The Nicely Made in China product of the week is as old as China itself. Chinese ceramics, since it is ceramics and porcelain we’ll be talking about, are back in fashion again. Hai Chen, Blue Shanghai White owner and main designer grants NMiC an interview.
Hai Chen, how did you become a ceramist and when did you start Blue Shanghai White?
I studied fine arts and ceramics from 1987 to 1991 at the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts and at Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts & Design from 1992 until 1996. I created my company in 2003.
Blue Shanghai White is based on a concept. Can you please clarify what this concept is for NMiC readers?
Our concept is to use ancestral methods to create timeless pieces with a twist of modernity. We make table ware as well as furniture. For our furniture I keep the wooden structure of classic furniture and incorporate porcelain to create chairs and tables.
Can you describe the process of creating a porcelain piece for NMiC readers?
First I would like to stress that at Blue Shanghai White everything is made by hand. To create a piece we begin by making a shape with clay. At BSW the clay we use is kaolin exclusively. There is a lot of silicone in it and it is structurally close to glass. It is considered « hard porcelain » as opposed to Bone China which is »soft porcelain ». The shape is then dried for a month or more, painted by hand and then cooked in a gas oven at 1320º centigrade for 10 to 12 hours and cooled for about the same length of time inside the kiln. The blue paint we use is cobalt-based, for red it is bronze-based and iron-based for brown hues.
Who are your clients? Have you seen an evolution since you opened the shop?
When I first opened the shop the big majority of clients were foreigners either living in Shanghai or tourists. Chinese clientele was only buying to make gifts at the time. Now BSW clients are 70% Chinese and they are buying for themselves. They are young urban middle-class and are rediscovering Chinese porcelain. Contemporary ceramics is becoming fashionable again.
To give NMiC readers an idea: how much cost a teapot?
Depending on the size and the complexity of the design a teapot costs between 1000 and 2000 rmb (US$ 146/292 – € 110/220 – £ 96/192 – exchange rate on June 10th 2010)
What is Blue Shanghai White preparing for this summer?
Our new range Cooling Summer, tables and chairs made of bamboo and porcelain is coming out at the end of this month.
Where can NMiC readers buy your products?
At our shop on the Bund: Blue Shanghai White 17-103 Fuzhou road, Shanghai 200002. Tel: +86 21 63 23 08 56
Amanresorts in Hangzhou also sell our products as well as The Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hainan island. Abroad you can buy our porcelain every Chinese new year in Stockholm at NK the biggest Swedish department store at Regeringsgatan 38, Stockholm, Sweden.
Hai Chen has been an artist in residence at the European Ceramic Work Centre in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands and her work was exhibited in Geneva at the Ariana museum.
Addresses in Shanghai:
People’s Square Showroom (near Shanghai Museum)
No.1060-23 Yanan East Road,
Tel:86-21-63596897 (For Appointment)
Fuzhou Road Shop (near the Bund)