A Peek into Chinese Minimalism

February 26, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

Parkchoonmoo in Shanghai

Parkchoonmoo in Shanghai

I had just spent another day searching for the perfect antique desk for my studio, my second attempt ever since I've fallen in love with Ming style furniture. Before coming here I've always had the impression that Chinese furniture design is lavishly over the top, far beyond the realm of gaudy. A quick trip to the Shanghai museum and several furniture viewings later, I've been proven very wrong. It turns out that the shiny, overly-polished ones tend to be the cheaper, modern preferences of the nouveau riche. China too had its own Minimalist movement, notably during the Ming dynasty. It was the golden age for scholars and merchants who preferred the pursuit of intellect and the arts, including the nature of matter they surround themselves with. Ming furniture possesses restraint, balance, and elegant curvature in its lines (more here and here). There is an emphasis on revealing the natural texture of the materials, much like Margiela himself. And like Balenciaga's famous three-panelled wedding dress, master craftsmen of the Ming dynasty took pride in hiding all hints of construction, as if the furniture was carved out of a single slab of wood.

Ming Furniture

Having almost given up on this fruitless pursuit for an affordable antique desk, I was told that I should move my search to Taobao - one of the largest online market place in existence. In case you're not too familiar with it, imagine if eBay and Amazon were to combine, that would be the size of Taobao, providing everything you need from Korean makeup to cheap as shit clothing to boyfriend for hire. So off I plunged into the world of Taobao. Good news, antique furniture and its replicas are some of the easiest items to find. Bad news, most of them were as gaudy and shiny as the modern consumer want them to be. Thousands of identical listings and various random mix of keywords later, I managed to find the perfect desk that would hopefully look as great and sturdy as it does in the photographs.

Parkchoonmoo in ShanghaiParkchoonmoo in Shanghai

Parkchoonmoo in Shanghai

Parkchoonmoo in Shanghai
Wearing: Parkchoonmoo coat; Yohji Yamamoto Y's dress; Yohji Yamamoto skirt

(one comment)

One thought on “A Peek into Chinese Minimalism

  • Chen

    by Chen on May 16, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Ming style furnitures, built in the traditional way using the same limited range of fine woods that also attain a high aesthetic standard are hard to come by and expensive (could be very) to buy nowadays.
    There are plenty of new furniture brands that mimics the style of traditional Chinese furnitures available on the market which may satisfy your search for items in your studio.
    The desk, chair and tea equipment set-up you posted lacks refinement in my opinion. There are ways to achieve the elegance and harmonising atomsphere of traditional study or tea-house set up which is definitely worth digging into if that happen to also be your field of interest.


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