When East meets West in the home

Updated: 2011-05-30 11:05

By Gan Tian (China Daily)

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When East meets West in the home

Bamboo and stones give a traditional Chinese feel to the living space, while the warm and cozy lighting system is more suitable for modern people's lifestyle. Photos Provided to China Daily

When East meets West in the home

In Wang Xiaogen's designs, small Buddha statues showcase a Chinese style, but the whole furnishing does not adopt a too complicated style, which catches the spirit of simplicity in European designs.

When East meets West in the home

A bamboo screen in the bedroom replicates the simple, straight lines of the contemporary sofas and the bed.

When East meets West in the home

To create a spacious feeling, Xu does not use too much large furniture, leaving the homeowners free to move about.

When East meets West in the home

Bamboo plants, pools and stones - all Chinese elements -are featured in this modern two-story townhouse.

East is East and West is West, but the two cultures can find middle ground. Gan Tian talks to homeowners and designers who fused the styles successfully.

When 40-year-old businessman Wang Zhifeng bought his second apartment in downtown Beijing's Central Park two years ago, he contemplated two styles of decor. His first choice was to go along the traditional Chinese route since he was a fan of classic Chinese culture. Wang considered mahogany furniture, though it was comparatively expensive and an elegant Chinese pingfeng, a folding screen. His 34-year-old wife, who works in a foreign advertising company, wanted a more European look.

"A European style is much more comfortable and economical. We can go to Ikea to buy a whole set, and save the money for the kid's education," she suggested.

The couple could not agree, and there were cross words exchanged. The problem was finally solved when they found an interior designer who suggested they adopt a fusion of both European and Chinese elements.

Decor designs combining Chinese and Western styles are in vogue, especially in top-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

According to Wang Xiaogen, designer and founder at Beijing Genssun International Space Design Company, this trend started in early 2009.

For many Chinese people, pure American, French or English furnishings are just too removed from their daily routines. For example, a fireplace is often the central feature in an American home, where it serves both heating and decorative purposes and is the centerpiece in the living room.

But the Chinese do not have a tradition of using a fireplace, and for most, the focus of the apartment is more likely the television set.

Since 2009, Wang has more customers asking for advice in creating a fusion style for many reasons, he says.

There is a revived interest in Chinese culture because of a corresponding resurrection of interest in guoxue, the study of Chinese culture with Confucianism at its core, Wang says.

This interest was reflected in furnishing choices several years later, as more people looked to traditional scholar styles' ambience for retrospection as a refuge from a fast-paced society. But consumers also wanted the comfort that European-style furniture provides.

Taiwan interior designer Xu Xingnan graduated with an architecture degree from Feng Chia University. His creations include wood and bamboo inspired by Chinese designs - but he also uses a lot of straight lines, which suggest a European simplicity.

Genssun's Wang says consumers who prefer the fusion styles are generally in their forties, with more established financial backgrounds. They are general open to outside influences while staying confident in their own heritage.

Xu agrees. He has a client who is a dentist, with a 460-square-meter house to furnish. Xu used warm lights to create a cozy ambience, in a very Western style. But the indoor swimming poor is fringed with bamboo and surrounded by many wooden chairs and benches, in an unmistakable Eastern touch.


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