Spring Awakened by Great Design

Spring was here for just a moment at last Saturday’s warm Nuandao event in Beijing. Hundreds of people visited throughout the one-day affair, stopping by to hang out with designers and meet their products. Cupcakes and coffee provided by Fisheye Coffee were an agreeable treat. When the event came to its end, the sky sealed up and straaaaange March snowfall was in fact impending.

Nuandao is my first baby, born last year – it is a platform for designers and a destination for shoppers to bring happiness into daily lives. The “Spring Awakening Design Market” was one of our largest offline endeavors yet. 25+ designers, artists, brands and businesses spent weeks if not months preparing a special exhibition in the name of spring. Local Beijing-based designers such as D-SATA, Triple-Major, NLGX, and Natooke are among those that participated; Library Brass flew in from Taiwan just for the occasion to showcase their edgy pieces.

Some of my favorite picks from the day (How can I resist? Well most of the time I cannot!):

Xiao Tian Yu is a young ceramic artist. He uses fish motifs in contemporary renditions of the traditional art form. Besides the aquamarine celadon I am familiar with, Xiao Tian Yu displayed new pieces in black and red. This time at the event, he displayed alongside knives and tea utensils by Yang Si Nan on a Chinese tea bench. The pick here is made for Pu’er tea, to ensure that when poked, the flat rounds break down into leaves.

Lost & Found is a local brand that specializes in minimal furniture and home decor now with two stores across from each other at Andingmen’s Guozijian Street. Lost & Found I is better for furniture inspired by vintage mid-century China, accessories (bags, rings, necklaces) and stuff for the home (clocks, cups, mugs) while Lost & Found II offers a heartier selection of minimal apparel and Chinese ceramics by famous potters.

Mr. Xi is a tall, stocky man with a soft demeanor. At the start of the event, Xi’s handblown glass wares (by him) and the tiny succulents and plants they held, were perched on a beautiful wooden stand or hung from an antique-looking coat rack. By the afternoon, we noticed that most of his pieces were sold out! Wudaoying Hutong (walking distance from Lost & Found)

Hannah Ren, Australian-Chinese jewelry designer unveiled for the first time in Beijing and retailed first through Nuandao. The collection’s name “Closer to my heart” was a clever title to the gem-less rings. Available as earrings, necklaces and actual rings, and displayed on wooden rounds in a merry spring-time formation.

Tang’ Roulou is my favorite children’s apparel brand by two French friends, Amelie and Pierre, in Beijing. Their vibrant fabrics with blues, reds, and polka dots make fantastic dresses, blankets, and bags. One day, I will buy out the store! They have a small store in Sanlitun, but often you’ll see them riding on their Beijing bicycles in Gulou. 30 Sanlitun Lu, (inside Phoenix Design), Chaoyang district

China might not be the first country that comes to mind when you say “design.” Most people will probably think of Japan,  Europe or the US. When people think of China, what probably will come to mind is manufacturing, production, and factories. Rather than just than these associations, I believe that in the near future, as individuals and brands alike are joining on the dialectic of art and design, China will become a country known for its creativity.

Photography taken by Crystal Jean at Nuandao’s Spring Awakening Design Market

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