Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dragon Diaries: Reflections on China, Hong Kong Part 3

Hong Kong from The Peak

The final city of our adventure in China, by far my favorite, was Hong Kong. A few notes on HK before I share pictures, because if you haven't visited this true jewel of the Orient, there are some basics to know. The island, located off the coast of south eastern China is only 426 square miles and is home to over 7 million people. Take into consideration the mountainous landscape, the harbour and beaches and you will quickly surmise that isn't a lot of living space (it is the 4th most populated country or sovereign state in the world). It is best described as a vertical city. Everything goes up, because that is really the only place to go (out and down just aren't possible because it's an island).

Vertical City

Great Britain returned HK to the Chinese in 1997, but some of the Western influence remains today especially in regard to their infrastructure and how many Brits bustle around the island. The territory follows the principle: "one country, two systems" which is a different governing system than mainland China. While it is part of the People's Republic of China, it has been able to maintain its own capitalist economy and political system (as is also the case with Macau and Taiwan). And what a capitalist economy it is! After nearly two weeks on the mainland of socialism and repressions (that's as far as I will go there, this is a blog intended for design not political views after all), it was so refreshing to step onto Hong Kong and savour the vibrant individuality and uninhibited expression of self. The best I can compare it (from what I've experienced) is posh London meets ambitious Manhattan meets cultured San Francisco with a layer of the exotic Orient and there you have Hong Kong. A true international melting pot of ex pats where The East mixes with The West and the combination is electric.

Market in Central

One of my favorite design inspirations in HK was finding the original Shanghai Tang boutique located at 12 Pedder Street in Central. While I knew the Chinese brand best for its luxurious women's apparel, the first floor is primarily home accessories and a few beautiful repro pieces that draw from the days of British imperialism.  While I would have loved to ship back half of the first floor collection, we settled on a silver and blue woven picture frame with the Shanghai Tang logo. Easy to pack and a chic way to display a picture from our trip. Here are some images of the boutique.

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