Previously only available in a handful of stores such as Zen Lifestore
and Simply Life
, gorgeous homeware brand Piling Palang now has a space of its own in Tianzifang, and it’s every bit as charming as the goods it houses. Lacquer lanterns dangle at the entrance to an adorable little cubby-hole displaying ceramic, lacquer and cloisonné objets d’art, while traditional Chinese stools painted Pepto-Bismol pink and a sturdy wooden workbench lend a workshop feel.
Founded in Paris in 2010 by Judy Kim and Tianjin-born Bingbing Deng, the brand’s rise has been meteoric, garnering both commercial and critical success (their sunbird lantern won the Elle Décor
award for contemporary Chinese design in 2011).
Inspired by traditional Oriental objects – Chinese drums, lanterns and tiffin boxes – and symbolic motifs such as turtle shells, gingko leaves, phoenixes and peonies, Deng’s designs neatly avoid cliché by opting for fresh, bright hues in place of the typical red-and-gold colour combination, or playing with proportion – enlarging a traditional Chinese snuff bottle to vase-like dimensions, for example. This might leave some customers confused as to its function but it also ‘inspires creative use,’ claims Deng.
The range of designs (new collections are released every three months or so) in-store range from a minimalist white tea-set printed with a tiny pair of scarlet lips, to decorative side-plates painted with Chinese acrobats (90RMB) and lacquer trays covered in an eye-popping jumble of 1930s signage (168-198RMB, pictured above).
The standout collection, though, is Deng’s eponymous line (snuff bottles 720RMB): a series of plain ceramic pieces featuring candid sketches by the then-eight-year-old designer of his family members and neighbours dozing, lounging or picking their noses.