As the global economy brings attention to lifestyles in the East, China’s emerging furniture designers are making waves within the global design industry. A new wave of quality Chinese craftsmanship is undergoing a surge in popularity. Here’s our pick of five Chinese furniture designers to keep your eye out for, as the rapid development of China’s creative design scene continues apace.
Internationally acclaimed Chinese designer Jiang Qiong’er is best known for founding Shang Xia, a Chinese luxury lifestyle brand launched in 2008 with the backing of global luxury giant Hermès. The brand’s name literally translates as “above-below” or “up-down”, and Shang Xia dedicates itself to reviving time-honored Chinese craftsmanship through contemporary standards by blending traditional know-how with modern design, and taking the Hermès vision of “quality, craftsmanship and innovation” to China.
Jiang’s connection with France is a well-forged one, as she was the first Chinese designer to produce window installations for Hermès. It was an invitation to meet the luxury brand’s CEO Patrick Thomas and artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas that led to the joint establishment of Shang Xia, celebrating a contemporary art of living.
“My design concept is summarized as ‘put beauty and love in design’. Putting the emotion into your work gets people closer to understanding and feeling it.” — Jiang Qiong’er
Da Tian Di Series
The Da Tian Di (Big Sky and Earth) collection of lacquered furniture is one striking example of design by Jiang, the form of which inspired by traditional Ming construction concept of “straight-edged on the outside, and round on the inside.”
Reinterpreted in rigid carbon fiber, the red lacquer chair infused traditional and modern craftsmanship. With “simple, light, and useful” as its design philosophy, the elegant lines create a floating impression take on a new aspect of form and functionality.
Graphic designer and then coffee shop owner turned furniture designer Gao Guqi has gained in popularity over the recent years, whose design seeks to reinterpret the idea of simplicity, authenticity, and fusion with nature.
The Beijing-based furniture brand FNJI Furniture founded in 2010 is Gao’s progeny. The company’s furniture pieces, all handmade, are designed to continue the tradition of Chinese furniture making using natural materials such as solid wood, cotton and linen with modern design language to fit well into contemporary living spaces.
Concealed in a restored traditional Beijing courtyard house, the flagship store of FNJI Furniture offers accessories, tableware, and a comprehensive selection of furniture including minimalist tables, functional cabinets and seating, creating an innately Asian aesthetic.
Derek Chen is a well-known Chinese furniture designer, building a reputation for himself since graduating from Beijing’s Central Academy of Art and Design. The aesthetic of his oeuvre is based on following the law of the world to create pieces that resonate beyond time and space. He continues to build up recognition in design circles since winning EDIDA (ELLE Deco International Design Award), gold medals at the Shanghai International Furniture Fair, and many others at home and abroad.
In 2009 Chen established his own brand Maxmarko, serving as the chief designer. It has become a leading brand for contemporary Chinese furniture design in China.
His iconic work is the Listen to Zen tea table, which uses Swedish pine to make a traditional Chinese table, encapsulating a refreshing living style with a modern aesthetic.
Young furniture designer Frank Chou is undoubtedly a rising star in China’s design scene. Chou set up the Beijing-based Frank Chou Design Studio in 2012.
An award-winning furniture designer, he was the recipient of the 2016 EDIDA Award for Young Design Talent of the Year, and the Gold Idea Award at the China International Furniture Expo twice. He also became the first Chinese designer to win the SaloneSatellite Special Mention Design Award during the 2016 Milan Design Week.
“The most difficult task we face is how to keep the independent design identity that we have created. We must try to absorb and utilize all aspects of the industry between the west and east, then make one combination of them together to create a new, and contemporary fusion market.” — Frank Chou
Chou’s designs seek to incorporate the eastern and western worlds, and blend Asian influences with modern sensibilities. His recent Kong Chair demonstrates a masculine feel with curvy cutouts and contrasting colors.
Lv Yongzhong is an academic, furniture designer and commissioner of the China International Interior Design Association (CIID). After teaching interior and industrial design in Tongji University for over two decades, he quit his job and founded the contemporary Chinese furniture and lifestyle brand, Banmoo.
“Good design precisely establishes a certain relation, so as to support the constant resonation between man and the environment.” — Lv Yongzhong
The brand name itself — comprising ban which is half, and mu meaning wood — embodies the idea of a connection with nature, which is the unique discourse of Lv’s works. He chooses to work a great deal with various types of Chinese local timber, using furniture materials widely used in Chinese tradition instead of the more mass-produced materials nowadays.
Of his iconic works, the upscale vegetarian restaurant “Fu He Hui” is a case in point. According to Lv, walnut was chosen as the main color, combined with different shades of black, white and gray that evoke a low-profile style similar to the personality of Chinese.