When one thinks of Chinese-inspired interiors, austere rosewood and cold jade often come to mind. But this isn’t always the case. Put a new spin on an Eastern style living room by minimising clutter and selecting pieces that have distinct Chinese touches, yet are thoroughly modern.
Made from fibreglass soaked in epoxy resin, Moooi’s black Non Random lights by Dutch designer Bertjan Pot look like many things—coils, yarn, soap bubbles, a pomelo hanging from a tree, mesh domes or lanterns. No matter what they look like to you, there’s something undeniably Eastern and mysterious about these lamps.
Influenced by Art Deco chinoiserie and with a splash of retro sleekness, Baxter’s Mio sofa fires up the imagination, bringing to mind scenes from the iconic Wong Kar Wai film In the Mood for Love. Constructed with a pine and poplar frame sitting on turned and satin-finished brass feet, and upholstered in soft leather, Mio’s slim, slender silhouette is as graceful and alluring as actress Maggie Cheung in her tailor-made cheongsams.
You don’t need to fill your living room with antique pieces, but a few well-selected items with an antiquated look can add intrigue to the scheme. Scene Shang’s hexagonal wooden Liu mirrors (right) and Antique Gate Bench are two examples of such designs. The latter can be used as a console for displaying potted plants, or as a seat for guests when they remove their shoes. “focus on classic designs with the right amount of intricacy—in particular, Ming Dynasty styles, which have clean lines and are not overly ornate.”
Offering a contemporary take on the traditional Chinese marriage cabinet, Scottish designer Gavin Robertson uses fine white ripple sycamore and Macassar ebony to create a cabinet with distilled Asian aesthetics. Constructed with hand-cut dovetail joints and custom-made drop-down handles, this satin-sheened cabinet is ideal as a stylish and discreet media storage system.
For an unconventional set-up with an Eastern twist, combine two models of sleek tables from Hangzhou-based Mario Tsai: the Valley coffee table (above), and two or three lightweight portable Basket side tables, which can be moved around and rearranged to suit the occasion. Explaining the rationale behind the Basket table, Tsai says, “People tend to use both hands to move a coffee table, which is inconvenient when they’re holding a coffee cup or book, so this table addresses that problem.”
Ode To Bamboo
With its regal form and bold green-and-white design, the Labyrinth Chair, designed by Studio Job for Moooi, beckons modern-day emperors and empresses looking for an eye-catching, avant-garde armchair. A hint of ancient China comes through in the pattern on the fabric, which mimics fretwork often found in traditional Chinese bamboo furniture.
Inspired by the patterns of tiles on the streets of Shanghai, Neri&Hu’s Jie collection is the brand’s debut project with well-known Spanish carpet brand Nanimarquina. The character of the 100 per cent hand tufted new wool rugs in blue or celadon green bears the essence of the Chinese ideogram “jie”, which means street or intersection. The designers profess that it is the dynamism of lively streets that they hope to convey in their design.
Comprising four black walnut framed folding panels with bamboo latticework, the Twilight Bamboo Marquetry Folding Screen by Shanghai-headquartered Shang Xia evokes the mysteries of dynastic China. Bamboo strips of varying densities are used for the lattices, diffusing light in different ways, and producing shifting shades and shadows as the sun charts its course through the day.
(Related: How To Decorate Like The French)