk. Usually after a long trip home, I lock myself in for a few days without doing anything.

What do you collect?

Little Prince story books in different languages. And any stuff related to Little Prince.

What will be the next big design trend?

I do believe that thinking freely is always the most important element to be creative. Every creator or designer should have his/her own favorite element and style. Most of the time, we tend to fix our minds on the trend. But I think, as creative workers, we should fashion a trend but not follow it.


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