For this week’s article Nicely Made in China (NMiC) stays in Shanghai to introduce a Franco-Chinese couple: Virginie Moriette, a French architect who graduated from l’Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Paris la Villette and her husband Xu Ming, a designer/interior architect who graduated from E.S.A.G Penninghen in Paris. They run their own company Design MVW based in Shanghai. NMiC interviewed Virginie who talks about what defines life in Shanghai in 2010: high energy, harmony, nature and the Shanghai urban environment.
Virginie, how did you start Design MVW?
We arrived in China from France in 2005 to work for international architecture companies. I was working on the Pudong airport project and Ming was working on the Chongqing Science & Techonology museum project. When we saw the high energy level around us it made us want to stay here to realize our own projects. We both wanted to express our ideas and work on human-scale projects rather than the big 1000sq m plus jobs we were working on at the time. Also, when we began to look for furniture for ourselves we did not find anything to our liking. Early in 2005 we began to design furniture and wanted to exhibit it, just to find out if people liked it. While looking for a suitable place, we found a 500 square meters space, which we fell in love with. As a result, we began to design and sell furniture, while also working on architectural projects, the idea being to make design more accessible for people who cannot afford designer furniture. A year later we received the ELLE DECO best furniture design award.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
First and foremost, inspiration comes from our daily life. We both come from small villages so nature is a big source of inspiration for us. In Shanghai we live in the French concession where there’s a lot of nature. But we also need the urban feel of Shanghai. In Shanghai we can get both sides.
Is there something you particularly like to design?
Not really. Upon reflection we’ve designed a lot of bookshelves, not that we wanted to, but it just happened like that. I find chairs the most difficult objects to design.
What type of material do you like to use?
Maybe because we work as a team we often use two elements: wood and metal. We like stainless steel, very polished, shiny, that we use with rugged and dark wood. We like that contrast a lot. The wood we like is oak, which we use with a dark-chocolate- varnish and wenge. Another element we like to use is lacquer again for its shiny look that we can use with more rugged elements.
What can you tell us about the Chinese market in 2010?
One thing struck me recently: last April, Hosane -a Shanghai auction house- auctioned contemporary furniture designed by 10 famous designers. Some of our furniture was included, and we were surprised to see that everything was sold. Today people buy what they really like. In the past they might have bought pieces they thought would show their status. In a way it is now more sincere than it used to be.
Who do you work with?
We work with craftsmen and small factories just outside Shanghai. We need to be able to control quality very quickly. Local craftsmen help us a lot by working very fast, which allows us to control and change whatever needs to be changed.
Where can interested NMiC readers buy your work?
In our showroom. (see address below)
明合文吉 Design MVW
兴国路322 上海200052 I 322 XingGuo Road Shanghai 200052
电话 I Phone : +86 21 62815594 www.design-mvw.com