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December 27, 2009

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East and West mix in a relaxing home

FOR Alison Mary Ching Yeung, finding a perfect place to live in downtown Shanghai was not easy.

But the one thing that encouraged her to rent her 1930s loft house was that it offered plenty of light with generous windows in a quiet and elegant neighborhood in the center of the city.

So after spending three "crazy" days looking at about 50 places, she moved into a 140-square-meter loft house on Huaihai Road M., close to Xingguo Road.

"It's a funny story. I had one week to move my studio, my office and my house," says Yeung, the creator of the Mary Ching label of shoes. "I found my office and studio quickly, but I was going crazy looking for a suitable home."

She says her shoes draw inspiration from Asian esthetics and European style and this combination of East and West can be seen combining naturally in her home.

Yeung took one day to decorate the house with some helpers. When she first moved in, she simply imagined where things should be if she had a dinner party, where to put her bags and keys when she returned from work, and where her friends would want to sit down for tea and wine. After imagining all this and other things, she started decorating.

She says the greatest challenge was how to decorate appropriately due to the high ceiling, making it both bright and fashionable, yet functional at the same time.

She kept the original hardwood flooring in the living room and used a long dinner table that juts out of the open kitchen and into the living room.

Yeung says she likes to be different and thus wants her home to reflect her own personality and tastes.

"I don't like living in Xintiandi because you can find the same feeling in other fashionable cities," she says. "I wanted to feel like I am really in China, in Shanghai, which can inspire me to be more original."

Educated in England, France, Italy and China, Yeung has followed her entrepreneurial dreams to Shanghai to pursue her passion for shoe design.

"I prefer a home to be neutral, because it is a place to relax," Yeung says. "To me, relaxing means sleep, But sleep is a luxury because I work too hard. So I purchased different types of sofas and I like to change everything according to my mood."

The bedroom window shows off typical Chinese style latticework, and simple decoration in the bedroom shows a cozy and comfortable attitude toward life.

Her home is dominated with the colors of white, beige and black.

Sofas, lounge chairs and stools are displayed separately in the living area. Yeung likes and collects chairs. She purchased 15 chairs, which she says give her inspiration for shoe designs, after moving into this loft.

A couple of interesting items stand out. Two bird cages are used as decorative pieces as is a table made of used chopsticks. Wok Media designed the table and she says it responds to the horrible waste of cheap wooden chopsticks in China, where it is estimated that some 45 billion pairs are used and discarded annually, requiring the wood of 25 million fully grown trees.

Opposite the charming chopstick table is the open kitchen.

Many consider the kitchen to be the soul of any home and it's no different with Yeung.

"I enjoy cooking, especially desserts, and I like to share my dishes with friends." Yeung says.

Yeung considers herself an environmentalist and she likes to purchase crafts made of abandoned materials.

"It doesn't matter if the furniture you buy is made by a famous artist or not," she says. "I like to have a wide variety of styles in my house."

The shoe designer says she bought all her furniture from Beijing's Panjiayuan market and Shanghai.

Yeung thinks the only thing in the house that links her to her colorful shoe designs is the loft. She describes the room as a turtle. In here, she uses pictures, photos and colorful jewelry as decorations.

"If you give me a room I will fill it," she says.

Yeung defines herself as a pack rat, who likes to keep everything from years gone by and mix them up in different ways. This includes souvenirs from her trips abroad. One example is British Bulldog candle holders from the United Kingdom.

Like Yeung, her home is a seamless blend of East and West, sophistication and luxury mixed with restrained lines amongst flamboyant feathers.

She offers a few tips for those about to decorate a home.

First, homes are a reflection of you, an extension of your personality and experiences. Make your home unique and up to date with your tastes. Second, a home should be where you can totally relax. Her final tip is to be brave. Don't be afraid to try new things, which can add inspiration to your life.

Who is she?

Belonging to a great family of artists, Delphine de Lorme has always been surrounded with art.

She grew up with furniture created by her great-uncle Andre Groult, an interior designer in the Art Deco period.

As she visited museums and art galleries with her father, a painter and her art teacher, de Lorme developed a taste for painting and color and soon started as a painter in Montmartre.

She used to poke around flea markets and auctions to buy and restore antiques.

It was at this time that she combined her two passions - painting and Art Deco design.

In order to create her own pieces of furniture, de Lorme has been trained by the best craftsmen and antiquaries in Paris.

In 2006, she moved with her family to the Philippines and started to design her own collection.

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

Inspired by popular art and culture my paintings are a blend of old posters from the 1950s commercials that I usually find in the flea markets in Paris.

I tear them and paste them on my canvas or art pieces then paint over it.

My favorite subjects are always glamorous girls and the power of seduction, but I especially like my pin-up commode with real legs on shoes!

My large size pop-art works - brightly colored with audacious and provocative subjects - attract the Parisian Galleries of Place des Vosges and I was selected to represent France at the World Expo Aichi in Japan.

And I'm proud to have my paintings right next to Picasso, Renoir or Van Dongen at Opera Gallery in Singapore.

Are you currently involved in any projects?

I just finished decorating a boutique for a palace hotel in Cebu, Philippines.

I have a project as a designer to create a shop for a casino in Macau.

My furniture and paintings will be distributed in Seoul and Miami and I would really love to be featured or represented in Shanghai.

Describe your design style.

My collection "haute couture" is a mix of the elegant and refined lines of Louis XV, which abhors ultra feminine curves, associated with high brass ornamentation and was designed for the comfort and glorification of women.

I have taken the palette a step further and daringly enhance with bright colors from my pop-art paintings.

I created little compartments inside the drawers and each is labeled in French for every accessory a girl could dream of. I love art on furniture.

Where are you most creative?

I get my inspirations from trips. The first thing I look for, while traveling, are the exhibitions and art galleries.

I keep flyers from bars. I follow fashion trends. I love graffiti jewelry for my handles.

I sketch or take notes and when I come back in my quiet atelier-factory in Cebu I try to do something with all the ideas I picked up.

My car is also a space where I concentrate on future projects.

What does your home mean to you?

I like my house with music, friends, children and joy. We always have guests, friends, musicians, artists, painters who pass by ? it's always full and we love when people feel immediately at home.

We have recreated the French style of life in Cebu.

What do you collect?

Paint brushes. I buy them everywhere and keep them even if they have lost their hair. I also collect sentences from magazines and headlines from newspapers.

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

The World Expo site, happy hour at Glamour Bar, or M on the Bund. My 18-year-old daughter, who studies at Fudan University, brought me to Moganshan Road.

What will be the next big design trend?

Bright colors! That's what we need during a crisis.

Wool, cashmere, and even yak fiber blankets and cushions are always a classic choice in bedding and winter home decoration because of the softness, durability and aesthetics. Good-quality materials are capable of keeping you toasty warm while still remaining breathable and light. You can find a selection of good-quality and unique blankets, shawls and cushions in many colors and sizes to suit and enrich your home and bedroom from boutique stores to big-name outlets in the city.

1: Shangri-la pillow, 1,105 yuan, from Shokay

Address: No. 9, Lane 274, Taikang Rd

Tel: 5466-0907

2: Feather sofa throw, 1,200 yuan, from Oshadai

Address: Unit 7, No. 1, 181 Taicang Rd

Tel: 5306-3798

3: Yak Blanket, 8,010 yuan, from Shanghai Trio

Address: House 6, Lane 37, Fuxing Rd W.

Tel: 6433-8901

4: Infinity throw, 6,015 yuan, from Shokay

Address: No. 9, Lane 274 Taikang Rd

Tel: 5466-0907

5: Snoa Band blanket, 249 yuan, from Ikea

Address: 126 Caoxi Rd

Tel: 40-0800-2345


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